Those who innovate

1984: When Gerald Genta challenged the watchmaking establishment


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April 2020

1984: When Gerald Genta challenged the watchmaking establishment

The opening up of luxury watchmaking to contemporary creative horizons may have begun when Gerald Genta made a splash at the “Montres et Bijoux” exhibition in Geneva: in 1984, the designer released its provocative Mickey Mouse and Pink Panther models. Seen as an affront to traditional watchmaking by the show’s organisers, they created a real scandal, and the designer left the fair. Today, pop culture and luxury watchmaking are one and the same.


erald Genta, who is today more celebrated than ever, has entered the collective memory of watchmaking primarily for two design masterpieces that are still bestsellers to this day, with lengthy waiting lists: the Royal Oak for Audemars Piguet (1972) and the Nautilus for Patek Philippe (1976). In their day, these models provoked many questions: was it really possible to combine luxury and steel? Today, sport-chic is the keystone of watch sales worldwide, and these two models are proving resilient even in times of coronavirus.

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