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.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak
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 Diver pictured here, first unveiled in 2013.
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.
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, the latest in the series.
Genta is also known to have designed several models in the Omega Constellation line. The series of watches still continues today, with most recent version being the Omega Constellation Sedna Gold.
Patek Philippe Nautilus
The Patek Philippe Nautilus was another one of Genta’s original designs. Knowing the Stern family were enthusiastic yachtsmen, he 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.
This article was originally published on October 6, 2014, and has been updated.