Owned by LVMH and produced by Louis Vuitton’s La Fabrique du Temps manufacture in Geneva, the Gerald Genta brand is now back. This one-of-a-kind Disney Mickey Mouse minute repeater timepiece is the very first “new” Gerald Genta timepiece and a very cool luxury object that I did not think I would get a chance to handle myself. This particular watch was produced exclusively to be sold via the Only Watch 2023 auction that was meant to take place in November 2023. The Only Watch 2023 event was postponed, possibly indefinitely, and accordingly, this and other unique watches made for the event exist in limbo. When we met with Louis Vuitton at Dubai Watch Week 2023 (the debut year of Louis Vuitton exhibiting at that show), it and other brands that participated in Only Watch 2023 had their unique watches there (which were returned to the brands when it was clear the auction would not proceed). I could not resist the chance to spend some time with this piéce unique Mickey Mouse watch given that I’ll probably never see it again.

There is a rich backstory to the Gerald Genta Only Watch 2023 Disney 100th Anniversary Mickey Mouse Minute Repeater watch that I discuss in more detail here. In this article, I not only explain the design of this Gerald Genta minute repeater timepiece, but I also discuss the brand’s relationship with Disney and how Genta himself was the first to put Disney characters on luxury timepieces. More so, even though Genta, the “maestro,” passed away more than a decade ago), his “revived” brand is more or less being run by two people who built watches with him when he was still alive. Those people are Enrico Barbasini and Michel Navas, who run La Fabrique du Temps. With their guidance and under the aegis of LVMH’s limitless resources, the Gerald Genta brand of today will only be limited by imagination and drive, not opportunity or market enthusiasm.

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Even though this particular watch dial is unique, the case will appear again in future Gerald Genta watches. That includes other minute repeaters that feature this same movement, but also other models. Funny enough, even though this is an eight-sided case, Gerald Genta doesn’t want to call it an Octo. That name is used by Bulgari (also part of LVMH), and it would probably be confusing to also call this the Octo. With that said, as far as I can tell, Gerald Genta has yet to give this eight-sided case shape a name. The case is very comfortable and actually more modest in size on the wrist than I would have guessed for a minute repeater. The octagonal white gold case with alternating polished and satin-brushed surfaces is 40mm wide and 11mm thick with 50 meters of water resistance.

The minute repeater also doesn’t use a traditional sliding lever to activate it but rather a more secure and compact push-button activator. This gives the case “ears,” as it appears to have double crowns, and given the fact that there is literally a smiling character on the dial, my mind goes to Konstantin Chaykin’s Wristmon watches when I see this Gerald Genta case with opposing crown structures. The crown has a ruby cabochon, while the minute repeater presser does not. Even though only one person will have this 100th Anniversary of Disney Gerald Genta watch, I think other people with Gerald Genta products that feature this case design will be happy.

Inside the watch is the in-house La Fabrique du Temps Gerald Genta GG-001 manually wound movement. This is a compact minute repeater system with a two-gong chiming mechanism. The movement operates at 3Hz with about 80 hours of power reserve. Time is indicated in traditional Gerald Genta fashion with a retrograde minute indicator hand as well as a jumping hours window. This dial layout system has lent itself to fanciful dials that repurpose the minute hand and turn it into a character’s hand. In the 1990s, Gerald Genta may have been the first person to have moving Mickey Mouse arms on a dial that doesn’t rely on the traditional central hours and minutes layout. Instead, there was a single hand that moved up and down, which led to more natural-looking animations for the characters. Classic Gerald Genta watches didn’t just feature Mickey Mouse, but other Disney cartoon characters including Donald Duck, Goofy, and Minnie Mouse. Read the article above to learn how Gerald Genta even developed a relationship with Disney in the first place.

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If not for that historic relationship with Disney, there is little chance (despite the power of LVMH) that this Gerald Genta Only Watch 2023 collaboration would have happened. The watch even features original artwork that features Mickey Mouse holding a birthday cake. The watch is meant to celebrate not the 100th anniversary of Mickey Mouse (which is coming soon) but rather that of the Walt Disney Company, which was founded in 1923. Gerald Genta also needed to throw in the fact that 2023 was the 50th anniversary of the first year that Gerald Genta himself put his name on a wristwatch in 1973.

This next detail is something I mentioned in my previous news article about the Gerald Genta Only Watch 2023 Mickey Mouse minute repeater, but I want to again call attention to the particular Gerald Genta logo used on the enamel face. This is neither the original Gerald Genta logo nor is it Gerald Genta’s signature. Rather, it is the Gerald Genta name written in Pablo Picasso’s style of handwriting. This is a sort of Easter egg to Mr. Genta’s legacy because he aimed to be the “Picasso of watch design.” Genta referred to some of the things Picasso was known for (aside from fame and talent), one of which was being able to master a variety of techniques and styles. Gerald Genta was prolific with the types of watches he designed over his career. However, it would be hard to compete with the sheer variety of styles and mediums used by an artist like Picasso. Also like Picasso, Genta took pride in being able to channel his years of experience and come up with quality designs very quickly. Gerald Genta was always sketching new watch cases and faces all the time and was inspired by how Picasso was able to seemingly create some of his greatest work in just a few broad strokes.

I really do hope we see more enamel work of cartoons on watch dials. La Fabrique du Temps’ in-house enameling expert Nicolas Doublel created the dial for this Only Watch 2023 piece. You can see how enamel colors and textures are nearly identical to those of cartoon animation cells. As such art becomes increasingly “classy,” I fully expect to see a merger of this traditional hand-painted dial technique with more modern forms of animation art that have yet to be fully integrated into the world of luxury timepiece design.

There is no price associated with this Gerald Genta Only Watch 2023 Disney 100th Anniversary Mickey Mouse Retrograde Jumping Hour Minute Repeater watch to mention. At some point, someone will purchase it, but I can’t predict the price. That sale will also represent an emotional price versus a market or retail price. It will not be until Gerald Genta releases other new Minute Repeater watches with this same 18k white gold that we will have some measure of what other pieces like this from Gerald Genta will cost. There is still plenty of mystery surrounding the product plans for the relaunched Gerald Genta brand, but we will know more in the first half of 2024. Learn more at the Gerald Genta website.

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