Gérald Genta: the first modern innovator

Fine arts has Pablo Picasso, architecture has Frank Gehry & the watch world has Gérald Genta. Unquestionably the most outstanding watch designer of all time, Swiss native Gérald Genta, is behind some of the most iconic timepieces ever created.

Here's a quote from one of history's most essential & prodigious watch designers: "I don't like timepieces! For me, timepieces are the antithesis of liberty. I am an artist, a painter, I hate having to adhere to the constraints of time. It irritates me." But much as it might have frustrated would-be painter Gérald Genta's, the guy's real talent was for designing those objects he claims to dislike. 

The historical record bears it out. Born in the year 1931 in Geneva, Genta is responsible for P. P. Nautilus & A.P. Royal Oak, among some other highly recognizable watches.

Throughout his career (1931-2011), Gérald Genta, a legendary watch designer, designed some of the most iconic designs in the watch world, operating with brands from Omega to Audemars Piguet & IWC & eventually building an independent brand (now incorporated into Bulgari, one of his separate clients) making timepieces under his name.

Unfortunately, he passed away in 2011 at 80. Gérald Genta's legacy lives on inside his creations. Even if you have not heard his name, you must be familiar with the watches he designed. 

From the Nautilus to the Ingenieur to the Royal Oak, First Class Timepieces, through this article, let you look at some of his most famous creations.

  • Patek Philippe Nautilus

Patek Philippe Nautilus

The Nautilus made its debut in 1976. Besides its famous stylish case shape, other characteristics such as the integrated bracelet & horizontal grooves on the dial are still alive & doing really well in today's Patek sports watch versions.

The timepiece was another one of Genta's unique & original designs. Knowing the Stern family were passionate yachtsmen, Genta designed this particular watch in 1974 as a sports watch with a bezel resembling a porthole. Gérald Genta also created the Golden Ellipse for Patek Philippe in 1968. The P.P. Nautilus continues to be one of the most famous & iconic luxury sports timepieces.

Patek Philippe Nautilus Models at FCT:

  • IWC Ingenieur

IWC Ingenieur

Although the IWC Ingenieur had been around since 1954 as a timepiece for scientists, engineers & medical professionals, it gained legendary status when Gérald Genta put his stamp on it in the 1970s. Gerald Genta is also liable for reinventing IWC's Ingenieur.

This particular element became part of its distinctive design. As noticed on the IWC Double Chronograph Titanium when it was launched several years back & revamped the collection. IWC uncovered an even more retro-looking redesign of the Ingenieur watch in 2017.

Today's Ingenieur compilation consists of many different styles & complications & some models clearly maintain the 1970s look of Gérald Genta's design.

IWC Ingenieur Models at FCT:



The very first Bvlgari Bvlgari's motivation was an old & antique Roman coin with the emperor's effigy encircled by engraved inscriptions. Gerald Genta implemented this design element to the watch's bezel, which owns the two "Bulgari" engravings.

The model derives its repetitive name. The case's cylindrical shape is also influenced by ancient Rome, specifically by Roman temples' columns. 

He also confirmed that his timepiece pattern for the BVLGARI-BVLGARI for Italian house Bulgari actually did not equalize with enthusiasm. However, that very first timepiece from the year 1977 experienced huge success & laid the basis for its signature motifs. 

You can still see the double logo on watches, handbags, jewelry pieces & other Bulgari accessories. After its 36 years of continuation, the Bulgari Bulgari has undergone some slight changes, incorporating the transition from quartz to mechanical movements & some in size to suit modern tastes.

  • Cartier Pasha

Cartier Pasha

The current Cartier Pasha timepiece was created by none other than celebrated watch designer Gerald Genta. Before the Pasha, Gerald Genta had already produced many iconic luxury sports watches.

Genta's newly designed Cartier Pasha watch was somewhat different from the other timepieces in its group for several reasons. First, it donned a round case rather than the square, rectangular & oval-shaped ones that Cartier was famous for. Furthermore, the fresh Pasha de Cartier's dial had Arabic numbers instead of the usual Cartier Roman numerals.

That watch was water-resistant adequately to supplement the Pasha on his daily swims & modern enough to wear while attending to his formal duties. 50 years later, Gérald Genta's reinterpretation with its round case, distinct lugs & four numerals on the dial made the Pasha the go-to luxury sports watch for the jet set.

Cartier Pasha Models at FCT:

  • Audemars Piguet Royal Oak

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak

Gérald Genta operated with Audemars Piguet for around 20 years before designing the Royal Oak in 1970. The story goes that Audemars Piguet's Managing Director at the time challenged him to design a waterproof watch utterly different from anything on the market. So Genta obliged & designed the Royal Oak in one night.

With a vintage diving helmet as motivation, the Royal Oak highlighted eight visible bolts on a sharp octagonal bezel that sat on the top of what was considered a massive case for the era. Design elements that continue to represent the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak now.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Models at FCT:

In an interview almost 2 years before his death, Gérald Genta stated that he had designed at least 100,000 watches during his prolific career. Whether true or not, Gerald Genta's different & unique aesthetic codes have expanded the look of modern luxury timepieces & will proceed to do so for decades to come.