It’s a tale worth telling over and over again. On the eve of Basel Fair 1971, an expectant, Georges Golay, managing director of Audemars Piguet at the time, put through a phone call to a certain Gérald Genta, exclaiming that he needed to show his Italian retailers “an unprecedented steel watch” on his first day at the fair.
Golay’s brief to Genta was so simple and so innately progressive that it’s difficult not to hit yourself and wonder — huh, now why didn’t I think of that?!
Golay described that what he desired was a watch that would be considered stylish, by the style savvy Italians. But it shouldn’t be a watch that is stylish with classical sensibility. Rather it should be a watch that embodies modernity and robust versatility which, therefore, would allow the timepiece to seamlessly transit from the most formal of affairs to the coolest and most epic of poolside parties.
Needless to say, time was not something that Genta had a lot of, to fulfil this brief. But just in that moment he had visions of his childhood run through his mind, where he’s standing on the Pont de la Machine in Geneva, watching a diver have his diving helmet put over his head.
In his mind’s eye, he saw the eight nuts that held the helmet’s visor in place and an initial concept started to form in his head. He began drawing out what he was envisioning and what was finally on paper was nothing short of revolutionary.