Not content with the revival of Daniel Roth, LVMH now has its sights set on another significant brand that has been dormant for decades. With the help of La Fabrique du Temps, Louis Vuitton, with the cooperation of Evelyne Genta (Gerald Genta’s widow), has announced the revival of Gerald Genta.
Having designed more than 100,000 watches, including the Royal Oak, Nautilus, and the Ingenieur, Gerald Genta is arguably the most important watch designer of the 20th century. But he was also a pioneer in independent watchmaking, having set up his own brand in 1969, and creating several significant watches. These include the world’s thinnest minute repeater, standing at just 2.72 mm tall, as well as what was, at the time, the world’s complicated watch: The Grand Sonnerie, with over 1,000 parts, including a tourbillon, perpetual calendar, grande et petite sonnerie with Westminster carillon, and automatic winding.
With the reputation of the man himself and an impressive track record, it is natural that the Gerald Genta brand will eventually be revived by the vigilant LVMH, which has had the brand in its stable since the takeover of Bvlgari in 2011. Bvlgari acquired Gerald Genta from Singapore retailer The Hour Glass in 2000, following a sales downturn led by the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis.
Bvlgari made a few limited editions with the Gerald Genta in 2019, namely the Arena Bi-retro in platinum, before announcing during Geneva Watch Days 2021 that it would bring back the Genta brand. The inaugural watch was an instantly recognizable Genta, the Arena Retrograde Mickey Mouse.
Now, with La Fabrique du Temps (LFDT) taking charge instead of Bvlgari, the Gerald Genta brand will be “revived” again in grand style. LFDT is a complication specialist that was acquired by LVMH over a decade ago and has been upgraded to become a full-fledged facility in Merlyn, incorporating other production components such as dial-making. Fortunately, LFDT is still headed by the original founders, Michel Navas and Enrico Barbasini, who used to work with the late Mr. Genta in the 1980s and 1990s, adding a personal touch to the new Gerald Genta brand.
Importantly, LVMH has received the nod from Evelyne, Mr. Genta’s business partner, and widow, to access Mr. Genta’s archives, which include hundreds of designs that were never realized. This should mean that the new brand will produce watches that respect Mr. Genta’s traditions while surprising the world with new launches that channel the spirit of the original.
Another relieving hint of the quality of upcoming launches can be seen on the social media of Jean Arnault, the youngest son of Bernard Arnault, who is overseeing the marketing and development of watchmaking at Louis Vuitton, and is also behind the revival of Daniel Roth. Mr Arnault has shared some classic examples of Gerald Genta’s watches with interesting case shapes and high complications. These watches also feature lavish decoration, such as engraving and jewellery, which were favoured by Gerald Genta’s original clientele, often consisting of wealthy royals who desire the finest and most unique pieces.