Owning an original Gérald Genta design, whether it’s a sketch or an actual watch, is exciting enough for many watch collectors. But what if you could own a never-before-seen historical design from the renowned Swiss watchmaker?
Sotheby’s is auctioning off a Genta design for the first-ever luxury stainless steel chronograph, which may date back to 1967, putting it a few years ahead of Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak, which is widely regarded as the first luxury sports watch in steel. , debuted in 1972.
“The creation belongs to the golden age of Gérald Genta’s stainless steel sports pieces, a period of just a few years that completely revolutionized the world of watchmaking and our perception of watches,” said Benoît Colson, director of Sotheby’s Watches, in a press release. “If it had gone into production, this watch would undoubtedly have been a great success.”
The design, which is the only one still extant from Genta’s archives with IWC, depicts a watch with many elements seen in other timepieces made by the designer. Like the Royal Oak and the Nautilus, it is a stainless steel wristwatch with a bezel decorated with screws. However, unlike these pieces, it was made as a chronograph from the start (the Royal Oak was designed as a chronograph in 1998; the Nautilus in 2006).
Although it’s possible the design was created in the early 1970s, a few clues suggest an earlier date: the dial layout suggests the watch would have had a hand-wound movement, which was largely discontinued after 1969 in favor automatic movements. . Hannes Pantli, who has worked at IWC since 1972, was unfamiliar with the design until now, and he would probably have been involved in any chronograph project after joining the company. And IWC hoped to add a chronograph watch to its line as early as 1967, which may have led to the creation of this design.
“Whether the drawing was made in 1967 or the mid-1970s, it nonetheless demonstrates Gerald Genta’s genius and vision,” Colson said. “With his creation, he was not only one step ahead of his time in creating a stainless steel luxury sports watch, but rather two steps ahead with the first complicated stainless steel luxury sports watch. .”
The design is one of the highlights of Sotheby’s latest installment in its “Gérald Genta: Icon of Time” series, which runs from June 8 to June 22. Other notable lots include Genta’s sketches of the Seiko Credor Locomotive and the Bulgari Roma. Our eye, however, is on the historic CBI design – and we’re betting plenty of Genta enthusiasts will be wowed too.