An exclusive event held on 8 November at Le Théâtre du Léman in Geneva saluted the new laureate watches on the occasion of the 17th GPHG – Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève.
72 competing watches, a jury composed of independent, 28 multi-disciplinary experts of various nationalities and coming from very different backgrounds, voting behind closed doors to award 16 prizes (15 plus one special one), among which the longed-for ‘Aiguille d’Or’ first prize – awarded to the L.U.C. Full Strike Watch by Chopard, who also won the Jewellery Watch Prize with the Lotus Blanc high jewellery watch.
The 72 competing watches, including the 15 prize-winning models, are still on show at the Musée d’art et d’histoire in Geneva (MAH) until November 12th, as part of an original exhibition dedicated to the contemporary art of watchmaking. The winners will also be exhibited from November 16th to 20th during the 3rd Dubai Watch Week.
A prestigious event to celebrate and recognise the excellence, innovation and expertise in fine watchmaking.
The jury of experts, after the first round of voting this summer, chose six watches for each of the 12 categories in which the watches would compete: Ladies’ – Ladies’ High-Mech – Men’s – Chronograph – Tourbillon and Escapement – Calendar – Travel Time – Mechanical Exception – “Petite Aiguille” – Sports – Jewellery – Artistic Crafts.
Here are the winners of the 17th Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève.
“Aiguille d’Or” Prize List: Chopard, L.U.C Full Strike
Six years of work for Chopard’s most sophisticated chiming watch to date. The L.U.C. Full Strike is a 42.5 mm-diameter watch in Fairmined rose gold with an openworked dial. A minute repeater entirely developed, produced and assembled by Chopard.
Behind this acoustic result lies one of the most sophisticated and inventive movements ever created by Chopard Manufacture. Almost 17,000 hours of development have been lavished on the development of calibre 08.01-L, which is subjected to three pending patents. Chopard has found all-new in-house responses to historical issues relating to the nature of the gongs, as well as to the operation and ergonomics of the striking system as a whole.
The true strength of the L.U.C Full Strike resides in the fact that this impressive array of technical prowess goes discreetly unnoticed on the wrist, thanks to a thoroughly refined watch bearing the Poinçon de Genève quality hallmark. Pressing the crown-integrated pusher causes it to chime the hours, quarters and minutes, on transparent crystal gongs, to the delight of its owner and those around him.
These sapphire rings are an integral part of the watch glass, which creates a perfect loudspeaker faithfully to diffuse the chimes of the hammers striking the sapphire.
This is a unique technical solution which is visible at 10 o’clock and results in a tone of matchless purity that is rich and full, powerful and resonant. The traditional metaphorical description of a sound as “crystal-clear” takes on a very literal meaning here.
Behind this acoustic result lies one of the most sophisticated and inventive movements ever created by Chopard Manufacture. Chopard has found all-new in-house responses to historical issues relating to the nature of the gongs, as well as to the operation and ergonomics of the striking system as a whole.
The “Aiguille d’Or” is then a very well-deserved award highlighting, for Chopard, an exceptional achievement in fine watchmaking.
Innovation Prize: Zenith, Defy Lab
The Zenith Defy Lab (44 mm case) defines itself as “the most precise mechanical watch ever”, thanks to a new monolithic oscillator forming a monolithic whole made of monocrystalline silicon, 0.5 mm thick, that reinterprets Huyguens sprung balance principle, invented in 1675 and that is at the very heart of every mechanical watch.
This breathtaking development oscillates at the incredible frequency of 15 Hertz (108.000 A/h), with an amplitude of +/- 6 degrees, and is endowed with an almost 60-hour power reserve – more than 10% more than that of the El Primero – despite three times higher frequency.
The case is in aeronith, an innovative and extremely light aluminium composite material. Aeronith resembles an extremely solid metal foam and was developed using an exclusive high-tech process. It is 2.7 times lighter than titanium, 1.7 times lighter than aluminium and 10% lighter than carbon fibre.
“Revival” Prize: Longines, The Longines Avigation BigEye
The Swiss watch brand Longines regularly draws on its historical pieces to enhance its Heritage line. Today, it is reissuing a chronograph with a design from the 1930s, in keeping with the great tradition of pilot watches.
