Omega Gets Styled by Designer Gilbert Albert

Most of the time you have no idea who designed your watch. And yet, the first thing that attracts you to a timepiece is its aesthetic. Almost 100% of the time if you don’t like how a watch looks you won’t consider buying it, even if the mechanics are special.

Watch enthusiasts do know the name Gerald Genta. He was the first designer to come to the fore with his popular and now iconic designs. He virtually saved the floundering Audemars Piguet with the progressive Royal Oak, which was released in 1972 and was the first ever luxury sport watch in steel that cost more than some gold watches. In fact, the majority of Audemars Piguet’s sales are still driven by this family of watches and its sportier relative, the Royal Oak Offshore. Genta really had the hot hand created icons responsible for the Universal Geneve Polerouter, Patek Philippe Nautilus and IWC Ingenieur.

Though Genta takes most of the spotlight, there is another noteworthy designer working within the same time period and his designs were unusual and still considered cutting edge. Starting in 1955 Gilbert Albert at the tender age or 24 headed up Patek Philippe’s workshop for seven years, responsible for the Ricochet series, among others. Influenced by modern art and sculpture, he was attracted to the less conventional triangular and rhomboid shapes.

Omega also recognized Albert’s talent and brought him on board to add his signature to their timepieces. The Moldavita designed for the New York World’s Fair in 1964 now resides in Omega’s museum. A progressive jewelry piece, the Moldavita combined artistry with technicity. A large 7.5 gram moldavite, glass formed by the impact of a meteor, is set on a pendant watch consisting of 18K yellow gold and platinum powered by Omega’s smallest and most accurate ladies’ automatic movement at the time. Under bright light, the moldavite turns bright green, giving it an otherworldly glow.

Not all of Albert’s designs are out of reach in museums or price range. In fact, in Christie’s upcoming sale there are two great Omega pieces available.

Manufactured in 1972 the Arabesque D’Or features a mother-of-pearl dial and open worked textured bracelet in 18K gold. Estimate: $5,000-7,000. See the lot here.

Secret watches are a favorite of mine and this one is particularly elegant. Though manufactured in 1966, the Maille D’Or is very stylish today. It also has an open worked textured gold dial bracelet and hinge that blends seamlessly without a hint of the ticker within. Estimate: $6,000-8,000. See the lot here.

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excerpt courtesy of Christie’s LONGITUDE blog for collecting watches
by Meehna Goldsmith