Introducing the Gerald Genta Arena Bi-Retrograde Mickey MouseBy Cheryl Chia
The Low Down
While the late Gerald Genta is best known for the duo of watches we speak of everyday, the actual number of his designs is far greater – some 100,000 by his own account – including obscurities such as Seiko Credor Locomotive and Rolex King Midas. He also produced a thrilling variety of watches under his eponymous brand, spanning from the Grande Sonnerie, the world’s most complicated wristwatch when it was completed in 1994, to the utterly whimsical Retro Fantasy watches, featuring everything from Alice in Wonderland to Pink Panther and most famously, Mickey Mouse. These less serious watches were conversely the most horologically substantial to ever bear the Disney name.
Genta began his series of Mickey Mouse watches in the 1980s, which also included the rest of the clan such as Minnie, Donald and Goofy. Then in the 1990s, he started implementing a retrograde mechanism such that Mickey points out the minutes with his retrograde gloved hand. The famous mouse could also be found engaging in all sorts of sports such as motor racing, sailing, though he appears to specialize in golf. In 1996, Genta sold his company to The Hour Glass, and in 2000 it was acquired by Bulgari.
Last year Bulgari revealed that it was on a mission to revive the Gerald Genta brand. Along with the launch of a dedicated website, Bulgari also recreated the Retro Fantasy Mickey Mouse with an Arena case, characterized by a convex bezel, fluted flanks and crown guards that extend ever so slightly from the case. The brand has just unveiled a second Mickey Mouse watch, this time with a double-retrograde mechanism and a sports-themed Mickey, about to strike a soccer ball, on a mother-of-pearl dial.
The result of more than 20 manual processes, each dial is created using pad printing, which requiried a total of 14 image plates, or clichés, where ink is first deposited and then picked up by a pad to be stamped on the dial. The process is repeated several times to enrich the colour and also give the printed indications and motif a certain height. Some parts of the motif are further coated with transparent lacquer to add brightness, shine and volume, making it the finest Gerald Genta Retro Mickey Mouse watch to date.
As in the originals, Mickey counts off the minutes with a mobile arm and an aperture displays the jumping hours. But this time there is also a retrograde date display at his foot that is indicated by an openworked hand located just above the brand logo. The steel Arena case measures 41mm wide and is depth rated to 100 meters. Inside is the in-house self-winding calibre BVL300 – the same movement used in the Gérald Genta Arena Bi-retrograde Sport in 2020 – with a 42-hour power reserve.
The entire dial is harmoniously conceived and well considered. The highly condensed yet pleasing arrangement of the different elements lends the watch greater visual impact despite it being the same size as last year’s Arena Retro Mickey Mouse. In terms of detail, quality, design and mechanics, the Arena Bi-Retrograde Mickey Mouse is quite simply the most elaborate watch starring the said mouse to date.
Gerald Genta Arena Bi-Retrograde with Mickey Mouse Playing Football
Movement: In-house bi-retrograde BVL300; jumping hour aperture at 10 o’clock; retrograde minutes hand on a 210-degree sector; retrograde date in a 180° sector; 42-hour power reserve; 28,800 vph (4Hz)
Functions: Hours, minutes, date
Case: 41mm; stainless steel; water resistant to 100m; fast hour-adjustment corrector at 9 o’clock; “Limited Edition of 200“ engraving on the caseback
Dial: Mother-of-pearl with lacquered Mickey Mouse arm
Strap: Red textured padded rubber strap with steel folding clasp
Price: EUR 24,000
Availability: Limited to 200 pieces