This new marvel of a watch comes completely unexpected from Gerald Genta, an avant-garde Swiss watchmaker. While the concept of a sonnerie (chiming) watch isn’t new, Gerald Genta endows its new Arena Metasonic timepiece with a host of improvements that aren’t as much about giving the watch new features as about improving those that sonnerie watch-lovers have been fascinated with for generations and making the Arena Metasonic the most complex watch in its class.
Traditionally, grande sonnerie watches have been hailed as some of the most complex in the world, with many different functions belonging to the genre. The Arena Metasonic incorporates almost all of them, and does so in a new type of package that is the logical modern extension of this type of watch’s evolution. A good illustration is the box–a device that greets owners with a biometric fingerprint scan, required to open the secure container. A valid scan and subsequent access result in electronic wizardry opening the box, while a mechanical pedestal surrounded by glowing light raises the watch out of its resting place. Gimmicky? Maybe, but all part of the wow-factor a timepiece such as this is meant to inspire.
The watch itself is clearly Gerald Genta in design, but in an almost dark sense. Typical colorful tones favored by the brand are replaced by organic-looking machinery in a package that would likely be approved by Tim Burton. The watch face sits to the right, while the exposed dial reveals the movement’s tourbillion escapement (top left), and three hammers for the musical gong sit to the lower left. On the back, the mystique of the movement is clear with a dizzying array of mechanical components clearly visible. There you’ll find power-reserve indicators for both the watch and sonnerie functions.
Knobs, crowns, and levers control a series of impossible-to-combine functions, such as minute repeaters (which repeat the time back to you in an audio code form); minute and hour strikers (chiming at specific intervals), for which the Arena Metasonic has different tones for each quarter-hour; a silence mode; and grande and petite sonnerie functions (a form of volume control).
It is all housed in a 46mm-wide case done in titanium, a white-gold alloy, steel, bronze, and the proprietary alloy Magsonic, which Gerald Genta specially developed to help intensify the sound coming from the (remarkably) water-resistant case. Years went into the watch’s development, using specially developed software, ensuring that it not only sounds just right, but that no other grande sonnerie watch can best it. Each timepiece takes about a year to make, and there will only be 10 of them, ever. All of this helps explain the Gerald Genta Arena Metasonic’s price of $900,000.