The Watch Appreciation Thread - Page 1668
Styles mentioned in this thread:
And in regards to our recent conversation regarding the AP ROC. I think that considering your current collection NS, you are due for a fun piece. I think that you will get a whole lot of enjoyment from it, and you currently have your bases covered.
I say go for it, as long as you post a whole bunch of pics!
Since the design would be classified as very unclassic when they were first introduced, people would start to buy it as the most expensive sports watch from prestigious brands, eventually the appeal would spread to more purist watch lovers. Without doubt Gerald Genta is one great watch designer, he still needs the support of the big names to broaden his appeal.
While the Royal Oak and the Nautilus are among his 2 best known creations, I'm not sure it was him needing them to broaden his appeal. He designed a number of watches for other brands, maybe some were simply not quite as astonishing to the public. Supposedly he had some involvement at Universal Geneva designing several watches for them and having a hand in designing a few 1950s or 60s Omega Constellations and Seamasters. Then there was the Patek Elipse in the late 1960s, it was a simple time only gold watch on a strap. Not really unusual for a Patek (or any other maker of dress watches). Then came the Royal Oak in 1972, a rather bold concept. A luxury steel sports watch, that cost as much as a gold dress watch. People thought it was crazy, in fact the first batch, the famous series "A" watches with the AP symbol at 6 wasn't an overnight success. It took a few years to sell them (and I believe they were made in a batch of about 1,000). Its definitely a love it or hate it design. However, it created brand awareness in what was a tiny obscure brand to most people, at least in the US in the 1970s. I will say, its also a watch that pictures do not do justice to. Only in person can one truly see how many facets, beveled edges, and complex angles are finished with perfection. Little by little, it did eventually did catch on. Then Patek's Nautilus was released, it was another luxury sports watch with a high price tag and bold styling...from Genta (again not an overnight success with Patek puirsts who viewed it as an entry level Patek and not quite what Patek was known for, dress watches in precious metals. In fact the wait lists we saw for them a few years ago was a new scenario). Then there was the IWC Igenieur Jumbo SL ...another sports watch from Genta. Then their was the Bvlgari Bvlgari, the 1982 Omega Seamaster titanium polaris, the Cartier 38mm Pasha, and several other watches for other brands that escape me at the moment. After a while bold sports watches were not that unusual, especially as people moved toward larger sized watches and away from small ultra thin watches of the 70s.
So does is it a matter of Genta needing AP and Patek, or is it simply his designs grew bolder made a statement, and then other great designs that followed simply were not that shocking to the public? I think its important to note that today with the internet, wristwatch annual catalogs, watch magazines, watch related websites, and in depth books on watch brands Patek, AP, VC, and other brands have become far more famous as has Mr. Genta. Mechanical watches were thought to be on their way out in the 70s. Watch collecting is a larger hobby than it was and the reputations and size of Patek, AP and other brands have grown tremendously in the last 20 years. I'm 42 and I've been interested in watches since I was about 10 years old in the early 80s. I can tell you the handful of catalogs, advertisements, and reference materials from AP or Patek from the 1980s or 90s do not mention a thing about Gerald Genta. To be honest, I don't think my father or I had heard of Genta until the early to mid 90s, when a sales person at one of the few high end watch stores in my area (carrying PP, AP, VC, and IWC) mentioned that the RO and Nautilus were designed by the same person,Gerald Genta. And at that time my father already owned both a RO and a Nautilus.
Whether AP and PP made him famous vs. how much his designs helped make them more interesting and accessible to the watch collectors may be a tough scenario to unravel. Both of these companies were much smaller and less well known when the RO and Nautilus were released in the 1970s.
I would venture to say, except for independent watch makers designing for their own brand, it would be tough to think of the names of 5 watch designers besides Gerald Genta. I can come up with George Hysek who had a hand in designing VC's 222 (no its a popular misconception that Genta was involved in that one). F.A. Porsche of Porsche Design, Louis Cartier who designed the Tank (and Louis Cartier and F.A. Porsche designed watches for their own companies, so maybe its not unlike an independant). So perhaps, Genta deserves a bit more credit rather than being thought of as someone who required AP and Patek to broaden his appeal. Actually, if anything he didn't seem to care about broadening his appeal with the public, after all have you seen the watches that carry his own name. The Gerald Genta and Charles Gerard watches aren't exactly the prettiest items IMHO.
Agree here - hard to disentangle the catch-all term "brand" with (a) the specific design and (b) the contribution of the individual designer. After all, the "brand" is affected by the individual piece too, for good or for ill.
