News September 2006

Arena Biretro Gold

A sports watch radiating sophisticated elegance

The Watch Quote™ - September 26th, 2006



Among all the revolutions that the Gérald Genta brand has brought to the world of contemporary Haute Horlogerie, one of the most striking is undoubtedly its ability to reinvent the reading of time.

Its watches feature a consistently different mode of time read-off and the resulting effect offers a blend of playfulness thanks to the intricate game of the hands and numerals enlivening the dial, along with the serious mechanical engineering of a complex horological mechanism. In 1996, the Gérald Genta brand was indeed the first to combine jumping hours and retrograde minutes on a wristwatch.

Why had this never been done before on a wristwatch? Simply because two major difficulties had to be overcome.

The first was the vulnerability of the jumping-hour system which, prior to the technical progress made possible by Gérald Genta watchmakers, was not particularly resistant to shocks and tended to jump all too easily. One should recall within this context that a wristwatch movement is by definition smaller than a pocket-watch and is thus more liable to be jarred due to constant arm movements. Existing techniques consequently made it a tough proposition to use this complication in a small format, until the Gérald Genta watchmakers came with innovative solutions.

The second difficulty lay in combining the numerical hour jump with an instant return of the hand on the analog minute display covering a 210° segment. The retrograde system, which was subject to considerable pressure when the balance-whip is released, constantly tended to be somewhat imprecise in moving back to the figure “0”, meaning either slightly before or after the exact position.


Three patents to guarantee reliability in a wristwatch movement

At the time, two patents were filed by Gérald Genta for this world première: the first was registered for a reliable, simple and effective jumping-hour security system comprising a mechanism preventing the hour disc from jumping inadvertently in case of shocks, combined with the capacity to move the minute forward or backward using the crown without damaging the system. Simultaneously, a second patent was filed for a mechanism combining the hour jump with the instant return of the minute hand to the “0” position at the exact moment of the hour change. This was made possible by the action of feeler-spindles and cams that are carefully calculated, positioned and adjusted.

Three years later, Gérald Genta presented the Biretro movement, combining jumping hours and retrograde minutes with a pointer-type retrograde date display. A third patent was duly filed for the latter mechanism, within which the hand, itself connected to the movement, moves one step per day over the sector and is instantly reinitialised after the 31st day.



The security systems linked to the Biretro system
and the jumping-hour mechanism

Before the “jumping” and “retrograde” display systems developed by Gérald Genta, anyone acquainted with these systems on pocket-watches would have imagined that the jumping-hour mechanism would seize up or that the one driving the retrograde minutes would break if the crown were to be turned forward or backward at just any time one so wished. It is indeed a generally accepted fact that it is preferable not to operate display devices, especially in reverse, when the display is about to change.

Thanks to the specific security systems developed by Gérald Genta for the Retro and Biretro movements, the jumping hour is designed in such a way that it cannot be turned backward, while attempting to do so cannot damage the mechanism. However, such a manoeuvre is possible for the retrograde minutes and will not in any way impair its running.

It has been over ten years now that the Gérald Genta brand has been refining, developing, enhancing the reliability and successfully marketing this original combination of complications indicating the hour with a so-called “incremental” display, with a “reinitialisation” type minute indication. It is to date the only contemporary Haute Horlogerie brand to have earned genuine legitimacy in this type of mechanism through the experience acquired on the markets.

Since the launch of its first models featuring this type of display, the aesthetic lines have never betrayed the playful spirit, the sporting demeanour and the contemporary aesthetics inherent to the House style. Today, the launch of the Arena Biretro Gold represents a further step towards confirming the status of Gérald Genta as a Manufacture producing exceptional timepieces, consistently endowed with mechanical complications, even for its “simplest” models. The common denominators of its collections are refined elegance, sporting aesthetics and technically sophisticated mechanisms.


The Arena Biretro Gold

The self-winding Manufacture-made movement with bi-directional winding, which constitutes the driving force behind this model, is enriched with the jumping hour, retrograde minutes and date complications model entirely developed, crafted and assembled in the workshops of the Manufacture Gérald Genta in Le Sentier, Vallée de Joux. In keeping with its resolutely Haute Horlogerie philosophy, this calibre is entirely decorated with concentric stippling created on a Potter finishing. The 18-carat gold oscillating weight is also stippled over its surface and engraved with the “Gérald Genta” inscription.

The imposing exterior of this complicated timepiece asserts its visual strength and enhances the personality of the person wearing it. Clothed in a white gold case topped by a tantalum bezel, the sporty, sophisticated Arena Biretro evokes a world of refined elegance and contemporary lines.

Echoing the metal alloys of the case, the dial is composed of several cleverly interwoven levels. The tantalum coloured base, delicately satin-brushed to create a circular effect, is graced with white gold coloured polished and applied minute numerals. A quarter-circle brushed sapphire green-tinted segment positioned between 9 and 12 o’clock enables the charcoal grey superluminova numerals to build up a maximum of luminosity by the time they move past the hour aperture at 12 o’clock. The lower part of the dial, delicately adorned with a white gold coloured sunray guilloché motif, visually reinforces the retrograde date display located at 6 o’clock, over a 180° segment graduated from 1 to 31. The dial is rimmed by a slopping flange in the same colour as the tantalum bezel, giving added depth to the overall effect.

The precious and sporting appeal of the dial is strongly accentuated by the case with fluted middle characteristic of the Arena line, crafted in polished 18-carat white gold and adorned with a brushed tantalum bezel. A brushed white gold crown guard highlights the crown enriched with a double row of polished fluting.

Able to withstand pressures of 10 atm, the Arena Biretro Gold is flitted with an exclusive hand-sewn black alligator leather strap, complete with a polished white gold folding clasp featuring finely stippled blades and a buckle carrying the brand’s G symbol.

Less than 100 of these exceptionnal watches will be produced each year, thereby guaranteeing its exclusive character clearly destined for enlightened connoisseurs.

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Gérald Genta Arena Biretro Gold


  • Exclusive Gérald Genta self-winding movement, entirely hand-decorated, "Potter" finishing, equipped with jumping hours through an aperture at 12 o'clock, a 210° retrograde minutes segment in the upper part of the dial between 8 and 4 o'clock, and a 180° degree retrograde date segment on the lower part of the dial between 4 and 8 o'clock.

  • 45-hour power reserve. polished white go Id case with fluted middle, brushed white go Id crown guard and circular satin-brushed tantalum bezel.

  • Multi-Iayer tantalum coloured metallic dial with circular satinbrushed finish, polished applied minute numerals, retrograde date segment enhanced with a sunray guilloché motif.

  • The dial is protected by a sapphire crystal, glareproofed both sides. polished crown with double fluted pattern, open case-back fitted with sapphire crystal glareproofed on the inside and secured with 8 pentagonal screws.

  • Exclusive Gérald Genta hand-sewn alligator leather strap with stippled folding clasp enhanced with the brand logo and symbol.

  • Water-resistant to 10 Atm.

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