Introducing the Gerald Charles GC SportBy Suan Futt Yeo
Watch designers aren’t generally celebrated, they remain largely anonymous, but in a few instances, their work becomes so culturally significant that it’s no longer possible to keep their names under wraps. One such example is Gerald Genta, whose designs encompass some of the most iconic sports watches in contemporary times. These include the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, the first luxury sports watch in steel that cost more than a gold watch; and the Patek Phillipe Nautilus, a minty edition of which was recently auctioned for USD 6 million.
Genta went on to start his own eponymous brand Gerald Genta in 1969, known for high complication watches. When this was acquired by Bulgari in 2000, Genta left the company to found Gerald Charles. He sold this company three years later and stayed on as its chief designer till his passing in 2011. According to Gerald Charles, Genta has left a veritable treasure trove of his designs which are now the property of the company, and form the basis of Gerald Charles collections including the GC Sport.
The GC Sport is not a regular octagon; it’s a complex case shape and correspondingly, for the crystal. In a regular watch, water tightness around the irregular-shaped crystal would be an issue, but Gerald Charles intended this for sports use, and so the watch is tested to 100 meters of water resistance, with the added assurance from a screw-down crown. Compared to the earlier Maestro models, the GC Sport looks sportier by having Arabic numerals for the quarter hours instead of the rather diminutive dots on the former.
The GC Sport is a lithe 8mm in thickness, and in Grade 5 titanium, weights just 50g, representing a 40% weight saving from the earlier Maestro models in stainless steel. The dial of the GC Sport is coated with multiple layers of paint of varying shades, so that it looks a little different under changing lighting conditions. Along with the sports watch intent, the strap is made of vulcanised rubber, stamped with a Clous de Paris pattern that mirrors that on the crown.
Inside, the GC Sport is fitted with an automatic movement from Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier, the same company that supplies Parmigiani Fleurier and Hermes.
There’s huge appetite for a luxury sports watch in the vein of the Royal Oak and Nautilus: refined, elegant, “sporty”, in the way a luxury sports car is meant for a gala or a quick run on a good road, not for chucking about in a dirt rally. And a sports watch with Gerald Genta’s fingerprints on it puts the watch in the same room as some of the most iconic cult watches of our time.
Besides the pedigree, Gerald Charles must also have been watching when Rafael Nadal was winning his tournaments with million-dollar Richard Milles on his wrist. As we are informed by the company, the GC Sport is “tested and approved” by professional tennis players of the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals). And it has its crown on the left side, so the crown is out of the way when worn on the left hand, leaving the right hand for swinging the racket. Not for Nadal, then.
Movement: Self-winding GCA 3002 Manufacture from Vaucher, 4Hz, 50 hours power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date
Case: Grade 5 titanium, 39mm x 41mm, 8mm thick, 100 meters water resistance
Strap: Vulcanised rubber strap