Gerald Genta Gefica Bi-Retro Safari Watch Available On James List: A True Collectible

Gerald Genta Gefica Bi-Retro Safari Watch Available On James List: A True Collectible

Gerald Genta Gefica Bi-Retro Safari Watch Available On James List: A True Collectible Sales & Auctions

I continue to lament the loss of watch industry design and figure-head Gerald Genta who died this year. People tend to remember him most for his classic contributions to the industry - which include 1970s' designs for the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, Vacheron Constantin Overseas, IWC Ingenieur, and Patek Philippe Nautilus. Granted these were all amazing and endearing designs - though they were however obvious siblings of one another. My colleague at Fratello Watches discusses those here a bit. Personally, I am a bit more interested in his later work. All that is summed up and epitomized in the Gefica Bi-Retro.

Gerald Genta Gefica Bi-Retro Safari Watch Available On James List: A True Collectible Sales & Auctions

The modern interpretation of the Gefica concept is a watch I dearly want to add to my collection (and I rarely say things like that about watches that are no longer being made). As time goes on the leadership Genta took in terms of design risk and innovation is clear. For example, right now bronze watches are all hot and in. The Gefica was mostly in bronze when most people laughed at use of the metal. The case was (is) 47mm wide and almost 20mm thick - even in the early 2000s when people thought this was a crazy size. It showed the world that a true modern watch incorporated both an innovative layout of telling the time as well as case design. It relied heavily on titanium, and it has a serious personality all to its own.

On top of that the design is emotional. Rumor has it that Genta was inspired during a safari in Africa before designing the watch. The Gefica Bi-Retro often has "Safari" in the name and combines a series of design features that have an almost tribal look to them. It is like modern art meets ritualistic drum circle - who else can pull that off?

Gerald Genta Gefica Bi-Retro Safari Watch Available On James List: A True Collectible Sales & Auctions

For years I have admired the Gefica almost as an icon. The design was so vivid to me I almost didn't want to disgrace it by wearing it. While the case was designed from the ground up to be ergonomic, you rarely see people wearing these. It really takes a strong personality to match wits with this watch. The classic Gefica from the 1980s was impressive for its design, but this 2000's era Gefica Bi-Retro is a landmark.

A few years ago I first encountered a Gerald Genta Gefica Bi-Retro at a watch event and got to put the watch on my wrist for the first time- it was amazing. I was stunned at the quality and level of detail. A watch design like this is really not easy to manufacture. Not only is the dial very complex with many colors and levels, but the case is literally made out of two materials. Most of the case is finely cut bronze, and all the little "balls" around it are applied individually and in titanium.

Gerald Genta Gefica Bi-Retro Safari Watch Available On James List: A True Collectible Sales & Auctions

Genta chose bronze because of its patina developing properties. This is a metal that you want to look aged. It goes with the design of the watch and is part of its character. This piece has the charm of aged jeans. Designing a dial to go with this was not likely an easy task. The amazing thing is that the dial of the Gefica doesn't look like the case at all, but still seems to go with it. Here Genta called upon his love for art deco and clean lines. 1920s futuristic and rugged outback never did go together so well (or at all). Over the years the dial of the watch was available in a range of colors (with matching alligator strap). The fold-over titanium clasp is also a nicely architected thing of beauty.

Going along with his love of retrograde hands and jumping hour complications, the Gefica Bi-Retro has both. The name itself basically is short for "bi-retrograde." The hour is told digitally through a window close to 12 o'clock, while the minutes are expressed on an arched scale with a hand that moves across it and then jumps back to the first position. Seconds are displayed via a traditional hand that goes around the entire dial. A second retrograde has is used on the lower half of the dial to indicate the date. I love those hands that look like bubbly magnifying lenses (the large opening in the hand is also done to prevent obstruction when reading the hour) . In my opinion the Gefica Bi-Retro dial design is an incredible item of beauty and genius.

Gerald Genta Gefica Bi-Retro Safari Watch Available On James List: A True Collectible Sales & Auctions

When you turn over the Gefica you see an amazing looking movement, and it looks unlike anything else you'll see. Most brands try to visually separate the automatic rotor from the rest of the movement. Not here. Both the movement parts and automatic rotor are applied with micro-perlage polishing. It looks incredible as well as unique. The movement is called the Calibre GG 1004 automatic. It is a base Girard-Perregaux automatic with a special retrograde module built by Gerald Genta. A great combo if you ask me.

You can look online for additional pictures of the Gerald Genta Gefica Bi-Retro watch. A few years ago the Gerald Genta watch brand died before the man himself did. It was engulfed by owner group Bulgari. So no more of these Gefica watches will ever be made. The good news is that Bulgari has continued the Gefica Bi-Retro using Bulgari branding. The case is the same but they changed the dial. I personally like the Gerald Genta version a bit better, but the Bulgari model will suffice as well. Price for the Gefica Bi-Retro retailed for about $18,000. Fair, but still really pricey. The good news is that prices on the pre-owned market are a bit more reasonable. Like this one for example available on James List that is just under $7,000. For me, this is a piece that WILL be in my collection sooner or later.

