Sotheby’s recently announced the Gérald Genta: Icon of Time sale series that includes 100 of Genta’s original drawings, including the designer’s work for The Royal Oak and The Nautilus. On the 50th anniversary of the Royal Oak and the 10th anniversary of Gérald Genta’s passing, the Genta archive of exceptional design is open for the first time. The sale will take place in early 2022, followed by the Auction of Gérald Genta’s unique Royal Oak watch and four original paintings in May 2022.

Gérald Genta
A design for a Head of State, Middle East, with a Gaugin painting on the dial. (Left) Grande Sonnerie World Time Repetition Montres Tourbillon Minutes (Right)

Each of the original watercolour paintings is paired with a unique NFT which will feature “an artistic digital replica of the design, a certificate of authenticity, and for select pieces, fascinating never-before-seen multimedia content.”


“For me, watches are the antithesis of liberty. I am an artist, a painter, I hate having to adhere to the constraints of time. It irritates me.”
Gérald Genta


For the uninitiated, Gérald Genta, popularly known as “the Picasso of watchmaking”, is one of the most celebrated and famous designers of the horological society. He was behind some of the world’s most sought-after watches like the Royal Oak for Audemars Piguet and the Nautilus for Patek Philippe. His visionary designs transformed the watch industry and are held in high regard even today.


He was also instrumental in bringing complicated wristwatches back into fashion. Evelyne Genta, Gérald’s wife and business partner, and the current owner of the portfolio of Genta designs, said: “First and foremost Gérald was an artist. Every morning, he would sit down at his desk in his suit to draw, full of ideas, and we would never know where the day, or his imagination, was going to take him. As a Swiss artist living in Geneva, he felt that he must apply his art to watchmaking, and that is exactly what he dedicated his life to.”

Evelyne Genta
Evelyne Genta, Gérald’s wife and business partner, and the current owner of the portfolio of Genta designs

Picasso of Watchmaking Goes Digital

One of the most exciting aspects of this sale series announcement is the involvement of NFTs or non-fungible tokens. Each painting paired with a Genta NFT allows buyers to own these one-of-a-kind designs in both digital and physical form. This broadens its reach to a new category of collectors and creates an irrefutable record of ownership and legitimacy.

“Gérald was always ahead of his time. It seemed only natural to continue his legacy of pushing boundaries in watchmaking, by reviving these revolutionary sketches with today’s most innovative artform: NFTs,” said Evelyne Genta.

Genta personal watch Royal
Genta’s personal Royal Oak, in yellow gold and stainless steel (Geneva sale, May 2022)

Through this process, Sotheby’s sets a precedent in ensuring an item’s value long after the sale. There is a big chance that the process will inevitably spread to other auction categories at the auction house.

Sebastian Fahey, Sotheby’s Managing Director for Europe and Executive Sponsor of Sotheby’s NFTs, said: This time last year, we could never have envisaged the radical impact NFTs would have on our world, let alone when Gérald Genta began producing these designs more than 50 years ago, but they very much share the same pioneering spirit, making their inclusion a natural step. Altogether, the sale presents a unique opportunity to acquire these important pieces of Gérald Genta’s legacy, not only in their traditional watercolour form but also in a way that speaks to the next generation of collectors, who are passionate about digital art and all the advantages NFTs have to offer.”

Here are the details of the auctions

Three dedicated “Gérald Genta: Icon of Time” auctions will be held in early 2022 across Sotheby’s global locations, presenting a survey of the greatest hits of the legendary designer’s career. Approximately 30 designs will be offered in each of the sales.

Gérald Genta: Icon of Time Sale, Geneva, February 10-24th, 2022

Features Genta’s original designs for the first luxury steel wristwatch Audemars Piguet’s The Royal Oak, including his never-seen-before, unreleased first design for the legendary timepiece.

Gérald Genta: Icon of Time Sale, Hong Kong, March 10-24th, 2022

Features Genta’s original design for Patek Philippe’s The Nautilus and three designs for the most complicated wristwatch in the world: The Grande Sonnerie, which comprises 1000 parts and took five years to develop.

Gérald Genta: Icon of Time Sale, New York, April13-27th, 2022

Includes his original designs for the most impressive and valuable Disney watches ever made

Important Watches, Sotheby’s Biannual Auction in Geneva, May 2022
Includes Genta’s unique Royal Oak, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of its release, and four oil paintings by Gérald Genta, paying tribute to the Nautilus and the Royal Oak.


A portion of the sale proceeds will go to the Gérald Genta Heritage Association. The group’s mission is to encourage and reward the next generation in the watch industry, notably with the first edition of the Gérald Genta Prize for Young Talent.

Image Courtesy: Sotheby’s