CLASSIC DESIGNS:

5 Iconic Watches from the Mind of Gérald Genta


Throughout his career, legendary watch designer Gérald Genta (1931-2011) created some of the most iconic models in the watch world, working with brands from Omega to Audemars Piguet and IWC and eventually establishing an independent brand (now absorbed into Bulgari, one of his other clients) making watches under his own name. It is a testament to the influence of his designs that his watches became hallmarks of their respective brands and remain popular watch styles. Below, we take a look at some of his most notable creations.

1. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak

Audemars-Piguet-Royal-Oak-Extra-thin-40-Jahre
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Extra Thin

Genta presented his design for the Royal Oak to Audemars Piguet in 1970. As the story goes, Genta drew his design for the watch in one night, after being inspired by a diver wearing an old fashioned helmet attached to his suit by eight screws. This translated into the design of the watch, which features an octagonal shape with eight screws on the bezel. The octagonal design has remained even in the most recent incarnations of the watch, including the Royal Oak Offshore, introduced in 1993, and Royal Oak Offshore Diver, introduced in 2013.

2. Bulgari Bulgari

Bulgari Bulgari Chronograph
Bulgari Bulgari Chronograph

The inspiration for the first Bulgari Bulgari was an ancient Roman coin on which the effigy of the emperor was encircled by engraved inscriptions. Genta applied this design element to the watch’s bezel, which bears the two “Bulgari” engravings from which the model derives its repetitive name. The cylindrical shape of the case is also influenced by ancient Rome, specifically by the columns of Roman temples. Over its 36 years of existence, the Bulgari Bulgari has only undergone slight changes, including the transition from quartz to mechanical movements, and variations in size to suit modern tastes.

3. IWC Ingenieur

IWC Ingenieur Double Chronograph Titanium
IWC Ingenieur Double Chronograph Titanium

Genta is also responsible for reinventing IWC’s Ingenieur. Launched in 1976, Genta’s Ingenieur SL featured the addition of five visible screws on the watch’s bezel (similar to the Royal Oak’s bezel screws). This element remained a part of the Ingenieur’s design, as seen on the IWC Ingenieur Double Chronograph Titanium, introduced several years back when IWC revamped the collection. IWC unveiled an even more retro-looking redesign of the Ingenieur in 2017.

4. Omega Constellation

Omega Constellation Sedna Gold
Omega Constellation Sedna Gold

Genta is also known to have designed several models in the Omega Constellation line. The Omega Constellation series still continues today, including this recently released version, with a case in the brand’s proprietary Sedna Gold.

5. Patek Philippe Nautilus

Patek Philippe Ref. 5726 Nautilus Annual Calendar
Patek Philippe Ref. 5726 Nautilus Annual Calendar

The Patek Philippe Nautilus was another one of Genta’s original designs. Knowing the Stern family were enthusiastic yachtsmen, Genta designed the Nautilus in 1974 as a sports watch with a bezel resembling a porthole. Genta also designed the Golden Ellipse for Patek Philippe in 1968. The Patek Philippe Nautilus remains one of the most popular and iconic luxury sports watches.

This article was originally published in 2014 and has been updated.

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21 Responses to “5 Iconic Watches from the Mind of Gérald Genta”

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  1. A r i d

    Hi .. Do Gerarld Genta Design For The GP Laureato as Well ?

    Reply
  2. Tom Warburton

    My personal favorite is the White Gold Patek 5712 – killer looks and understated – a tough combination to pull off

    Reply
  3. Dominic Cummings

    Genta designed the Royal Oak, however the ‘Offshore’ models like the one pictured came in 1993 and was designed by Emmanuel Gueit.

    Reply
  4. Gerald Genta also designed the rolling hours Gerald Charles A-Evolution, based on ETA 2892-A2. I rather wish he hadn’t as it most certainly won’t go down in history as a great piece.

    Reply
  5. Debashish

    Gerald Genta designed some truly outstanding watches, in fact, out of these five watches, I own IWC and Omega.

    Reply
  6. MrTissot

    The AP and the Omega are my favorites here. I guess its just personal taste, but I don’t like the deign of the Patek Philippe Nautilus.

    Reply
  7. Randy Rogers

    Great examples all, and though the first generation of Bulgari Bulgari may have been closer to its design influence, I might suggest that his own 1980 ‘Mickey Mouse’ was the influence for the Brands Hallmark Octo Collection and today’s Worlds ‘thinnest’ Tourbillion.

    Reply
  8. Robinoz

    All watches in this display are elegant, but I think I like the Audemars Piguet the best as it has that different look from the run of the mill watches. Very attractive. Bvlgari’s watch is lovely too, but who needs elapsed time recording capability these days?

    If I had the case, the AP watch would by my first choice.

    Reply
  9. Guys, you have forgot about VC Overseas.
    Now, could someone please explain it to me how such a brilliant and arguably the best watch designer that has ever lived, designed such incredible and timeless pieces for all of the above mentioned companies and so average pieces for his own watch company-GG ??????

    Reply
    • Hello Tom, Genta didn’t design the Vacheron Constantin 222 (which later became the Overseas), that was Hysek. A common misunderstanding.

      Best,
      RJ

      Reply
      • Hi RJ,
        Yes, you are right. The Royal Oak and the Nautilus shared the JLC caliber 920 along with VC 222. That’s what misled me. I was sure Mr. Genta designed it as well. Sorry for wrong post and thank you for correcting it.
        Cheers,
        Tom

        Reply
  10. Datuk Richard Leung

    Gerald Genta is my idol! I bought my first Royal Oak when I fell in love with beautiful watches. Every watch lover should try to collect all these iconic designs. My sincere thanks to my father-in-law, Datuk Wong Sioung Chee, also my mentor.

    Reply
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