With Sotheby’s Gérald Genta: Icon of Time, watch lovers gained an opportunity to get their hands on the original handpainted illustration of watches that we wished made it to our wrists. The series of sales featuring the artwork of the Picasso of watchmaking first took place in Switzerland, Hong Kong, and New York and online featuring 100 original drawings. The genius Genta made more than 100,000 drawings in his career. He used super-fine pencils and paintbrushes in his oil and watercolor painting of his watch designs, making one every day. Unfortunately, most of these were lost or destroyed, but 100 special ones made it to the auction block.
The Hong Kong auction presented 34 drawings and watercolors. The auction’s highlight was an original 1976 design of the Patek Philippe Nautilus that sold for $727,000. The stunning artwork of this iconic luxury watch comes with an equally exciting backstory. The Patek Philippe Nautilus watch was initiated as a quick sketch on a paper napkin at a bar in Basel. On spotting the CEO of Patek Philippe, Philippe Stern, Genta started doodling. Coincidentally, a little later, the company asked him to design a stainless-steel watch, and the Patek Phillipe Nautilus was born.
The Hong Kong auction also witnessed the sale of a never-before-seen alternate Nautilus design, where a more uncomplicated strap replaces the bracelet. That drawing went under the hammer for a cool $121,000. Genta’s Royal Oak will be auctioned in May in New York before the Gérald Genta: Icon of Time series concludes in June.