With its rich watchmaking tradition, Longines places particular importance on the work of memory. The brand with the winged hourglass thus continues to acquire new watches to enrich its museum’s collection, which traces the brand’s 185-year history. Today, Longines has decided to reissue one of its recent acquisitions as part of its Heritage collection: The Longines Avigation BigEye.
The Longines Avigation BigEye is inspired by a chronograph whose aesthetic is typical of the great age of aviation. True to the spirit of pilots’ watches, this model displays a very readable dial with a focus on the minute counter and impressive push buttons that enable the wearer to handle them while wearing gloves.
The 41 mm diameter case of The Longines Avigation BigEye houses an L688 column-wheel chronograph movement produced exclusively for Longines. Its semi-glossy black dial is decorated with Arabic numerals coated with SuperLuminova© and displays a small second hand at 9 o’clock as well as a 12-hour counter at 6 o’clock. The oversized 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock adds a touch of aesthetic originality to this timepiece. A domed crystal and a brown leather watch strap add vintage elegance to the piece.
The Longines Avigation BigEye is a model with an assertive look that will please lovers of beautiful vintage pieces steeped in history.
Ladies’ Watch Prize: Chanel, Première Camélia Skeleton
This year, to mark the 30th anniversary of the Première watch, CHANEL expands once again the parameters of its exclusive vision of Fine Watchmaking, presenting the Première Camélia Skeleton, winning in the GPHG ‘Ladies’ category for the 4th time.
Chanel’s Première Camélia Skeleton is equipped with the second in-house CHANEL movement, the Caliber 2, whose ethereal geometry sketches out the shape of a Camellia flower. The complication of this movement was in the arrangement of all the different mechanisms, which had to be positioned in such a way as to form the camellia flower. This skeleton movement in deepest black, unique in its genre, incarnates one of the iconic symbols of the House.
The Caliber 2 is the second movement designed by the creative studio located at Place Vendôme and produced exclusively by the CHANEL Swiss Manufacture. Entirely styled in the shape of a camellia, Mademoiselle’s favourite flower, it is the epitome of artistic freedom of CHANEL creation.
Ladies’ High-Mech Watch Prize: Van Cleef & Arpels, Lady Arpels Papillon Automate
Unveiled at SIHH 2017, Van Cleef & Arpels new Lady Arpels™ Papillon Automate is an artistic creation in which enchanting nature comes to life as never before.
Equipped with a particularly sophisticated automaton module, it depicts the random fluttering of a butterfly, moving in accompaniment to the movements of the watch’s wearer.
As the hours and minutes flow discretely by on the right, the butterfly beats its wings randomly – one to four times in a row, depending on the power reserve. The frequency of the movements is also irregular since they take place every two to four minutes when the watch is not being worn and more often when it is on the wrist. The butterfly’s liveliness echoes that of its wearer, with alternating periods of calm and activity. The spectacle on the dial can also be triggered at the push of a button: the butterfly then beats its wings on demand.
The entire scene is illuminated by a wide range of traditional crafts, gathered together at Van Cleef & Arpels’ watchmaking workshops in Meyrin, Switzerland.
Men’s Watch Prize: Bvlgari, Octo Finissimo Automatic
Bulgari Octo Finissimo Automatic is the slimmest ultra-thin self-winding watch on the market to date, representing BVLGARI’s third successive world record, as it features a total thickness of just 5.15mm, while its self-winding movement, the Calibre BVL 138, is just 2.23mm thick for a 40mm diameter.
To ensure smooth energy regulation, the in-house developed movement BVL 138 Finissimo beats at a frequency of 21,600 vibrations per hour and has a 60-hour power reserve. The platinum micro-rotor accomplishes the automatic winding.
Despite the constraints involved in developing an ultra-thin watch calibre, the Côtes de Genève and circular-grained finishing hand-decorate the movement, resulting in a timepiece that is extremely impressive in watchmaking terms, while maintaining a chic and minimalistic appearance.
The Octo iconic case confidently flaunts its paradoxical nature that is both very pure and yet very complex, expressed through a strong and daring design. The case and dial are attired in titanium, featuring a sandblasted surface that lends a highly contemporary note to the watch. To guarantee the legibility and the highly contemporary contrast effect, the hands and hour-markers are coated with a black PVD treatment. Prolonging the pleasure procured by the light feel of titanium, the watch comes with a titanium link bracelet.
