INTRODUCING: Bvlgari’s Gerald Genta Mickey Mouse Watch
The only throwback-inspired watch you need this year.
For those of you who are old enough to remember, one of the most stunning modern watch industry mergers took place in the early 2000s, when the Bvlgari Group acquired two esteemed niche brands, Daniel Roth and Gerald Genta. Fans of both brands were left wondering if Bvlgari, an Italian company with roots in high jewellery, could do the watch marques justice and how their legacies would be continued.
Founded respectively by a master watchmaker and watch designer, arguably among two of the most respected figures in contemporary watchmaking, the eponymously named Daniel Roth and Gerald Genta had, prior to the acquisitions, already established their own followings, each with iconic timepieces that are celebrated by aficionados.
Collectors soon had their answer. In the years that followed, Bvlgari co-opted both brands’ aesthetic and technical signatures as its own and navigated their development with remarkable results. Besides previously rolling out co-signed creations that bear the Bvlgari-Daniel Roth and Bvlgari-Gerald Genta names, Bvlgari’s recent highly rated complications from chiming watches to retrograde displays surely must have had their seeds sown after the momentous acquisition.
So, fair play to Bvlgari for not just harnessing the horological riches of both brands, but also celebrating them, too, with new releases. The Gerald Genta association, especially, enjoyed its time in the spotlight in 2019, when Bvlgari commemorated the brand’s 50th anniversary with a limited edition rendition of the Arena Bi-retro, a remake of Gerald Genta’s famous jumping hour watch with retrograde minutes in platinum. Perhaps encouraged by the reception to the watch, along with other Genta-named limited editions, it is reported that Bvlgari has decided to revive Gerald Genta as a standalone brand under the Italian company's auspices. What better way to mark the occasion than with a true Gerald Genta classic – the Arena Retrograde ‘Mickey Mouse’, possibly one of Genta’s most whimsical and beloved creations under his own name.
The late legendary designer, who was also behind creations like the Royal Oak and Nautilus, first introduced his series of Disney cartoon characters-inspired mechanical watches in 1984. But it was in the 1990s, when Genta placed Mickey Mouse on his ‘Retro Fantasy’ series of jumping hour watches, showing the character on the dial with its arm serving as the retrograde minute hand, that the pop-horology crossover really took off. Genta’s Mickey Mouse watches were, indeed, the stuff of legend, demonstrating his playful design sensibility and knack for disarming stuffy technical watch connoisseurs in one fell swoop.
It is remarkable how, decades later with the new version of the Gerald Genta Mickey Mouse, the concept has lost none of its appeal. There are a lot of Mickey Mouse-themed watches on the market, from artsy Swatches to digitally rendered skins on Apple Watches. The Gerald Genta Mickey Mouse version with retrograde hand is an icon in its own right, a winsome combination of childlike capriciousness and technical complication unlike any other.
Bvlgari’s Arena Retrograde ‘Mickey Mouse’ depicts the character this time in mid-celebration, eyes closed and beaming, while its retrograde hand traverses the top arc of the dial to indicate the minutes. The jumping hour window is positioned at four o’clock at the end of the minute display. Encased in polished titanium and paired with a striking red strap, no less, Mickey’s animated gloved hand and classic red-and-yellow outfit is a jolt of joy on the wrist.
Limited to 150 pieces, the Arena Retrograde ‘Mickey Mouse’ is, surely, a collectible to snare for moneyed Mickey Mouse and Genta fans. But as much as the watch’s exclusivity and US$17,500 price tag means it will be out of reach for most, this throwback-inspired creation is a great reminder that high-end watchmaking can – and should – be fun.
End of content
No more pages to load