Last Friday, Geneva welcomed the 2013 edition of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, the GPHG.
A few months ago, when the GPHG Foundation unveiled the names of the people who would have the extreme difficult job to reward the pieces that would stand as the top watches of the year, there were some doubts about their balance – and real watch knowledge. Bloggers where sitting next to experts, journalists, designers, collectors, architects, and even a prosecutor from NYC ! All these people were gathered around Aurel Bacs, head of Christie’s watch department – a very respected man in the watch industry who standed as one of the ultimate authority in this jury, and its president.
In the end, the selection of pieces revealed an extraordinary balance between well-known brands and niche ones, between manufactures and independent, between new-comers and institutions. This 2013 edition was probably the best of the past couple of years.
Rumors says in Geneva that this unusual jury will change next year. Some were relieved. But when we look at the following results, we must admit that this jury did an extraordinary work.
GPHG 2013: Institutions remain institutions
When we talk about chronometers and sports watches, the name ‘Zenith’ comes up above for almost a century. The GPHG 2013 was no exception for the dedicated prize « Sport Watch ». Zenith hit not only the sky this year, but also the stratosphere when Felix Baumgartner jumped out of his capsule with a Primero on his wrist. 44 years after his creation, this caliber is still a reference. The jury awarded Zenith for its outstanding capacity of keeping it alive and make it evolve with its time. For the record, Zenith has already won 2,333 chronometry prizes in a century and a half of existence !
On the same level, Van Cleef & Arpels was awarded with the Ladies’ Complications Watch Prize. Who else could have won it ? Complications for women are an extremely sensitive segment where almost all the brands failed. Van Cleef & Arpels almost reinvented this kind of watches about 5 years ago, with poetry and elegance. Again, deserved prize, but there were almost no real competitors. And it was pretty the same with Lange & Söhne, which won the Grande Complication prize – with no real competitor as Audemars Piguet did not pass the selections step.
Chanel was a serious challenger but given the fact that the manufacture already won a prize last year (Ladies’ Watch), the jury could have been tempted to chose another brand. In fact, its members chose…the same Chanel, but in another category : the Artistic Crafts watch prize ! A great and smart way to highlight the fact that Chanel did the perfect weeding between fine timepieces and haute couture.
GPHG 2013: Independent remain…independent !
On the opposite side, the jury awarded a lot of independent watchmakers and brands. The youngest ones were Habring2 (« Petite Aiguille » prize) and Ressence (« Horological Revelation » prize). With their own feeling, approach and expression, these two young brands bring fresh air to Geneva.
If Habring2 remains quite traditional with a three hands model, Ressence with the Ressence Type 3 has completely reinvented the way time is displayed. Benoît Mintiens, its Belgian founder, created a very pure watch with no hands. His second creation, the one that was awarded, is called the Scaphandrier. Its dial is completely immerged, giving a unique look & feel to the watch, almost as if its owner could touch the time.
Last but not least, the Aiguille d’Or was given to Girard-Perregaux. The manufacture unveiled a couple of months ago a tremendous new system of constant escapement, which allows the watch to be more accurate. Simple words, but huge R&D during five years. It’s still too late to talk about a revolution but the Echappement Constant opens doors that were locked for three centuries !