An iconic family, the Octo Finissimo collection, that is once again pushing the boundaries of watchmaking feasibility and masculine formal elegance to an unprecedented contemporary style for the world of ultra-thin watches.
Chronograph Watch Prize: Parmigiani Fleurier, Tonda Chronor Anniversaire
To mark its 20th anniversary, Parmigiani Fleurier is unveiling a dream made a reality.
The Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Chronor Anniversaire features an integrated chronograph that can be defined as one of the most subtle complications which can be created.
All the components of this hand-wound movement, which include a chronograph, a split second function and a large date, sit on the same main plate, with no additional module. The house calibre PF361 features several cutting-edge technological innovations: a 5 Hertz movement (36,000 vibrations per hour), column wheels replacing a cam, a vertical clutch rather than a horizontal one, a “cock” balance secured by a transverse bridge instead of a single attachment point. These developments add accuracy, reliability, stability and robustness to the movement.
To underline its prestige, the “Tonda Chronor Anniversaire” is driven by a gold calibre. The cases – in white or rose gold – strike a perfect balance with the grand feu enamel of the dial.
Prestigious, requiring technical excellence, the integrated chronograph says a great deal about the potential of Parmigiani Fleurier’s manufacture. It harks back to the watchmaking expertise that enabled its creation; it reminds us that a manufacturing process is truly exceptional when it employs years of accumulated knowledge. It paves the way towards an era when the watchmaker, the technician and the craftsman walk side by side.
Tourbillon and Escapement Watch Prize: Bvlgari, Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Skeleton
Continuing its quest for beauty and elegance, Bulgari achieves a new level with a skeleton-worked interpretation of its Octo Finissimo Tourbillon, the world’s slimmest tourbillon, introduced in 2014.
The whole movement is now visible and the magic spell is woven even more powerfully through this contemporary elegance tinged with extreme technical sophistication.
The Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Skeleton is driven by an ultra-thin, openworked tourbillon comprising 253 parts, featuring 13 jewels and eight ball bearings serving to reduce the overall thickness of the calibre. Beating at a frequency of 21,600 vibrations per hour, the movement delivers a 52-hour power reserve.
To ensure perfect efficiency and precision, its barrel spring is equipped with a slipping spring and the tourbillon cage is fitted on a peripherally driven ultra-thin ball-bearing mechanism. This exceptional and exclusive movement houses a barrel held by three ball bearings, an innovative feature serving to double the height of the barrel spring and thus achieve an 80% increase in power reserve, an impressive accomplishment for such a slim tourbillon model.
To highlight such a movement with the panache it deserves, the 40 mm case is made of platinum and features a platinum crown with ceramic insert.
Calendar Watch Prize: Greubel Forsey, QP à Équation
After seven years of research, the assembly of no fewer than 624 parts, three patents, and the combination of two inventions – Greubel Forsey revolutionises one of the oldest watchmaking complications, the perpetual calendar, by incorporating an equation of time. This is Greubel Forsey QP à Équation.
At the heart of the QP à Équation lies Greubel Forsey’s seventh invention, the Mechanical Computer, an entirely integrated 25-part component that brings a totally new interpretation to some of the calendar functions. It is composed of a set of coding wheels superimposed in a coaxial manner, along with removable fingers programmed by this ingenious system. Depending on their rotation speeds and the number of teeth, these wheels provide a variety of information. The Mechanical Computer also directly drives a system of sapphire disks that displays the equation of time, i.e. the difference between the “real” solar time and civil time. Paramount to this was simplifying the way all the indications can be corrected by turning the bi-directional crown.
This new interpretation of the perpetual calendar features the Equation of Time incorporated within it, along with the addition of new functions and displays that aim to optimise readability and pleasure of use. Three apertures lined up in the sub-dial at 3 o’clock give an unequivocal indication of the day, date and month for enhanced visual comfort. The large date boosts readability, making it especially easy to make out the elements of the calendar.
Travel Time Watch Prize: Parmigiani Fleurier, Toric Hémisphères Rétrograde
The Toric Hémisphères Rétrograde is the ultimate traveller’s timepiece. With its two time zones, it allows any two locations to be paired, and correct to the nearest minute. It even allows those locations with a half-hour or quarter-hour difference to be paired with full hour times set from the Greenwich meridian. Featuring a knurled bezel, the signature feature of the Toric family, the case of this timepiece was the first creation designed by Michel Parmigiani in 1996. This establishing model is now bringing its elegant and classic aesthetics to the world of modern travel.
