Another night in Geneva, another GPHG, « Grand Prix de l’Horlogerie de Genève ». That’s how things went for the fourteenth time near the Leman Lake, in the Grand Theatre. There, hundreds of CEOs and watchmakers attended the celebration of fine watchmaking, embodied through a dozen of categories. These included the traditional « Men’s watch », « Ladies watch », « Sport watch », etc. but also five new categories, amongts wich the Sonnerie, the Tourbillon or the « Mechanical exception ».
While the 2013 edition had been a huge success for independent watchmakers, tonight in Geneva the prizes were much more balanced. For the first time in seven years, the BIg Three were reunited – or, so to say, competing : LVMH, Swatch Group and Richemont. However, enter the contest only the brands that wanted to. Some might notice that major independents, such as Patek Philippe, Rolex or Breitling, did not send any of their watches. Afraid to lose ? We’ll never know…
GPHG 2014 – German touch and Bien feeling
At the very start of the ceremony, 90-years old Walter Lange was awarded for his major contribution both in resuming A. Lange & Söhne’s activity 20 years ago, and in putting the city of Glashütte back on the horologic map. A few minutes later, an outsider came on stage : Urban Jürgensen & Sønner. The Danish brand won the coveted prize of Men’s watch. The jury has probably awarded the quality of the Seconde Centrale as well as the fact that it’s a marine chronometer especially designed and adapted for the wrist.
In Bien, the Swatch Group probably had a glass of Champagne. After 7 years out of the Grand Prix, the Group is back and won one third of the prizes, with two Breguet, one Blancpain and one Omega. But while the Swatch Group made a clean sweep, small independents also had the glory time. Amongst them, Kari Voutilainen, the (Finnish) very estimeed watchmaker who won a women’s prize with his Hisui, which both dial and movement required an amazing 1000 hours.
GPHG 2014 – Duets and brothers
Also coming from the North, the Grönenfeld brothers from Netherlands with their now award-winning Parallax Tourbillon. A pretty good bet, especially when competitors in this category included tourbillon masters such as Breguet.
Another duet, not of watchmakers but of prizes : the young independent manufacture Urwerk won two prizes at the time…with the same piece, the EMC ! The watch won the Innovation prize as well as the Mechanical Exception one. The EMC is the first timepiece ever combining a mechanical heart along with an electronic module, which allows the wearer to check the accuracy of his watch…and set it on his own, without the help of a watchmaker.
The young brand De Bethune also made a hole in the sky with its amazing DB29 MaxiChrono. The piece had been unveiled during the latest Baselworld and displays a chronograph with not less than 5 hands on the same dial, along with a very innovative in-house caliber. That’s the second time De Bethune jumps on stage of Geneva’s GPHG, proving that the brand is clearly becoming a trend-setter in the watchmaking world.
Christophe Claret, on his side, had to wait all his life before coming on stage, and when he did, yesterday, that was for…his lady’s complicated piece, the Margot ! The watchmaker, master in the ultra-technical field of men’s complications, created last year a very poetic (and still technical) piece where ladies can pick the leaves of a daisy, as a very famous poem states in French. Next year will be the 15th edition of the GPHG, with, probably, more surprises to come !
To see all the results of GPHG 2014, please check the Palmares 2014 on the Official GPGH Website.