For the first time since his death a decade ago, famed watch designer Gérald Genta’s private vault is to be opened with some of the treasures within being put up for auction––with a twist.
Sotheby’s has announced it will offer 100 original drawings from “the Picasso of watchmaking” in spring 2022 with NFT replicas of each physical artwork. Select drawings and watercolors will showcase never-before-seen archive material and multimedia biographical content. You’ll even be able to bid on the designer’s iconic 1970 sketch for the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and his original design of the Nautilus for Patek Philippe. The works will be presented in the three-part “Gérald Genta: Icon of Time Sale” taking place in Geneva, Hong Kong and New York from February through April next year.
Following the series, collectors can then be in the running to acquire the designer’s personal Royal Oak from Audemars Piguet. Made from yellow gold and stainless steel, the unique timepiece will be included in Sotheby’s Biannual Auction in Geneva. The sale takes place in May 2022 and will coincide with the model’s 50th anniversary of its release. Also up for auction are four rare oil paintings by Genta at the final sale. Each is said to pay tribute to the Nautilus and Royal Oak references, according to Sotheby’s.
From Christie’s to Phillips, today’s top auction houses are appealing to tech-savvy bidders by pairing physical works with digital replicas—which ensures a piece will maintain its value for years after it’s sold. In this case, your Genta NFTs will serve as a record of ownership and proof of provenance for each design. The value of each physical artwork you buy is directly connected to its digital counterpart, as it cannot be resold without the NFT that confirms its legitimacy. Bidding on the NFT lots will start at 100 CHF for the Geneva sale, HKD 1,000 for the Hong Kong sale, and $100 for the New York sale.
If the name Gerald Genta is unfamiliar, here’s a quick primer: He was born in Geneva in 1931 and earned his Swiss Federal Diploma as a jeweler and goldsmith by age 20. One of the designers early pieces was Universal Genève’s Polerouter, before he went on to pen some of the most iconic watch designs of the 20th Century. In a statement, the artist’s life and business partner, Evelyne Genta explains: “Gérald was always ahead of his time—it seemed only natural to continue his legacy of pushing boundaries in watchmaking, by reviving these revolutionary sketches with today’s most innovative artform: NFTs.”
Additional drawings to be offered in the ‘Gérald Genta: Icon of Time Sale’ include the Disney Collection of ‘Fantasy’ watches, requested from the CEO of the company and released in 1986; the Pasha de Cartier models first released in 1985, three Grand Sonnerie wristwatch designs from 1995 that were made to emulate London’s Big Ben, and other grand commissions for royalty including the Queen Mother of England.
The auction dates for your calendars include Geneva from February 10-24, Hong Kong from March 10-24, and New York from April 13-27. A portion of the proceeds from the sales will go towards the Gérald Genta Heritage Association to encourage and reward the next generation of watchmakers. Visit Sothebys.com for more information.