The Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) has announced its pre-selected finalists for the 2019 edition, six watches in each of the 14 categories. Often referred to as the Academy Awards for watchmaking, GPHG awards the best in watchmaking, judged by a jury comprising of the most well respected experts, collectors, watchmakers and journalists in the industry.
The prize winners will be announced on November 7, in a ceremony taking place at the Théâtre du Léman in Geneva, but before then, let’s take a look at the complete list of finalists. (The images used are by no means our predictions! We’ll leave that to the judges.)
The Ladies category is comprised of women’s watches with the following indications only: hours, minutes, seconds, simple date (day of the month), power reserve, classic moon phases; and may be adorned with a maximum 8-carat gem-setting.
The usual culprits are here: Bvlgari with the Serpenti Seduttori Pink Gold and Diamonds, Hermès with the Galop d’Hermès, Van Cleef & Arpels with the Perlée watch, and Moritz Grossmann with the Tefnut Arabian Nights Milanaise. Standing out amongst the pink gold is the new all-ceramic Chanel J12, and the titanium Hublot Classic Fusion Orlinski Titanium Alternative Pavé.
Women’s watches that are remarkable in terms of their mechanical creativity and complexity. These watches may feature all kinds of classic and/or innovative complications and indications (e.g. annual calendar, perpetual calendar, equation of time, complex moon phases, digital or retrograde time display, worldtime, second time zone or other types of model) and do not fit the definition of the Ladies’ and Mechanical Exception categories.
Contenders in this category show that ladies’ complications have come a long way. Our personal favourite MB&F Legacy Machine FlyingT is on the list, as are Bvlgari Divas’ Dream The Roman Night, Chaumet Soleil de Minuit Flying Tourbillon, Jacob & Co Fleurs de Jardin, Louis Vuitton Tambour Spin Time Air Paved and Van Cleef & Arpels Lady Arpels Zodiac Lumineux Aries watch.
Men’s watches comprising the following indications only: hours, minutes, seconds, simple date (day of the month), power reserve, classic moon phases; may be adorned with a maximum 5-carat gem-setting.
Independents dominate this category in a surprising turn of events, with only the Grand Seiko Spring Drive in platinum coming from a group. The others include Alchemists Mechanical Healing Cu29, De Bethune DB28 Yellow Tones, Grönefeld 1941 Principia Automatic, Laurent Ferrier Bridge One and Voutilainen 28ti.
Men’s watches that are remarkable in terms of their mechanical creativity and complexity. These watches may feature all kinds of classic and/or innovative complications and indications (e.g. worldtime, dual-time or other types of model) and do not fit the definition of the Men’s and Mechanical Exception categories.
The men’s complication category is similarly impressive, with heavy hitters like Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Minute Repeater Supersonnerie, Ulysses Nardin Freak X, Vacheron Constantin Overseas Tourbillon, Zenith Defy El Primero Double Tourbillon, Czapek Genève Place Vendôme “Ombres,” and D. Candaux DC6-Solstice.
The Iconic category is a new addition to this year’s GPHG, with watches defined as men’s or ladies’ watches from an emblematic collection that has been exercising a lasting influence on watchmaking history and the watch market for more than 25 years.
How do you judge whether an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-thin (in a gorgeous salmon dial colour), a TAG Heuer Monaco Eighties, or a Zenith El Primero A384 Revival is the more iconic? There’s also the awesome IWC Tribute to Pallweber Edition “150 Years”, as well as the Girard-Perregaux Quasar and the Hamilton Intra-Matic Automatic Chronograph.
This category is for mechanical watches comprising at least one tourbillon and/or a special escapement and/or another development improving chronometry (precision timekeeping). Additional indications and/or complications are admissible.
Another exciting selection with contenders including Antoine Preziuso Genève TTR3 Blue Equalizer Frequencies, Armin Strom Pure Resonance Rose Gold, Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud Carburised Steel Regulator, IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Constant-Force Tourbillon Edition “Le Petit Prince,” TAG Heuer Autavia Isograph and Zenith Defy Inventor.
