This year’s GPHG, the world’s most celebrated horology award ceremony in Geneva was extremely interesting; out of the watches presented (in my humble opinion) each could have a nomination on its own, the crowd was fantastic and the unofficial after parties were a lot of fun! For the people who did not attend or don’t have a clue of what I am talking about when I say ‘GPHG’ let me first of all tell you a couple of words about the ceremony. For the people just getting into this whole ‘watch thing’ I like to use the Academy Awards cinema comparison… Best of the latest watchmaking is nominated for various prizes such as Best Men’s or Ladies’ Watch, and whoever wins gets all the fame and glory. The difference between the Grand Prix and Oscars though is that the independent watchmakers have the same chances of winning as the already established giants in horology. And without further explanations about the subject let’s see who won during the XIIIth ceremony!
First up, the Men’s Watch category, which was not as exciting as the others for one sole reason, that my favourite Louis Moinet ‘Mecanograph’ (a watch that I own) did not make it past the ‘Qualifications’ round. Nevertheless, out of all the pieces left the Voutilainen V-8R got the winning place. Personally, I think the black dial is awesome and the simplicity of the watch, mixed with the gold and blue hands really makes it a special timepiece. It is a limited edition, though the price for it (CHF 82’000) is indeed a little too high, even though it’s a completely in-house movement.
Next up is the Men’s Complications Watch prize, and again, even though I think the piece that won has deserved it, some of the watches (like the Breva ‘Genie 01’ or Arnold & Son ‘HM Perpetual Moon’) could easily make it to the list of final nominees. However focusing more on the winning piece, the Romain Gauthier ‘Logical One’ is one of the coolest complicated watches on the market today. With a special ‘fusee’ on the left part of the dial the brand offers an alternative solution to the winding process and the precision of the watch. Price-wise it is actually a lot cheaper than some of its competitors-nominees (like the Greubel Forsey), valued at CHF 139’000.
Now moving to the best of the best – the Grande Complication Watches, where the look is not enough, and what is valued most – is the technical aspect of the movement and the importance of complications. Even though (again) I was disappointed that the novelty of this year Spero Lucem La Clemence did not make it to the selected watches I had absolutely no doubt that the A. Lange & Söhne ‘1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar’ will get the winning prize in this category. Yes, it might not look as impressive as the GMT by Greubel Forsey but if you disassemble it and look at the movement you’ll see why it got the Gold (as well as the Public prize) ?
Before we move to the ladies watches there is still one awesome nomination left, the one where the independent brands have a clear advantage and are not afraid to use it ? – the Innovation Watch. Such entries like the HYT ‘H2’, Roger Dubuis ‘Quatuor’ and the Girard Perregaux’s ‘Constant Escapement’ really set a high benchmark, and it is quite hard to compete with them…
However Vianney Halter, the genius who is not after quantity but quality of his watches has surprised everyone yet again, after 6 years since his last creation switching from his usual mostly closed movements to a completely exposed ‘Deep Space’ tourbillon! First thought that comes to your mind when you look at the watch is ‘Does it work?!’ – I’ve seen it in person, and it does work, moreover its awesome, and the gigantic movement doesn’t disturb the view when you want to know the time (shown by outside hands). The case and glass is very 3D and to a certain extent it does indeed remind me of a space ship, lost somewhere in the cosmos. Price, of course, is high (around CHF200’000) but so is the complexity and rarity of it.
Two more watches, being presented at the GPHG 2013 in the ‘Innovation’ field have also received prizes, though not in this nomination… The new Girard Perregaux ‘Constant Escapement’ has taken the main award of the Grand Prix – the ‘Aiguille D’Or’ and the ‘oily’ Ressence ‘Type 3’ received the ‘Horological Revelation’ prize.
As for the Best Ladies Watch, a category that I am a little bit less crazy about, I would think it was a very hard decision to make, because most of the pieces resembled each other a lot and it would be hard for me to select the best one (maybe because I’m a guy?!). Nevertheless, DeLaneau, surpassing everybody else got the prize for the simplistic ‘Rondo Translucent’ watch. I have to say – the dial is absolutely beautiful, and with it being a piece unique covered in diamonds the price of CHF 55’000 seems very reasonable!
The Ladies Complication category though, was a much more interesting field to me. The watches didn’t look like just like jewelry, but also carried big importance under the dial. A couple of extremely fascinating pieces, one also by DeLaneau, and another by Bovet had my personal vote, but the winner turned out to be different…
Van Cleef & Arpels, one of the few brands not afraid to experiment with the ladies’ watches got the Gold (or should I say the Diamond) prize for the new ‘Lady Arpels Ballerine Enchantee’ piece, a part of the ‘Complications Poetiques’ collection. Not much functionality to the watch, though the complication is in the time telling process itself. To show the hours and minutes the piece uses Lady Arpels’ wings as the arrows.
As for the other wins Chanel ‘Mademoiselle Prive Camelia Brode’ received the Artistic Crafts prize
Chopard and its L’heure du Diamant took the Jewelry competition (I wonder why?!)
The best Sports watch was considered to be the Zenith ‘El Primero Stratos Flyback Striking 10th’
Petite Aiguille Prize was taken by Habring2
And the Revival Prize went to Tudor for their Heritage Black Bay.