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Tribute to Gérald Genta
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Tribute to Gérald Genta

Thursday, 01 September 2011
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Franco Cologni
President of the FHH Cultural Council

“Talent demands effort, dedication and hours spent perfecting a gesture which, day by day, becomes a gift.”

An entrepreneur at heart, though a man of letters, Franco Cologni was quick to embark on a business career that would lead him to key roles within the Richemont Group.

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Returning from my mountaintops, where the only news to reach our ears concerns the temperature, the snow and the state of the rock, I learned, with sadness, something I would rather not have heard: Gérald Genta is no longer with us.

Many others will, of course, already have saluted his memory. I myself would like to look back upon some personal memories, attempt to evaluate his work, and reflect on the importance of the legacy which his life can and must propose.

  1. We would meet on occasion and, when we did, rarely in a business context. Ours were always amicable encounters. The one time in the year we were sure to find each other was at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie, in Geneva. These past few years, after the inevitable mutual compliments as to how well we were looking for our (biological) age, he would confide his secret ambition in me: to “invent” a new Panerai. This was a bold and perilous challenge yet, exactly because of that, a stimulating one for such an exceptional inventor as he, who would happily have measured himself by the yardstick of what he considered a contemporary icon. But as Calderón wrote, dreams are only dreams and, sadly, this one would remain just that.
  2. During our forty years in Fine Watchmaking, throughout which we remained distinct but never distant, it was given to me to understand that Gérald Genta must be considered a “creative signature” who would, without any shadow of a doubt, go down in history: original, innovative, an authentic auteur whose star is one of the brightest in the Fine Watch firmament.
  3. Gérald Genta’s legacy, in his life as in his work, sets a vital example for all those who go the extra mile and intend following a creative path in watchmaking. Young people above all. Because this brilliant man selflessly observed the designer’s golden rule: to be one with the work of the master watchmaker in an informed, interested and respectful way. This work was his opportunity to demonstrate, with brio, an exceptional creativity which he transformed into a living, tangible reality; into a product that will always speak his name.
Gérald Genta was a witness to our times.

In his Confessions, Saint Augustine reminds us that time is consubstantial with the soul because it is an inner dimension. A dimension where now lives the memory of this master, a creator of instruments that measured not just time but also style, innovation and imagination.

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