Only Watch season is upon us, which means some of the best names in watchmaking are contributing unique timepiece creations for the medical research-focused charity auction (created by Luc Pettavino) that was originally founded in Monaco. aBlogtoWatch has covered Only Watch many times over the years, breaking with our rule that we  don’t cover auctions editorially — because the main point of Only Watch (when brands do it right) is to offer something special and one-of-a-kind for a good cause. LVMH brands appear to be offering some of the strongest propositions to Only Watch in 2023. Gerald Genta is relaunching (under the ownership of LVMH) and, accordingly, has a compelling Only Watch 2023 timepiece entrant. It appears that the official Gerald Genta website is also launching today, which means that there might also be information about the first production models. This particular piéce unique is not a retail watch, so it’s not clear what the final auction price will be (I won’t even venture to make guesses). Even though only one person will get this particular Mickey Mouse watch, there are likely hints here as to what the upcoming new Gerald Genta pieces are going to be like.

This unique Mickey Mouse Minute Repeater watch is packed with small details and nuances about not just Disney, but also Gerald Genta himself. Note that Gerald Genta was the first person to put Mickey Mouse on a luxury timepiece. I actually had a recent conversation with Gerald Genta’s widow, Evelyne Genta, about the original Gerald Genta Disney watches from the 1990s. I asked her how they came about, especially since they were officially licensed by Disney in a way that seemed different from its normal licensing business. She explained that the leader of Disney at the time was a Gerald Genta fan and had asked Genta to produce something special for him. In exchange, Genta took the opportunity to request a license to produce high-end Disney character watches (including Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Minnie Mouse, and Goofy). He agreed. By going directly to the top, Genta got fair terms that would otherwise not exist and allowed for the creation of low-production luxury timepieces featuring Disney characters.

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In the 1980s, it was considered extremely controversial for Gerald Genta (or anyone, for that matter) to create a luxury watch with a cartoon character on it. The staunch conservatism of the Swiss watch industry went so far as to ask Gerald Genta not to show the watches at Baselworld. Some saw the entrance of pop culture as an affront to the old-world elegance that personified timepiece design, as they saw it. How ironic, then, that Disney is currently celebrating the 100th anniversary of not just the company but of Mickey Mouse. Is 100 years old ancient enough for something to be considered the viable subject of a luxury watch dial? Is Patek Philippe ready to do so (Patek has featured cars and boats newer than Mickey Mouse on the dials of watches)? My point is that the watch industry was silly to rebuke Genta in the 1980s, even though it was not at all surprising. The prescience of Mr. Genta in this regard today is apparent. The number of cartoon and pop culture characters on even the most expensive watches today is a defining element of a major part of the luxury timepiece industry. This wristwatch rendition of Mickey Mouse celebrating his 100th birthday is tame by comparison to much of what else is out there today.

Genta wanted to be the “Picasso of watch design.” He saw himself as more of an artist than an industrial designer. I mention this because that is essentially what the Gerald Genta signature on the dial is meant to evoke. This is not his own signature, but rather an artistic rendition of his signature meant to look like Picasso’s signature. While Gerald Genta is not alive today to participate in the relaunch of his brand, the watchmakers who worked with him are. They are Enrico Barbasini and Michel Navas, who currently run La Fabrique du Temps. This facility is owned by LVMH and is where Louis Vuitton watches are produced. La Fabrique du Temps (located near Geneva) is also where Daniel Roth (also being relaunched) and Gerald Genta watches will be made. Barbasini and Navas used to make complicated musical watches and tourbillons with Gerald Genta – which will be a defining part of the relaunched brand, in addition to a return to whimsical design.

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While this particular Mickey Mouse dial will only exist on this one-of-a-kind Only Watch 2023 timepiece, I believe that this Gerald Genta case and movement will continue on into new models. The movement is an improvement on historic Gerald Genta brand mechanisms, with improved performance and durability. It is the in-house manually wound caliber GG-001. It features a two-hammer minute repeater (with a pusher-style activator), as well as a dial with a jumping hour and retrograde minutes indicator. The minute hand is Mickey’s hand and moves across the minute scale that is written in a festive font. The movement operates at 3Hz with 80 hours of power reserve and will most likely be visible through the watch’s caseback.

The case itself does not have a name yet. It was part of the Octo collection but since that name is currently being used by Bulgari (also part of LVMH), it is unlikely that it will also be used for this Gerald Genta watch. The case is beautiful, though, and does have an octagonal shape. For this model, the case is 40mm-wide in 18k white gold. The case is 10.96mm-thick and water-resistant to 50 meters. The Mickey Mouse dial is made by one artisan at La Fabrique du Temps using a champleve enamel technique. Attached to the watch is a red-colored textured rubber strap.


It is great to see Disney reaffirming their relationship with the Gerald Genta brand as it relaunches. The hint, of course, is that there will be more Disney watches to come. When Gerald Genta was still under the Bulgari brand name, there were Mickey Mouse watches produced as recently as 2020 and 2021. Now it looks as though that trend will continue, as will the return of this beautiful octagonal case design with improved versions of classic Gerald Genta timepiece creations. Learn more at the Gerald Genta watches website.

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