Genus Family Comes First!
An unusual brand, with an unusual story
Genus is an entire ecosystem of some of the major figures in the watch industry, who wrote the first chapters of an unprecedented adventure. It’s a portrait gallery of the people who fly the flag for independent Haute Horlogerie.
What do Danny Goldsmith, Abdul Hamied Seddiqi, Felix Baumgartner and Svend Andersen have in common? They are all leading actors on the watchmaking stage. And not just any kind of watchmaking. Felix Baumgartner and Svend Andersen are creators. They are also watchmakers and, like Sébastien Billières, cofounder of Genus, they are fiercely protective of their independence.
Felix Baumgartner is co-founder of Urwerk and a member of the AHCI, the Academy of Independent Creators in Watchmaking, which was co-founded almost 40 years ago by one… Svend Andersen!
Together, they create magical mechanics that push the limits of contemporary horology and appeal to the kind of forward-thinking collectors who frequent the premises owned by… Danny Goldsmith and Abdul Hamied Seddiqi! This is how a rich pool of experts – all driven by the same passion for creativity and independence – coalesced around Genus.
“Genus is incredible”
“I love independent watchmakers, I’m obsessed,” enthuses Danny Goldsmith, now a resident of Florida, where he recently opened his own store, unequivocally named Goldsmith & Complications. “Genus is incredible. It’s a fusion of tradition, heritage, ancestral techniques and modern materials. Technical challenges and craftsmanship raised to the level of art. It really is high-end watchmaking specifically in the haute horlogerie tradition. You won’t find watches like these anywhere else.”
Danny Goldsmith © Genus
Where do these watches come from? From the fertile imagination of a watchmaker called Sébastien Billières – a free spirit who specialises in automata, an affinity that led him to the foremost specialist in the discipline, Svend Andersen.
“Svend Andersen was my mentor”
Sébastien Billières first met Svend Andersen in 2007. “I started out as both an independent, and working with Svend, simultaneously,” Billières recalls. “He trained me up with several automata. I learned a lot at watchmaking school, but Svend teaches resourcefulness!” he says with a smile. “He’s a guide who leads you to creativity. He would always tell me, ‘You have to switch your brain on,’ learn how to think. That’s how you become independent. Svend gave me the confidence to be brave.” This approach immediately appealed to Sébastien Billières, as Svend Andersen confirms: “Sébastien immediately stepped outside the box. He thought up clever ways of working, using fewer tools. I was a bit provocative at times but that stimulated him.” Sébastien Billières recognises that influence today: “Svend Andersen was my mentor.”
Sven Andersen and Sébastien Billières © Genus
Before joining Svend Andersen’s workshop, Sébastien Billières spent some time with Urwerk, where he was their first watchmaker. Together, they co-created Harry Winston’s Opus 5. Felix Baumgartner remembers those times. “Genus is the newborn in the family of independents (laughs)! I’m delighted that the team is following in my footsteps. When you’re a small team, like we are at Genus, mentors and friends are very important. When you’re independent the first few years are challenging. We don’t talk about competition, because there’s room for everyone. Creativity and innovation are infinite. It’s the opposite, in fact: there is solidarity between independents.”
Sébastien Billières and Felix Baumgartner © Genus
It's tempting to draw parallels between Urwerk and Genus. Felix Baumgartner doesn’t deny it. “Genus is haute horlogerie, new ways of telling time, personality, sincerity, a desire to do things differently, passion and madness… Essentially, it’s the same love for good workmanship, rigour, and a way of thinking outside the box.” Not so very different from Urwerk.
For whom, and for what?
It’s this community spirit that won over some of the most prestigious retailers. As Abdul Hamied Seddiqi explains: “We see many clients who are developing their knowledge and who use platforms like the Dubai Watch Week to immerse themselves in haute horlogerie and everything it has to offer. We welcome clients who appreciate art, collectible items and craftsmanship, not just watches. They are delighted when they discover a brand like Genus. In recent years, we’ve seen younger and newer collectors, who are vital if we are to go beyond the norm, and explore what the industry has to offer.”
Abdul Hamied Seddiqi © Genus
A long road
Of course, for a young independent brand, history is important not in terms of the past, but in terms of the legacy it will leave. “Given our industry’s agility and capacity to adapt, as well as that of watch lovers, brands must remain in touch with the evolving landscape, and stay faithful to their philosophy, while at the same time expanding their target demographic. Many people still don’t know about Genus. Their pieces, with their incomparable designs, need to be introduced through personal contact. I look forward to welcoming them once again to Dubai,” Abdul Hamied Seddiqi continues. It will be an important meeting because, as Felix Baumgartner concludes, “the pressure is enormous. Suppliers are saturated with orders and a colossal amount of cash is being invested.”
Abdul Hamied Seddiqi and Catherine Henry © Genus
GENUS, a singularity of time. Pushing back the limits of watch display, the brand has established its own watchmaking ethos. It resides upon on the experience of its Master Watchmaker, author of an unheard-of complication and its Manufacture movement, crafted of solid gold and enhanced by state-of-the-art Haute Horlogerie hand-finishings.Find out more >
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