Translated by
Nicola Mira
Apr 3, 2023
Reading time
3 minutes
Download the article
Click here to print
Text size
aA+ aA-

LVMH relaunches legendary watchmaker Gérald Genta

Translated by
Nicola Mira
Apr 3, 2023

The Royal Oak by Audemars Piguet, the Nautilus by Patek Philippe, the Constellation by Omega, the Overseas by Vacheron Constantin and the Ingénieur by IWC are some of the legendary models developed by watch designer Gérald Genta, who died in 2011. Today, the LVMH group has announced it will relaunch Genta’s eponymous brand, a legendary label founded by the designer behind the greatest watch-making successes of the 20th century. The project is supported by Gérald’s wife Evelyne Genta, and will be implemented at Louis Vuitton’s fine watch-making factory, La Fabrique du Temps (the time factory), in Switzerland.

The 1994 Grande Sonnerie model, one of the most complicated watches of its time - Gérald Genta

Gérald Genta was born in Geneva in 1931 and came from a humble background. He began working in the jewellery sector, then switched to watchmaking. In 1954, he designed for Universal Genève the Polerouter, a watch capable of resisting magnetic fields.

The first true watchmaker/designer, Genta set up his own label in 1969, while continuing to design models for other brands. He revolutionised the industry by inventing new ways of reading time, creating the most sophisticated movements combining horological, astronomical, chronographic and alarm complications, always staying true to his imaginative, iconoclastic spirit, as shown by the small watches series featuring Mickey Mouse.

In 1996, watch retailer The Hour Glass acquired a majority stake in the Gérald Genta brand. The brand was then bought in 2000 by Italian jeweller Bulgari, who was in turn acquired by LVMH in 2011. Twelve years later, the legendary watchmaker is back under the spotlight under the aegis of Jean Arnault. The youngest of the five Arnault heirs, Jean, 24, stepped into the LVMH world in September 2021 as head of marketing and watch development at Louis Vuitton. He is passionate about watchmaking, and has been working for a year on the revival of Gérald Genta as an independent brand.

Gérald Genta’s new models will be produced at La Fabrique du Temps under the supervision of master watchmakers Michel Navas and Enrico Barbasini, who have been in charge of the Louis Vuitton factory in Meyrin, Switzerland, since it was founded in 2014. Both have also worked closely with Gérald Genta for many years. Evelyne Genta, Gérald’s widow, has been associated with the project from its inception, guaranteeing her “support and cooperation” to LVMH, as the group stated in a press release.

Above all, she will allow La Fabrique du Temps “to access her husband's archives, which include several hundred designs that have never been produced,” giving the group “a considerable advantage in creating exceptional watches.”

The idea is not to re-issue old models, but to draw inspiration from the inventive designer's work and create the Gérald Genta watches for the 21st century, keeping volumes very low and focusing on high watchmaking. “Thanks to unlimited access to the design archives of Mr. Gérald Genta and the expertise of the watchmakers who have worked with him, the brand is able to draw on its heritage to create contemporary watches worthy of the Gérald Genta name," said the luxury house Gérald Genta.

Navas and Barbasini are also spearheading the revival of watchmaker Daniel Roth as an independent brand. The latter was also owned by Bulgari, who bought it in 2000 at the same time as Gérald Genta.

In 2022, sales for LVMH’s Watches & Jewellery division increased by 18% (and by 12% at comparable exchange rates), generating a revenue of €10.58 billion. Enough to encourage LVMH to broaden its top-end watchmaking range, continuing to tap the passion of wealthy consumers for this type of product.

Copyright © 2023 FashionNetwork.com All rights reserved.