In a sense the Genta designs are a bit of an anomaly for the "big brands" - for them to even acknowledge an individual's contribution to the design of a piece. Did Genta have sharp IP lawyers advising him, insisting that he attach his name to the design to benefit somehow from association? Or was it such a risk back then that PP or AP hedged their bets by naming Genta as the designer so that they could pin the blame on him if the product did not work out? I mean - the watchmaker who designed the Caliber 89 is still alive and well: that piece exceeded the Graves Supercomplication in 1989 as the most complicated watch in the world. But Patek doesn't seem to be in a rush to get the watchmaker's name out there to give him credit. Anyone know more details about Genta's involvement with PP and AP in the early 1970s?
It's an interesting business strategy - take The Economist, a venerable publication that I read from cover to cover every week. Unlike other publications it remains profitable, and yet they do not even allow their journalists/writers to be named (at most, they take over a generic columnist's space, like "Lexington," who writes about US issues). In this sense they avoid the risk of nurturing "superstars" who will command larger salaries because of their status: this helps keep costs down. But are their journalists being exploited by not giving the credit "they deserve"?
Anyway, this has veered well beyond the original topic. Sorry. Brand and product design/"look" aside, there were little elements like the quality of finishing that prompted my 180 on the Nautilus - which meant that it had to be appreciated on the wrist. Can't convey stuff like "OMG the bracelet is so comfortable around my wrist, and the blue/green/gray dial changes so magically under different angles and lighting conditions!" without seeing it in the flesh.
I wasn't there, but outside of watch manufacturers that regularly hired him for projects (its said he designed thousands of watches), he seemed relatively unknown to the public until really the last 20 years or so. From what I have seen his name became well known by collectors as a result of the internet, dedicated watch magazines, watch related websites,and books about the brands. These things were in their infancy 20 years ago.
In addition, I have an AP catalog from 1986/87 just covering the RO models (including a not so pretty rectangular RO). There is not a single mention of the name Genta in the entire catalog which is about 20-30 pages. Another catalog again from the early to mid 90s mentions nothing about Genta, and the same goes for the Patek reference materials I have. It seems in more recent years the brand are more openly referencing Genta. Many of the catalogs or books pertaining to the RO's 40 anniversary, talk about Genta getting the famous phone call from AP's president George Golay.
I can tell you a friend of mine has connections at a major brand and he occasionally does some interviews. By coincidence he was talking about brand X (I don't want to get him in trouble with the brand), and he said although he knows who their in house designer is, but he is not allowed to meet with the person. In fact, he was told their designers are not allowed to give interviews or discuss the products with the press. They keep it so that only their regional presidents/CEOs, or other approved people can speak to the press. Whether its that they don't want designers giving away information they deem valuable, or that they don't want designers names to become more synonymous with the design than the brand's name itself (like Genta and the RO or Nautilus), I don't know.
How apropos that Town & Country decided to run this shoot with Scott Eastwood (Clint's son) wearing a certain timepiece......
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Looks like the new 41mm ROC
And thanks guys, for all your thoughts! I'll ponder and juggle my spreadsheet. (What, you don't have a watch spreadsheet?) See what needs to be done. I'm moving out of the city and buying a house this year or the next, so every watch purchase must have to be financed from the existing collection. New self imposed rule Apparently my daughter gets more enjoyment from a patch of grass than a(nother) watch to inherit
Yes, great post by Dino.
Thanks Nuke, glad you found it interesting. The age of the internet has truly helped the watch industry grow in leaps and bounds, and made it so much easier to get info about various watches. In the 1980s, unless you had a watchmaker for a buddy, the only info available was basically what the manufacturers allowed you to know through their own catalogs. I remember being astonished when I got my hands on one of the early wristwatch annuals, and I first learned about many watches all used the same base movements.
Thanks Wurger. I thought you brought up a very interesting topic. I think that today its so easy to take for granted that today Genta is almost a household word among watch collectors, but prior to the mid 1990s/internet it really wasn't so.
Definitely, the internet and ecommerce definitely helped the spread of luxury goods to all corners of the world, most of the top English shoemakers export 70% of their production overseas, and even the brick and mortar stores like Pediwear and Bodiley's have benefited immensely from this by embracing this change.
^ Love this note, and of course your earlier post about earlier history and info dissemination. You certainly addressed my question about brand association and the seemingly (for me) outsized name recognition for Genta.
Your note above about designers not being allowed to speak to the public or the media directly is how I'd expect modern companies to behave. Nothing incredibly "sinister" about that, I think: some designers aren't the best public speakers and might say something that would put, say, a publicly listed company in trouble. From a pure profit-seeking standpoint (and again, I do not attribute any "evil" necessarily to the profit motive), you also won't want "big names" that you helped build up coming back to ask for comp packages higher than they deserve.
And not terribly surprised that it was the active watch community and the internet that helped spread the word about Genta. Your post reminded me that he designed the Golden Ellipse too, a watch for which I have little love aesthetically. Haha!