  • MatthewM

    What a beautiful design!

  • Ulysses

    Can’t believe i’m saying this but I actually quite like this watch. Numerous clever little touches speak to me, despite the unusual looks. The little cut-out in the minute hand that is the exact same size as the hour window, for example. Legibility was not cast aside for the sake of design like it is in so many other watches. Actually, those white hands resemble ring-pulls somewhat, but that just makes them more interesting. The little beads on the perimeter of the case seem superfluous but they do help to distinguish different elements of the watch.

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  • kris c

    I’ve loved this watch since it was born. Still do. $7k is manageable and tempting…

    And I would agree that the hands look more like old beer can rings, but that doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I’d match wits with this thing on a more than regular basis.

  • A great watch Ariel, and I agree this resonates much more emotionally with me than the Royal Oak, Nautilus and their cousins. I hope you manage to acquire one!

    Any idea how well this caliber stands up to time, whether it’s finicky and needs regular maintenance, has issues, etc?

  • Chris

    To echo what the others here have said, I fell in love with the Bi-Retro from the moment I saw an ad in WatchTime for it. The model on JamesList is my favorite, down to the dial colors.

    I do find it interesting that the listing has it as both “Brand new” and “Pre-owned”. No matter; for $7,000 it is still an incredible watch at a very reasonable price. These don’t show up for sale all that often.

    I hope this one goes to a good home where it will be worn rather than dropped in a safe.

  • Richard

    Beautiful watch. The Bulgari iteration does not do justice to Genta’s vision.

  • Dean Grant Baker

    If I wanted to wear a beer can pull on my wrist;well; I’d do that.
    Some of you actually like this monstrosity? Really? or to be more honest; are you just feeling sorry for a dead guy you never knew; that made watches you’ll never wear.
    He may have been a nice guy; but his watch designs are simply hideous [and are very dated/they don’t stand the test of time; (pun intended)]; you listed his contributions above; that list could easily be “the ugliest watches ever made list” well barring that fud from MBnF, that is.

    Dr. George Daniels has said it best when it comes to vintage pieces. Look it up.

    • Dean, we appreciate knowing in detail what you don’t like. The question is that I (and I suspect others) don’t know what you do like. You like to bash stuff like it just offended your mother. And if it did, I am sorry that your feelings are hurt. Clearly people with some education and taste can enjoy this watch (and others which you discuss in an almost despising manner). I am not asserting everyone should bow to these piece, but there is no objective reason not to. Your opinions are SUPER welcome here, but don’t bash items of mere subjective taste. Trust me, I know good and bad watches, and this is not a badly designed watch.

    • Dean Grant Baker

      and funny; one of your “grail’s” and in all of your write-up you forget to mention it has an “alarm”?
      is the James List wrong? That said; I see James’s also says it’s a “chronograph”. You should “clue them in”.

      Those “balls” would be called pearls; fitting for such a feminine watch.
      I think I may pick it p; just so I can sell it back to you in a year or two. with a copy of Dr. Daniel’s quotes on vintage.

      • I don’t know why it says it has an alarm or it a chronograph – it doesn’t. If you sell one to me, I would appreciate a discount cause you are such a sweet guy.

      • Dean Grant Baker

        they ARE indeed “badly designed” for this reason if no other; they do NOT stand up to time, the designs are dated, you, by your very own words, even compare aspects of them to the 1920’s.

        • Well Dean, if you feel that they are poorly designed because they look ‘dated’ then I guess we all have a good idea of your tastes. Thanks for the tip.

        • Dean Grant Baker

          And as evidence to support my opinion that the watch design is dated; the drastic price hit.

          •Retail Price: $17,400.00

          •Special Price: $6,975.00

          • kris.c

            That evidence basically throws every watch in the garbage Dean. Basically every watch ever depreciates in hard value rather quickly: even those in your collection, which we’d all like to see considering that no watch on Earth is apparently worthy of being worn by a boy of your calibre.

  • George

    The Gefica is so different than his other iconic designs, and like the big 4 still quite polarizing! But where the other designs possess strong lines, simplicity and symmetry, this is quite a change. I love the details and different levels of that dial.

  • Thanks for the heads up Ariel, wonderful article about a superb watch. I had the pleasure to try it on a few times in the watch store of a friend of mine, and it is really awesome. Although I am a fan of Genta’s earlier work, like the RO and Nautilus, I really love this Gefica watch. 7K USD is a steal for this watch, really.


    • My pleasure RJ – I of course appreciated that you wrote about the important collection in the first place 🙂

  • 5803822

    I now have one, at last, and  I’m pleased to assure you (Arial) it’s even better than your enthusiastic appraisal (which convinced me to get one !!!) – GG’s best effort in my book, although I do like the Bulgari Hunter version and I’d like it more if the GMT pusher was bronze..

  • 5803822 Glad you like it. This is a damn cool watch.

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