Yesterday, members of the global watchmaking community gathered at the prestigious Théâtre du Léman in Geneva, Switzerland, for an annual event that commemorates the industry’s best of the best. Considered the Oscars of haute horlogerie, the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève awards new releases that top their category and inject a new energy into an industry whose main currency is recording the passing of time. Eagerly awaited each year by watchmaking professionals and enthusiasts, the 22nd edition of the GPHG was hosted by French actor Édouard Baer and saw 21 prizes given out to a total of 90 nominated timepieces.
The judges panel — this year, headed by English historian, author, and journalist Nicholas Foulkes — unsurprisingly awarded the coveted Aiguille d’Or Grand Prix distinction to MB&F for its Legacy Machine Sequential Evo. This fascinating chronograph boasts extraordinary know-how, and is from an exceptional watchmaker only just closing in on two decades in the business.
Another major winner this year is Hermès, whose Arceau Le temps voyageur won both the ladies and the men’s complicated watch prize, while Akrivia’s Chronomètre Contemporain II and Parmigiani’s Tonda PF Automatic round off the gender-divisible categories. The GPHG double dipped more than once this year, also awarding Bulgari with two prizes: the Serpenti Misteriosi for the jewellery watch category and the Octo Finissimo Ultra 10th Anniversary for the audacity prize, which we agree is most well-deserved.
We cannot argue with Tudor’s Pelagos FXD taking home the best diver’s watch — a timepiece so comfortable it could just as easily be your everyday go-to — nor H Moser winning best tourbillon for its Cylindrical Tourbillon, although this watch had some tough competition from Grand Seiko (which took home the chronometry prize) and Greubel Forsey. The iconic watch prize is always a tricky category, but this year’s winner, TAG Heuer’ Gulf Monaco, is beyond reproach. So is the mechanical clock winner, Van Cleef & Arpels’ Fontaine Aux Oiseaux automaton — when we saw it earlier this year at Watches and Wonders, we knew it was award-winning. Other interesting wins include Voutilainen’s Ji Ku and Grönefeld’s 1941 Grönograaf Tantalum, an independent watchmaker worth keeping your eye on for their ingenious and audacious approach to the business.
If this list is making you reconsider how you choose your next watch purchase, keep this Oscar approximation in mind. Just because it wasn’t nominated doesn’t mean it isn’t great. Rolex, many Swatch Group owned brands and those from Richemont (except Van Cleef & Arpels) didn’t take part, for example, and many other influential watchmakers also declined to participate. Nevertheless, the GPHG does shine the spotlight quite brightly on the entirety of Swiss watchmaking culture, bringing its mechanical mastery into focus in a most interesting way.
Should you be in the neighbourhood, the 90 nominated watches —including the winners — will be on display at the Musée Rath in Geneva until Nov 20, and move on to New York from Dec 1 – 4.
Here's the full list of winners:
“Aiguille d’Or” Grand Prix: MB&F, Legacy Machine Sequential Evo
Ladies’ Watch Prize: Parmigiani Fleurier, Tonda PF Automatic
Ladies’ Complication Watch Prize: Hermès, Arceau Le temps voyageur
Men’s Watch Prize: Akrivia, Chronomètre Contemporain II
Men’s Complication Watch Prize: Hermès, Arceau Le temps voyageur
Iconic Watch Prize: TAG Heuer, Monaco X Gulf
Tourbillon Watch Prize: H. Moser & Cie, Pioneer Cylindrical Tourbillon Skeleton
Calendar and Astronomy Watch Prize: Krayon, Anywhere
Mechanical Exception Watch Prize: Ferdinand Berthoud, FB 2RSM.2-1
Chronograph Watch Prize: Grönefeld, 1941 Grönograaf Tantalum
Diver’s Watch Prize: Tudor, Pelagos FXD
Jewellery Watch Prize: Bulgari, Serpenti Misteriosi High Jewellery
Artistic Crafts Watch Prize: Voutilainen, Ji-Ku
“Petite Aiguille” Prize: Trilobe, Nuit Fantastique Dune Edition
Challenge Watch Prize: M.A.D. Editions, M.A.D.1 Red
Mechanical Clock Prize: Van Cleef & Arpels, Fontaine Aux Oiseaux automaton
Innovation Prize: Van Cleef & Arpels, Lady Arpels Heures Florales Cerisier watch
Audacity Prize: Bulgari, Octo Finissimo Ultra 10th Anniversary
Chronometry Prize: Grand Seiko, Kodo Constant-force Tourbillon
“Horological Revelation” Prize: Sylvain Pinaud, Origine
Special Jury Prize: François Junod, automaton-maker and sculptor