The Toric Hémisphères Rétrograde has two time zones, each accurate to the nearest minute. A module is indexed to the main movement in order to govern the second time zone. By pulling out the small crown at 2 o’clock, the module is disengaged from the movement, meaning that it can be adjusted independently of the second time zone, to the nearest minute. When the crown is pressed back in, the movement and the module re-engage and the second time zone is re-indexed to the first so that they operate simultaneously with the desired interval. The main crown at 9 o’clock is used to wind the movement and set the time of the two paired time zones. Each of the time zones is associated with a window, which provides the day/night indication so that the time of day can be read in an instant for each time zone.
The calibre PF 317 also features an instant retrograde calendar, indicated by the third central hand. This self-winding movement has a double series-mounted barrel for improved isochronism and rate regularity, with a power reserve of 50 hours.
The dial of the Toric Hémisphères Rétrograde is designed so that the most important functions stand out the most in a very specific hierarchy. Firstly, the hands of the main time zone, plated in 4N gold, are coated with Super-LumiNova® to make them luminous and more prominent. Meanwhile, the hands of the second time zone are rhodium-plated to present a more discreet shade. Finally, the date indication stands out thanks to fine numerals that are large enough to ensure good legibility. They are indicated by a hand ending in a red crescent moon. The rest of the dial is understated, discreet and harmonious to avoid any distractions when reading these key temporal indications.
The Toric Hémisphère Rétrograde is available with a rose gold case paired with a grained white dial. On the back of the piece, the movement is entirely decorated with Côtes de Genève and circular-grained to the highest Haute Horlogerie standards. It incorporates an 18 ct rose gold guilloché oscillating weight to add a prestigious touch befitting of a timepiece dedicated to travel.
Mechanical Exception Watch Prize: Vacheron Constantin, Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600
Five years of development and only one dedicated master watchmaker, along with two years of design: this is what was required to develop Vacheron Constantin‘s one-of-a-kind Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600.
The Fine Watchmaking firmament welcomes a bright new star: the unique twin-dial of the Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600 combines astronomy and the watchmaking art in a celestial white gold composition. Twenty-three essentially astronomical complications appear on the front and back dials of the watch, providing a reading of time in three modes – civil, solar and sidereal – each driven by its own gear train. Embodying the height of technical sophistication, its new fully integrated 514-part calibre measures a mere 8.7 mm thick, while six barrels guarantee three full weeks of autonomy.
This Haute Horlogerie ‘heavenly phenomenon’ is one of the most complex ever made and heir to a proud lineage of astronomical timepieces, as it descends from the celebratedRéférence 57260 – the world’s most complicated watch equipped with 57 complications.
Presented in the collection Les Cabinotier, made of exclusive timepieces, this astronomical super complication model exemplifies the tradition of Geneva’s 18th-century “cabinotiers”. The quintessentially rare Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600 is issued in a limited edition of one. Fitted with an alligator leather strap secured by a white gold pin buckle, it comes in a luxurious presentation box adorned with wood marquetry.
“Petite Aiguille” Watch Prize: Tudor, Black Bay
Since 1954 Tudor has been constantly improving its professional divers’ watches. The new hybrid Heritage Black Bay Chrono chronograph dares to combine the aquatic heritage represented by the Black Bay family with the queen of the racetrack, the chronograph.
Remaining faithful to the Black Bay aesthetic with the famous snowflake hands –a brand signature since 1969– the Heritage Black Bay Chrono model offers optimum readability against the domed matt black dial. Its sub-counters are hollowed for optimum contrast and a date aperture is positioned at 6 o’clock. The recognisable characteristics of the Black Bay are preserved in a steel case with a 41-millimetre diameter, fitted with pushers inspired by the first generation of Tudor chronographs. A fixed bezel in circular satin-brushed steel with engraved tachymetric scale completes the face of this sporty new chronograph.
Boasting a 70-hour power reserve, a silicon balance spring and certification by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute, the Manufacture chronograph Calibre MT5813 that drives the Heritage Black Bay Chrono model is a high-performance movement.
It presents extraordinary robustness and reliability. Derived from the chronograph manufacture calibre Breitling 01, this movement is the result of a recent collaboration between the two brands, which now pool their expertise in the design and production of certain mechanical movements.
