Watch this space: Gerald Charles

Watch designer Octavio Garcia is reinventing the Maison’s iconic Maestro

Could any two nationalities be further apart than the reserved, meticulous Swiss and the passionate, demonstrative Italians?

One place where the two come together is in the (officially) Swiss city of Lugano, which rests right on the Italian border. It’s well worth a visit, if only to see the lake, surrounding mountains and almost Mediterranean-like scenery from the Riva Vincenzo Vela boardwalk.

And if you’re a horophile, you’ll appreciate the fact that Lugano is also the base of the Gerald Charles dial name – a brand founded in 2000 by the celebrated Swiss-Italian watch designer, the late Gérald Genta.

The “Charles” refers to Genta’s second name, and his aim in setting it up was to create a series of watches that combined his meticulous attention to detail with his often-disruptive style.   

The distinctive case shapes he created ensured Gerald Charles watches were instantly recognisable from a distance, but also pose a challenge for lesser artisans to fill – which goes some way to explaining why he remained designer-in-chief after he sold the company in 2003.

Today, it’s run from Lugano by 27-year-old joint CEO Federico Ziviani, whose aim is to establish Gerald Charles as a low-volume maker of future classics based on the original “smiling” Maestro cases first designed by Genta.

The latest of these is the GC3.0-TN-01 chronograph, the last two letters standing for “titanium” from which the case is hewn, making the watch not only exceptionally light, but hypoallergenic and corrosion-proof, too. Even the chronograph pushers and hobnailed winding crown are made from titanium, with the sporty nature of the watch being emphasised by its blue rubber strap and 100-metre water resistance – making it the ideal timepiece with which to time a lap of Lake Lugano. Either in or out of the water… 

By Simon de Burton. Simon is a journalist and author who writes for the FT’s How to Spend It, British GQ and Boat International, among others

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