From excellently reissued vintage watches to iconic Monaco watches, the watch industry is full of groundbreaking designs, intricately made, and just aesthetically appealing. We get to enjoy and marvel at the ingenuity of the designs and we are drawn to know the inspiration behind each one that resonates with us. But who are the designers behind these timepieces we love? They seem to be left behind in the shadows, veiled with mystery.
In other industries, people behind the screen, the art, the song, are celebrated for their work. But isn’t it kind of weird how we only get to know the name behind the designs in the watch-making industry years after their design work is released and has become a massive hit? If you are curious, we listed down watch designers behind them and give you insight into why the watch industry seems to have them as wind behind their wings.
- Gerald Genta
We know every watch nerd already knows the name of Gerard Genta. The man who designed the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak in a day and the Patek Philippe Nautilus in 5 minutes as the story goes. But Gerald Genta’s career and his fame bought by his designs are the perfect examples for us to have the bigger picture of what it is like to create designs for watchmakers back then. People like young Gerald Genta were getting paid a few Swiss francs to design the watches.
And oftentimes, they were being paid by the case-making specialists, not the watch brands themselves in those days the freelance designer conducted the design work often for a case maker that was subcontracted by the actual watch brand and the brand was paramount. That’s why we hear about these designers after the fact that they made their designs because companies would like to focus buyer’s attention on the product and brand itself. Revealing the name of the designer would shift the attention of buyers and would overshadow the brand itself. That is why we hear designers’ names years after the timepieces have hit the market.
2. Ervin Piquez
The man in our list is somewhat in a blurry area. Ervin PIquez, head of Swiss case maker at that time is known for developing the Supercompressor watch. A watch design that has an internal bezel and uses water pressure to tighten the seal of the case, making it highly water-resistant. His work first came to life in the form of the iconic Monaco, Caliber 11 of Tag Heuer. As the story goes, he proposed the square case design to young Jack Heuer and Jack leaped at the idea of having an unconventional case shaped to take the form of his automatic chronograph. However, what is unclear is whether Ervin Piquez created the design itself. The square case of Monaco, the sports car racing colors, and symmetry of shapes, was it all his idea? Or was it a collective effort?
All resources would point out that he suggested the case, along with his newly patented case design- the super compressor. But he was never credited as the designer who made the design. And that leaves Monaco, an iconic timepiece whose design we all know and changed the history of watchmaking, but to seem to have sprung from the mind of an anonymous watch designer. Do we wonder how many watch designs are there whose designers were never credited for their work? There must be thousands, counting from the very early days of the art and craft of watchmaking.
3. Jorg Hysek
Another name in the watch design industry is that of Jorg Hysek. Jorge Hysek is a watch designer for his own company, located in a small village halfway between Geneva and Lausanne. His most famous work can be seen in his design with companies like Tag Heuer, Breguet, Tiffany, and Cartier, just to mention a few.
But amazingly, his name doesn’t get as much recognition as well. One of his designs is the Vacheron 222 which was even assumed to be designed by Gerald Genta. The watch has a strict and rather gear-like, industrial design with its bezel and bracelet. The dial had a straightforward and rugged face, with its simple stick indexes, two center hands, and a date window that celebrates the 1970’s. Today we know that a designer named Jorge Hysek did the design along with other watches like the Breguet Marine, AG Heuer Kirium, and Tiffany & Co. Streamerica
4. Emmanuel Gueit
Finally, we circle back to a designer whose work became known as his beastly creation- the Royal Oak Offshore from Audemar Piguet, Emmanuel Gueit. Less than two decades after Royal Oak’s release in 1970, the brand decided to renew the style and assigned Emmanuel Gueit, from the second generation of watch designers. The Royal of Genta leaned in a more classic, timeless appeal while the Offshore had to be modern. The style is sporty, robust, and had a louder look interpreted in the mega tapestries patterns design, and the bold presence is indicated by having a thicker case size.
Names of designers and information about their work, inspiration, and other relevant details are more available thanks to technology, giving designers more opportunity for credit. In modern times, discussions of timepieces are more prevalent. You can join communities and be involved in active discussions of how these designs came to be. Once names behind the designs are revealed, designers and artists have more exposure compared to before.
We love the design of our wristwatches. From Rolex, watches with skeletonized designs down to exquisitely made timepieces that speak tones of depth and artistry. But we barely know the designers in the fields. There is certainly a lot of history to uncover and be educated about the watch industry.
We are left to ask how many expert hands are anonymous for the timepieces we have today. It sure makes us more appreciative of the craftsmanship, artistry, and labor put into each wristwatch. It widens our perspective of things. If you like to see the marvel of wristwatches, visit Watch Shopping, where authentic timepieces will help you grow in appreciation of quality timepieces.