Being one of the most influential people in any industry can be a blessing or a curse, depending on how you view it. Sometimes that person redefines how business is done or makes a discovery that leads to tremendous success and inadvertent destruction (like Thomas Midgley Jr., the chemist who invented leaded gasoline and CFC’s causing the most deaths by one chemist in history). These people may not be fondly remembered, but their influence cannot be overlooked.
But often the most influential people are embraced and beloved for their contributions, those like Michael Jordan, Ralph Lauren, Betty White, and Soichiro Honda. Each individual became an icon for one more reasons, and left an unforgettable impression on both their industry and the wider world as a whole. It is truly hard to quantify the impact that these people have had on the human race beyond their respective areas of talent, yet their broad popularity is easily seen.
Most industries and areas of life will have these people, and those in the know vary by the total impact they had on populations outside of their areas. I can assure you that there is a designer or engineer that is well known for their contributions to the modern pool cue, at least within the billiards and pool world. We may not know them but there will be those that will respond very enthusiastically to their name drop. Perhaps one or many of those reading this will be such a person within their own sphere of influence, be it D&D figurine creators or a world-renowned luxury skylight designer.
In the watch industry, there are many such names that people will fawn over, often for good reasons. One of the most iconic designers that people will absolutely lose their marbles for is Gerald Genta, the designer of the AP Royal Oak, Patek Philippe Nautilus, Cartier Pasha de Cartier, the IWC Ingenieur, Omega Constellation, and his own Gefica Biretro and the Octo, now owned and made by Bulgari. To say that he effectively designed the modern watch industry wouldn’t be an understatement.
But what many may not know is that after his eponymous brand Gerald Genta was sold to Bulgari in the year 2000, he did what any man at the end of a 50-year career and knocking on the door of 70 years old would do, he founded another watch brand. This time banking on his middle name (since Bulgari now owned the rights to his first and last name) Genta formed Gerald Charles to serve as another exploration of shape and form.
Today this brand persists in the memory of its founder producing watches that are explicitly a Genta design. Now the brand has introduced its latest model, the Maestro 9.0 Tourbillon, a classic yet bold aesthetic that fits right in with the typical Gerald Genta design philosophy.
Maestro 9.0 Tourbillon
For anyone versed in Gerald Genta lore, a watch that often comes up as a pinnacle of his watchmaking is the 1994 Grande Sonnerie Tourbillon because of its extremely unique case style. Using repeating stacked shapes, the case found its way into legend as one of the most unique styles the man had ever designed. The essence of that hyper watch returned when Gerald Charles was founded and Genta could explore the concept once again.
The Maestro 9.0 Tourbillon is the latest iteration of the original Maestro that launched in 2005, introducing a new shape to the Genta aesthetic library and revisiting the stacked case design from the earlier Grande Sonnerie Tourbillon. Like the original, the tourbillon is the star of the show as the Maestro models have become consistently neutral as dials go, letting the case often shine brightest. But thanks to creative director Octavio Garcia (former Audemars Piguet head designer responsible for the Royal Oak for years, another Gerald Genta creation) the Maestro 9.0 Tourbillon returns to its roots to highlight the technical complexity of the flying tourbillon.
It’s a perfect combination to match the case profile as the tourbillon almost seems like the reason the bottom of the asymmetrical case bends out into a smile. The curve is concentric to the tourbillon window, reminding me of how Greubel Forsey cases were designed to bulge at points to accommodate the movement mechanics. The tourbillon window is ringed by a delicately ribbed track with pad printed hash marks to track the seconds, traced by a blue finger mounted within the tourbillon cage shaped like the Gerald Charles logo.
Since the dial is not perfectly square, rectangular, or round, the applied hour markers are of varying lengths and angles to point back towards the center of the dial, all polished to a high shine and filled with Super-Luminova. Details continue to emerge from this unique design as one moves to interact with the watch, reaching for a polished and knurled crown that somewhat juxtaposes with the smooth and polished double step case.
The movement comes from a collaboration between engineers, Octavio Garcia, and Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier working together to create a skeletonized tourbillon echoing the design language found within Gerald Charles and Genta’s own design history. The relationship with Vaucher is likely due to the longstanding relationship Garcia has had thanks to his own brand Gorilla, and Garcia’s intimate relationship with Gerald Genta design.
Having a history with AP as the head designer of the Royal Oak allows an intimacy with Gerald Genta design that many cannot match in the industry. This allows Garcia to grasp the nuance of the design details that others might overlook. The “rippled” case bezel is the first purely Genta design element through and through, I have not seen anything else like this in the industry and it seems like something only Genta could have gotten away with.
