The Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) awards have always been referred to as the “Oscars” of watchmaking. It’s a fair comparison and a much-anticipated event on the watchmaking calendar. The awards, which are now in their eighteenth edition, are not only a great way to help promote the artform that is quality watchmaking, but it is a fantastic platform for up and coming brands to gain more recognition.
The acknowledgement, and to a certain point judgement of the craft, is the best way to ensure that the craft is preserved and its practitioners continue to innovate. The GPHG has twelve categories, with a maximum of six watches allocated in each. The judging panel is made up of various experts, journalists, and collectors who assess the nominees with the Aiguille d’Or Grand Prix (the Golden Hand trophy) being the most sought after.
Chopard won last year’s Aiguille d’Or Grand Prix with their L.U.C. Full Strike. The brand’s first ever minute repeater was up against tough competition from the likes of the Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600 and the A. Lange & Söhne Tourbograph Perpetual “Pour le Mérite.”
The Challenge Category
Interestingly, a new category has been added to the awards this year, known as the Challenge category. This category focuses on pieces that retail for less than CHF 4,000, hence the challenge being to make an exceptional timepiece despite the rather modest price cap. An interesting decision that will help shine a light on both lesser known brands and more accessibly priced watches from established brands. Tudor’s Black Bay GMT is a fantastic example of a watch with truly impressive specs, and the fact that it costs under CHF 4000 is an added benefit.
Other watches in the Challenge Category include Longines Conquest V.H.P. GMT flash setting, Gorilla Watches Fastback Drift, Nomos Glashütte Tangente neomatik 41 Update, Reservoir Longbridge British Racing, Seiko Presage Shippo Enamel.
The Inclusion of Tech
Some may argue that smartwatches have no place in an awards panel that focuses on the craft of watchmaking, others may say the GPHG needs to evolve with the times. Either way, smartwatches were in this year, entered across a range of categories. The kicker, however, is that none of the smartwatch models made it through to the finalists, but this could be considered the first sign of change and next year may well be a different story next year. I say this due to the likes of the Longines Conquest V.H.P. GMT Flash Setting, one of this year’s nominees. Along with the standard manual setting of the watch, the smart ‘Flash Setting’ allows you to set the watch with flash pulses from a smartphone. The Conquest has a 43-mm diameter face which has a second-time zone on the dial. It is a beautiful, sporty yet classy model that stands alone as an exceptional piece of craftsmanship, technological tweaks aside.
This signals a significant step in the world of smartwatches and collectors can still experience quality precision watchmaking with the benefits of different user experience. The fact that smartwatches are no longer a lifeless black screen on the wrist changes the game, something the GPHG is ready for.
Categories include Men’s Watch, Ladies’ Watch, Sports Watch, and Artistic Crafts to name a few. Along with the Aiguille d’Or, there are prizes including the Revival Prize, the Audacity prize, the Innovation Prize, and the Special Jury Prize, which focuses specifically on high-quality watchmaking. The country of origin is not a factor of whether or not a watch is eligible for the competition; it’s mainly just the commercial production or distribution date. For this year the pieces need to fall within March 2017 and October 31, 2018. The winners will be announced on Friday, November 9th.
GPHG Exhibition at The Hour Glass
The Hour Glass is holding a very special event in Singapore. Stop by Malmaison and preview the best of the best in contemporary watchmaking at the exclusive showcase of this year’s finalists. All 72 pre-selected watches are on display until Sunday the 21st of October. Malmaison is in the heart of Orchard Road, located at 270 Orchard Road #01-01 Singapore 238857. For a list of all watches on display.
The GPHG award show will take place in Geneva’s Théâtre du Léman with French actor and producer Edouard Baer running the show as master of ceremonies.
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