Geneva Watch Days: Hands-On With The Gérald Genta Arena Bi-Retrograde Sport
Gérald Genta’s spirit lives on as Bulgari unveils a dynamic new addition to the Genta legacy at Geneva Watch Week.
There’s a reason why Gérald Genta is the most celebrated designer in watchmaking. He practically invented sporty chic with the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and the Patek Philippe Nautilus. And his Grand Complication timepieces introduced new ways to read time with his retrograde and bi-retrograde movements.
But it was the audacious pieces he created under his signature brand that made him a legend. Genta always brought a dauntless sense of fun to haute horology, and the new Gérald Genta Arena Bi-Retrograde Sport, just introduced at Geneva Watch Week, is the perfect example of why we are Team Genta all the way!
In 2000, Bulgari bought Genta’s eponymous brand. To fully incorporate the irreverent approach to watchmaking typical of Gérald Gent, Bulgari also brought most of his team and its expertise into the Bulgari manufacture at Le Sentier. Later, Genta himself started a new company called Gérald Charles, but that’s a story for another day.
The combined forces proved to be mutually beneficial. By folding the Genta team’s decades of expertise into their watchmaking force, it helped inspire Bulgari’s recent run of record-breaking timepieces. And at the same time, the luxury giant has helped preserve the Genta legacy.
But as the Arena Bi-Retrograde Sport proves, Bulgari is also willing to play – riffing on that legacy by updating classic Genta ideas and silhouettes.
The Arena Bi-Retrograde Sport is a follow up to 2019’s Gérald Genta 50th Anniversary Arena Bi-Retro (read HERE). Both timepieces feature an arena case, inspired by the gladiatorial amphitheaters of ancient Rome, and both feature a jumping hour window at 12 o'clock with a minute track along the top half of the dial.
While Genta had made good use of retrograde minutes and jumping hour counters, it wasn‘t until 1996 that he married the two. And he did it in the most delightful display, with a date track on the bottom half of the dial. What fun it is to observe the minutes and the date snapping back at the end of the hour or month.
Bulgari has upgraded the mechanism that makes this magic happen, replacing the original quartz movement with the automatic caliber BVL 300. This feat of engineering can be viewed through a sapphire crystal case back.
To pay homage to Genta’s ground-breaking sporty aesthetic, Bulgari opted to use a 43mm wide and 12mm thick case constructed of well-machined and brushed titanium. This material also makes the watch more accessibly priced than the 2019 platinum version.
Additionally, its anthracite dial with bright yellow and brushed silver accents and handsome matte black alligator clasp with titanium folding clasp lends a more contemporary look.
The biggest change from the original Genta design codes is the most subtle. The Arena Bi-Retrograde Sport is the first in the Bulgari/Gérald Genta union to feature an all-new logo. This double G signature may not have been in use in Genta’s time, but it certainly has the late 20th-century vibes that the designer favored.
It also signals that Bulgari is serious about building out the Gérald Genta collection. Which will make enthusiasts very happy.