Asymmetrical cases are a tough sell to many, but Genta understood what felt right as he assembled his designs. This heritage of feeling your way through the design is still alive with Gerald Charles and the Maestro 9.0 Tourbillon. From the case to the tourbillon to the movement, the watch appears by every element to be a purely design-oriented piece even with all the technical features.
The Maestro 9.0 Tourbillon uses a 60-second tourbillon with a cage crafted from titanium for ultimate lightness and balance, avoiding stress on the movement’s twin barrels.
Even with a large tourbillon the caliber GCA 3024/12 sports a healthy 50-hour power reserve and the addition of automatic winding. Something else that Gerald Charles Genta was about was making watches that worked for those wearing them, even the Grande Sonnerie Tourbillon wasn’t designed just to be a safe queen.
This functional design mentality is clearly present with Gerald Charles and the Maestro 9.0 Tourbillon since it has a knurled rubber strap for versatility, combined with 100 meters of water resistance. Matched with a stainless-steel case, this is a watch that is actually meant to be worn, and worn regularly. The tourbillon, while always debatable for it’s chronometric impact, still beats with a 4 Hz frequency instead of the much more traditional 2.5 Hz, and comes with a stop seconds function for precise setting of the time to the exact second.
These are not features found solely on a design-oriented watch, they are details added for wearability and practicality. One might argue that any watch like this will never be practical, but the fact of the matter is that people that can afford and buy these watches still have high standards, and many would love if their high-end tourbillon movements could go with them to more than just a black-tie gala or the boardroom.
What’s more is that the entire package comes in at a fairly thin 9.37mm in thickness, keeping it from becoming a wrist behemoth that many haute horlogerie pieces can become. The styling makes this piece pop as it is unlikely you will run into another person wearing a Gerald Genta piece quite like this, a Gerald Charles Maestro 9.0 Tourbillon is for the design-minded fans of Genta the artist and watchmaker. It cuts through the noise of the basic Royal Oak or Nautilus with something so intimately tied to Genta that no one could mistake it for the handful of other luxury sport watches.
Of course, there is an option for those that want an even higher end timepiece, Gerald Charles is releasing two smaller limited production models made with precious metal cases and diamond or sapphire set bezels, something I find that visually enhances the bezel even further. Splitting up the ripple bezel with a gap adds even more of a sport feel yet filled in with shimmer. I could imagine a future version without gemstones and replaced by a ceramic insert, possibly a luminous one, to take the Maestro in yet another practical and sportier realm.
But at the end of the day, the Maestro 9.0 Tourbillon is a Genta design through and through, boldly popping off the wrist while making people stop and ask exactly what it is. It is not the assumed Genta design, but true Genta fans know that Gerald Charles is the final exploration of the “maestro” until he passed in 2011. Launching a new tourbillon as a follow up to the original Maestro Tourbillon (which was a full skeleton watch) is a fitting evolution for the brand and the collection.
While you ponder that rippled bezel, let’s break it down!
- Wowza Factor * 9.2 It’s bezel first with the Maestro, it’s what grabs the eye!
- Late Night Lust Appeal * 92 » 902.212m/s2 Thinking about the decades of design influence behind the Maestro 9.0 Tourbillon is enough to keep you up until sunrise!
- M.G.R. * 63.1 Vaucher designed automatic tourbillon movement with twin barrels and stop seconds, yes please!
- Added-Functionitis * N/A Like many before and many after you can skip the Gotta-HAVE-That cream and just appreciate the watch for what it is!
- Ouch Outline * 9.4 Falling asleep with your neck draped over something hard! Perhaps as I get another year older this affects me more, but you really need to be careful if you fall asleep and are supporting your head with something hard and angled, cuz you will wake up feeling paralyzed. Still, I would risk it for some time with the Maestro 9.0 Tourbillon!
- Mermaid Moment * It’s still the movement for me! I love Gerald Genta designs yet I still love this cool caliber the most!
- Awesome Total * 688 Begin with the number of components in the caliber (196) and multiply that with the number of versions on offer (3), then add the water resistance in meters (100) to reach an influential awesome total!
For more information, please visit www.geraldcharles.com/product/gc90-a-01/.
Quick Facts Gerald Charles Maestro 9.0 Tourbillon
Case: 39 x 41.7 x 9.37 mm, stainless steel or gem set white gold
Movement: automatic caliber GCA 3024/12, 50-hour power reserve, 28,800 vph/4Hz with 60-second flying tourbillon
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds (via tourbillon)
Price: USD $95,800