Gérald Genta and the Ingenieur SL – Memories (Part II)
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FIND OUT MORE ABOUT GÉRALD GENTA’S WATCH DESIGNS, MODUS OPERANDI AND COLLABORATION WITH IWC SCHAFFHAUSEN IN THIS RARE INTERVIEW WITH HIS WIFE AND BUSINESS PARTNER, EVELYNE GENTA
THE NEWLY DISCOVERED INGENIEUR DRAWING
Do you remember Gérald talking about the Ingenieur SL?
Gérald talked about the Ingenieur a lot. He always liked IWC for their seriousness, for doing their own thing, and for being true watchmakers. And he was very proud of the Ingenieur. He felt that the name “Ingenieur” was reflecting IWC and what they do very well. He also appreciated that they didn’t fight him on his design. They got it straight away; they just understood it.
IWC recently discovered the original drawing of the Ingenieur SL. You assisted in certifying its authenticity. Can you tell us more?
When the design was recovered, it was very exciting for me to see it as I had no trace of it in my archive. Gérald talked about the Ingenieur a lot. When IWC showed me the drawing, it was very moving for me to hold it in my hands for the first time. I made a copy which I am now keeping in the archive as well. I am excited that it has been discovered and certified by the Gérald Genta Heritage Association.
— Evelyne Genta during the IWC Ingenieur campaign
— Gérald Genta’s Ingenieur SL “Jumbo” Ref. 1832
Did you know right away that it was genuine?
Absolutely. Everybody seems to be discovering Genta designs these days, and I would never give my approval if I were not 100% sure. Currently, two well-known watch brands are asking me if a design they found is from my husband, but I don’t have proof because he never talked about these other watches. So, I will not give them my authorisation while I grant it – totally freewillingly – to IWC.
Does the drawing feature typical traits of his technique and style?
The paper, the technique, the colours. Looking at the rest of his designs, you instantly see that these are the same. Nobody else could have done it. What I thought was particularly interesting is that the crown is octagonal – Gérald was obsessed with octagonal shapes, even my wedding ring is octagonal. This is so typical!
However, he seems to have used a different signature on this drawing.
Yes, this is a signature that he would use early on in his career. He’s always had different signatures, even later in life, but I have seen this one before. It is definitely a Genta design.
You have seen the new Ingenieur Automatic 40. Do you like it?
Yes, I think it is very faithful to Gérald’s design – I am sure my husband would have liked it.
[…] he never looked at other people’s watches. He used to say that it would damage his creativity.
INSPIRED BY NATURE
Where did Gérald’s inspiration usually come from?
He loved nature. He used to say that all shapes and colours are in nature. And he loved architecture and art. But he never looked at other people’s watches. He used to say that it would damage his creativity. He paid so much attention to the world around him. For instance, if he were to visit your apartment, he would look around and notice everything there was to see.
Did he hold on to an old design, or was he constantly improving things?
Gérald’s artistic vision was very detailed, and his drawings were always very close to the watch we would make in the end. If he changed a design, it would only occur during the manufacturing process – most changes were motivated by technical issues that came up at that stage.
Were there exchanges between him and the watchmakers, the engineers?
All the time! He didn’t just design a piece and then forget about it. He was constantly up and down the floors of the factory, talking to everyone involved in the manufacturing process. My husband knew exactly what he wanted and always wore the prototypes. We only made the final piece once he was totally happy with it.
Is it true that he didn’t like to wear watches?
That’s true. On some occasions, I had to insist on him wearing a watch. Of course, if you go to the Basel Fair, it looks better if you wear a watch. But at home, did he bother? No!
— Evelyne Genta looking at an original Ingenieur SL Ref. 1832
He painted every day. He loved drawing his watches, yes, but had he been able to, I think he would have been a painter.
— Evelyne Genta wearing the new Ingenieur Automatic 40 IW328902
PASSION FOR PAINTING AND PS
Besides watches, was there anything else he was passionate about?
Painting! He painted every day. He loved drawing his watches, yes, but had he been able to, I think he would have been a painter. He once said that if he had lived in Italy, he would probably have designed cars – Gérald loved cars. But because he was born in Switzerland he designed watches instead. His true love was painting.
Who was your husband’s favourite painter?
He was obsessed with Picasso. Picasso was the ultimate artist to him because he painted, sculpted, and mastered so many creative expressions. That’s why they call Gérald the “Picasso of timepieces” in Singapore.
How many watches did your husband design throughout his whole career?
I can’t tell you because I honestly don’t know. I roughly have 3,100 watch designs and about 400 paintings in my archive, but so many of his designs are lost. Early on in his career, Gérald travelled around Switzerland and sold his drawings for 15 Francs. We have no idea how many watches he designed during all those years. He probably designed up to 100,000 watches in total.
In 2019, you founded the Gérald Genta Heritage Association. Why?
The primary purpose is to preserve my husband’s artistic legacy and heritage. I am excited when I see how many personalities from the watch world have already come on board to support the idea. But we also want to encourage and inspire a younger generation of watch designers. With that in mind, we are now preparing a design competition, and hopefully, we will be able to announce something soon.