Gerald Genta is a world-famous watch designer, but the man behind horological prizes like the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and Patek Philippe Nautilus preferred to call himself an artist or painter. This spring, Genta fans will have an opportunity to obtain some of his work as Sotheby’s has scheduled a three-part online auction of 100 of Mr. Genta’s paintings.
The sale, called “Gerald Genta: Icon of Time,” is to culminate in May, on a date not yet announced, when Sotheby’s Geneva plans a live auction of Mr. Genta’s own Royal Oak. While details are not settled, a portion of the sale proceeds are expected to go to the Gerald Genta Heritage Association, primarily for a prize to recognize emerging design talent.
The paintings, all watercolors, primarily depict Mr. Genta’s watch designs, and were selected from among his 3,250 paintings by Evelyne Genta, his widow and longtime business partner. “I wanted to give a very diversified view of his talent,” she said. “Gerald could do ladies’ watches, jewelry, objects, a Mickey watch, a Grande Sonnerie. So, it was quite difficult to choose the hundred.”
A centerpiece of the first sale, from Feb. 10-24, based in Geneva, is to be Mr. Genta’s debut design for the Royal Oak, which Audemars Piguet introduced in 1972. In Hong Kong, from March 7 to 16, will be Mr. Genta’s original design for the 1976 Patek Philippe Nautilus as well as three designs for Mr. Genta’s own 1995 Grande Sonnerie, then one of the world’s most complicated watches. And the New York sale, from April 14 to 28, is to feature the design of a 1986 Disney watch with a retrograde display, now a signature complication of Mr. Genta’s.
Sotheby’s has set minimum bid limits of 100 Swiss francs, or $108, for the Geneva auction; 1,000 Hong Kong dollars, or $129, in Hong Kong; and $100 in New York.
Mr. Genta’s personal Royal Oak, with a pre-sale estimate of $300,000 to $500,000, is expected to fetch the event’s highest price as, Mrs. Genta said, he customized the piece with a yellow gold bezel. “He modified it himself,” she recalled. “It’s a completely unique piece that has never existed.”
Would her husband have approved of the NFT additions? “Gerald would have loved the idea of an NFT,” Mrs. Genta said. “He was very forward thinking.”