When you hear the name Genta a certain and very specific style comes to mind. The Royal Oak, the Nautilus, the Ingenieur, all greats of watch design and all with that very specific industrial flavour the designer’s name has become synonymous with. Which is why there are a couple of reasons you might not at first link them to Gerald Charles. Firstly is the name of course, as when Genta founded Gerald Charles in 2000 he wasn’t allowed to use his second name. Secondly, because the Maestro silhouette that has come to define the brand with watches like the recent Gerald Charles Maestro 9.0 Tourbillon and GC Sport Clay, isn’t what we’ve come to expect. There’s not an octagon or a screw in sight!
Every current Gerald Charles timepiece has the same case shape, with incredibly minor variations. That shape involves a two-tiered bezel, a faceted, rectangular case shape with a more rounded six o’clock end and an overall look that’s more art deco than sports luxe. It’s definitely not without its charms but I always considered it a pretty niche look, unique and deeply specific. Yet apparently that shape and style are deceptively versatile because not only does the Gerald Charles Maestro GC Sport Clay have a cool new dial, it’s a bona fide sports watch.
That might sound strange for a watch still sharing that tiered case construction, but just look at the dial, named for and inspired by clay courts. It’s not just inspired by either; it’s been (apparently) tested by ATP players to put it through its paces.
Now, I’m well aware that very few people are ever going to wear their watch playing. Forget the potential damage to the piece, it’s just not comfortable and even a svelte timepiece can get in the way or catch on things. At least in this instance, Gerald Charles have tried to minimise those problems, both by setting it on a comfortable rubber strap and by swinging the crown round to nine o’clock to give your wrist that extra freedom of movement. It’s also very light thanks to its titanium case, weighing in at just 65 grams.
This is one of the few instances where I’m completely on board with titanium. For general wear, I find the metal makes watches feel like toys without the sort of heft that I like. I know there are plenty of collectors out there that love it, but I always prefer steel. Except for here. Not only does it make sense conceptually, but it looks cool too, with a grey sheen that makes these feel a lot more modern, more in keeping with my pre-set notion of a Genta watch.
So, there’s enough here to make you want to give it a go on the court? Mechanically, it seems like it’s up to the task, too. The movement inside is the Ref. GCA 3002, a joint effort with Fleurier’s Vaucher movement maker, combining ultra-thin construction with an Incabloc anti-shock system to survive solid impacts. The rotor’s also been given an overhaul to stop it over winding while you’re jumping around trying to return. It’s not Richard Mille levels of shock resistance, but then neither is a tank and you don’t really need either to make sure that a quick game of tennis doesn’t ruin your timepiece.
Aesthetically, other than the more modern nods in the grey of the titanium and the gorgeous textured brown fume of the clay dial, the rest of the watch is pure Maestro. Whether you like that or not is down to your particular taste; there’s not a lot else to compare it to. It is undeniably well- constructed though and as the GC Sport shows, has a lot more to it than you might expect.
This particular version is actually one of three tennis- inspired watches in Gerald Charles’ collection, the others being the Grass it’s paired with and the previous GC Sport in blue, which with its sunburst dial is much more classical. Given there’s so much green and blue around these days, I prefer the Clay, but the equally textured green has its charms.
Either way, those charms have their cost. All three of the Maestro GC Sport watches have a price tag of £15,600, a substantial sum for a sports watch. But then, these aren’t just your average beaters, but immaculately finished, uniquely designed watches that just so happen to have been rendered sports appropriate. And honestly, I’ve come to really enjoy it. It wouldn’t be my first choice Gerald Charles (that would be their superlative skeleton) but it’s like nothing else out there, and that’s something I can always get on board with.
Price & Specs:
- Model: Gerald Charles Maestro GC Sport Clay
- Ref: GC2.0-TX-TN-08
- Case/dial: 39mm x 41.7mm, titanium case, textured dial
- Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
- Movement: Gerald Charles calibre GCA3002, automatic, 28 jewels, 189 parts
- Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)
- Power reserve: 50h
- Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date
- Strap: Vulcanised rubber
- Price/availability: £15,600, limited to 150 pieces