THE HOME OF WATCH CULTURE

The Gerald Charles Masterlink evolves the Maestro into a slimmer and sportier form (live pics) The Gerald Charles Masterlink evolves the Maestro into a slimmer and sportier form (live pics)

The Gerald Charles Masterlink evolves the Maestro into a slimmer and sportier form (live pics)

Zach Blass
  • The new Gerald Charles Masterlink builds upon Genta’s Maestro design with an integrated bracelet.
  • Slimmer than the Maestro, it offers a new-look, vertically striped dial.
  • The micro-rotor movement is manufactured by Vaucher, with the watch priced at US$23,000.

While watch enthusiasm is still a niche, even though the mainstream world has become increasingly familiar with the name Gérald Genta. The Gérald Genta brand has had a cult following which is only growing, but there is a third element that more people need to wake up to. When the designer’s eponymous brand was sold to Bulgari in 2000, Genta, still wishing to create watches for a brand of his own, began the Gerald Charles brand the same year (Charles being his middle name). Three years later, Genta would sell Gerald Charles, but he would stay on as its designer-in-chief until his passing in 2011. While Bulgari has the Octo, and Audemars Piguet the Royal Oak, the centrepiece design of Gerald Charles is the Maestro. The chic quirk of the Maestro is its asymmetrical case design, in which an octagonal form becomes almost shield-like with its curved “smiley” bottom. Gerald Charles’ current creative director, Octavio Garcia, has built upon the Maestro design to create a slimmer and sportier sequel – the Gerald Charles Masterlink.

gerald charles masterlink 6

There is a clear throughline between the Maestro and the Masterlink, but it is not just simply a Maestro affixed to a bracelet. The case has been slimmed down nearly a full millimetre – down from 8.7mm for the Maestro 2.0 to 7.9mm for the Masterlink. It also is slightly more compact. Gerald Charles explains: “While the Maestro is designed around a rectangle, the Masterlink is based on a square. Consequently, the proportions are therefore tighter, more contained.”

Maestro versus Masterlink Gerald Charles
A Maestro case compared to the Masterlink case

Excluding the lugs that slope down, which is fair considering the bracelet design creates a seamless transition between the case and bracelet, the Masterlink measures 38mm in diameter horizontally and vertically – this illustrates the more compact square. The Maestro 2.0, on the other hand, is 39mm in diameter and 41mm from top to bottom. As I mentioned before, while the Masterlink retains the asymmetrical shape and “smiley”, it does not have the double-stepped bezel and instead goes for a broader single step.

gerald charles masterlink 13

The Masterlink introduces a new dial texture for Gerald Charles, alongside a new hand, numeral, and index set. Available in both blue and silver,  the dial features a vertically striped pattern that is not simply stamped into the dial. As Gerald Charles explains: “The relief is actually composed of two separate levels which are then layered together.” With the removal of a date complication, which the Maestro line does include, you have an even more balanced dial which includes Arabic numerals at the cardinal points along with thin and long parallelogram-shaped indices. What they have also omitted from the dial, which I personally wish they would have left, is a central seconds hand. The hands and indices are all filled with SuperLuminova, however, for added visibility in darkness.

gerald charles masterlink 2

To be clear, the lug-to-lug length of the Masterlink is 44.92mm, but the ingenious merging of the case and bracelet due to the meticulously designed form-fitting end-links, makes it feel like you have a bracelet integrated into the square foundations of the case. The bracelet, like the case, is also asymmetrical in that the 6′ side of the links utilises a “smiley” shape. The broad polished centre links therefore gradually, like a taper, flatten as you work down to the clasp. This is, of course, meant to better integrate the bracelet into the curve of the case. The 12 o’clock side of the bracelet, however, remains flat to better merge with the case. “We have created, as only a few others have, a truly asymmetrical bracelet in haute horlogerie,” says Gerald Charles CEO Federico Ziviani. “The clasp is invisible, seamlessly integrated into the bracelet’s final links. Even the push-pieces to open it are discreetly nestled within, ensuring the design’s fluidity sweeps smoothly over the unified case and bracelet.”

gerald charles masterlink 8

Akin to the Maestro 2.0, the Masterlink has a movement designed in collaboration with Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier. The GCA 5401 micro-rotor calibre within, based on the VMF 5401, has been customised with a Gerald Charles-branded micro-rotor, a darkened treatment for the bridges and mainplate, along with triple-grooved screws bespoke-made for Gerald Charles used for the bridges. The calibre is nicely adorned with côtes de Genève, bevelling, and perlage, and it offers two days of power reserve.

gerald charles masterlink 7

So, I am not going to sit here and pretend Gerald Charles’ creations are an easy sell. This is not due to a lack of quality – lots of engineering and fine techniques go into realising a watch like this. The quirks and nuances of the design present engineering challenges the brand has the know-how to overcome. For example, to achieve its 100-metre depth rating, the bespoke sapphire crystal, which also has the “smiley” form, has to be pressure-resistant to 300 metres at each corner. Why it is theoretically a harder sell? At least in terms of the original Maestro, it’s due to its distinct design that does not pander to any particular trend. The Masterlink uncompromisingly maintains this nuance and quirk factor while extending an olive branch of familiarity with its integrated bracelet and sporty remix. For those who appreciate something well-made and different, the Masterlink is something I imagine will be sought out for closer inspection in the metal.

Gerald Charles Masterlink pricing and availability

gerald charles masterlink 12

The Gerald Charles Masterlink is available now for purchase. Price: US$23,000

Brand Gerald Charles
Model Masterlink
Case Dimensions 39mm (D) x 7.9mm (T) x 44.9mm (LTL)
Case Material Stainless steel
Water Resistance 100 metres, screw-down crown
Crystal(s) Sapphire front and back
Dial Blue or silver, vertical stripes, sunburst
Bracelet Integrated steel bracelet in three sizes, micro-adjustable folding clasp
Movement GCA 5401, Vaucher 5401 base, micro-rotor automatic
Power Reserve 48 hours
Functions Hours, minutes
Availability Now
Price US$23,000