Calendar and Astronomy
These are the men’s mechanical watches comprising at least one calendar and/or astronomical complication (e.g. date, annual calendar, perpetual calendar, equation of time, complex moon phases display, etc.). Additional indications and/or complications are admissible.
Ranging from the whimsical to the highly technical, we have the lovely Hermès Arceau L’heure de la lune, the Girard-Perregaux Cosmos, Sarpaneva’s Lunations, Ulysse Nardin’s Marine Mega Yacht (with a miniature anchor and windlass linked to the winding mechanism), to the Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Perpetual Calendar and the Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud Far Side of the Moon, which offers moon-age accuracy for actual astronomical use.
Men’s and/or ladies’ watches featuring a special mechanism, such as an innovative or sophisticated display, an automaton, a striking or any other acoustic function, a belt-driven movement or any other original and/or exceptional horological concept.
We don’t envy the jury for having to pick just one winner. In this category we have the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin, Bvlgari Octo Roma Grande Sonnerie Perpetual Calendar, Genus GNS1.2, Ulysse Nardin Freak NeXt, Urwerk AMC and Vacheron Constantin Traditionelle Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar.
Mechanical watches comprising at least one chronograph indication. Additional indications and/or complications are admissible.
The use of non-precious metal cases are fast becoming the norm, and this is most apparent in the Chronograph category, where stainless steel is out, and titanium and carbon is in. The Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic, the Louis Moinet Chronosphère and the Chopard L.U.C Chrono One Flyback are in titanium, the Hublot Classic Fusion Ferrari GT 3D Carbon and Zenith Defy El Primero 21 Carbon is in, well, carbon, and the TAG Heuer Carrera Tourbillon Nanograph which comes in a titanium case fitted with a carbon fibre bezel.
Another category new to this year’s edition of the GPHG is the Diver’s category, which includes watches linked to the world of diving, whose functions, materials and design are suited to this activity.
The finalists include the Longines HydroConquest, the Seiko Prospex LX Line Diver’s, the Ulysse Nardin Diver Great White and the Ressence Type 5. It also includes the new De Bethune DB28GS Grand Bleu, which features mechanical lighting by means of a miniature dynamo, as well as the Reservoir Hyrosphere Blackfin, which features retrograde minutes — something you definitely don’t see often in dive watches.
There are plenty of jewellery experts in the jury panel to help judge these watches demonstrating exceptional mastery of the art of jewellery and gemsetting, and also distinguished by the choice of stones.
Contenders include Bvlgari Serpent Misteriosi Romani, Chopard Waterlily, Hermès Arceau H Déco, Hublot Big Bang One Click Rainbow, Jacob & Co The Mystery Tourbillon and Van Cleef & Arpels Jardin de Glace Secret Watch.
These are the watches demonstrating exceptional mastery of one or several artistic techniques such as enamelling, lacquering, engraving, guilloché (engine-turning), skeleton-working, etc.
Miniature paintings and sculptural pieces, this category includes Andersen Genève Vita Vinum, celebrating the art of winemaking, Bereve Timepieces Numbers in Grand Feu enamel, Chopard L.U.C XP Espirit de Fleurier Peony, Hermès Arceau Baobab Cat, Jacob & Co Astronomia Dragon and Voutilainen Starry Night Vine.
Watches in this category have a retail price between CHF 4,000 and CHF 10,000. Smartwatches are admissible in this category and the next, although none were submitted this year.
Streamline by David Rutten Meteorite Watches, IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Spitfire, Kudoke 2 by Kudoke, Maurice Lacroix Aikon Mercury, Trilobe Les Matinaux Sunray Grey and Zenith Pilot Type 20 Silver are all finalists in this category.
And last but not least, Challenge, which are watches with a retail price under CHF 4,000.
The Tudor Black Bay P01, Seiko Presage Arita Porcelain Dial are in this category, as are Doxa SUB 200, Ming 17.06 Copper, Gorilla Watches Fastback GT Drift and Ciga Design Single-Hand Mechanical Wristwatch Series Globe.
You can view the full list of pre-selected watches here. The GPHG finalists will also begin their touring exhibition starting end of September. All the dates can be found here.