Tudor derived the characteristic aesthetic elements of the Heritage Black Bay Chrono model from its history. The overall shape, as well as the domed dial and crystal, come from the first Tudor divers’ watches. The prominent winding crown is a feature of the famous reference 7924 from 1958. The first Tudor watch to be waterproof to 200 metres (660 ft), known as the Big Crown. Finally, the characteristic angular hands, known as snowflake, are typical of the watches delivered to the French Navy in the 1970s.
Chrono Sports Watch Prize: Ulysse Nardin, Marine Regatta
Getting off to a good start. This is precisely the purpose of this groundbreaking Marine Regatta chronograph with a patent to prove it equipped with a sweep countdown timer that can be set from 1 to 10 minutes. Victory comes down to those crucial minutes before the starting gun goes off while manoeuvring to cross starting line with optimal positioning and perfect timing.
The purpose of a regatta chronograph is not only to track racing time but, above all, to count down the critical minutes before the racers cross the starting line. A good start determines the success in this test of skill, tactics and technical expertise. The Ulysse Nardin Marine Regatta chronograph delivers groundbreaking functionality and intuitive tracking of these crucial minutes. Dedicated to top-level sailing, this watch has been developed with the expert advice of famous yachtsmen Loïck Peyron and Iain Percy, both brand ambassadors and members of the Artemis Racing team.
The Ulysse Nardin Regatta timepiece demonstrates its stylistic power to better reveal the complexity of the in-house crafted drive it contains. 650 artfully arranged components shape the originality and special attributes of this regatta chronograph, engineered with an ingenious two-way count-up/count-down system. Easy to read and precise, designed for those moments during the regatta when each second counts and competitors jump into action.
The result of many months of development – based on the renowned manufacture chronograph calibre UN-153, the new calibre UN-155 features performance, ease of use and perfectly designed display brightness. The ample 3-day power reserve, the two-way seconds hand that can be stopped to adjust the hour and the bi-directional date change compliment its remarkable practicality.
With its distinctive appearance, the Regatta timepiece recalls the nautical roots of the company. Its heavy 44 mm diameter steel case, water-resistant to 100 meters, is completed by a fluted bezel with rubber inserts, a screw-down crown and two moulded rubber pushers. Its faceted lugs perfectly integrate the rubber strap featuring titanium inserts and folding buckle. As a tribute to its partnership with Artemis Racing for the 35th America’s Cup, Ulysse Nardin has also created a limited edition of 35 watches. Featuring a black enamel Champlevé dial, this model’s countdown feature appears on the bezel in yellow and anthracite grey, the colours of the Swedish team.
Jewellery Watch Prize: Chopard, Lotus Blanc Watch
The white lotus, an oriental flower of remarkable delicacy, symbolises purity of heart and mind. Chopard could not have imagined a finer emblem to compete in the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève. Embodying the encounter between the watchmaking know-how and the jewellery expertise cultivated by the Maison, the Lotus Blanc watch unfurls to reveal the secret of its exceptional beauty: infinite grace matched by perfectly mastered execution.
It was during a trip to South-East Asia, when strolling in a garden, that Chopard co-president Caroline Scheufele was touched by the exquisite refinement of the white lotus. A sacred flower in eastern religions, this apparently fragile aquatic plant served as a throne for divinities, for its dainty petals conceal an incomparable force enabling the lotus to be daily reborn, as immaculate and pure as on its very first day. Its corolla closes every night, before blooming once again at sunrise.
To express this perpetual renewal, Chopard has dreamed up a gorgeous secret watch that can be uncovered at will.
Set with 25.66 carats of white diamonds, this precious timepiece reflects the meticulous work of the in-house artisans. They have patiently combined their talents in giving life to this daring dream. Its petals sparkle as if dotted with dewdrops open in one smooth move; while the flowing bracelet composed of fine rows of diamonds evokes the undulating waters on which the flower bobs gently up and down. The effect is truly striking, as the plant gracefully awakens and slips into slumber once more, surrounded by a magnificent halo of light.
Artistic Crafts Watch Prize: Voutilainen, Aki-No-Kure
The expression “Aki-No-Kure” literally means “the scene in late autumn”, and it is based on the notion of “the circle of life”, as late autumn represents the wheel of life (regeneration) spinning towards the spring season ahead.
The dial of this masterpiece watch depicts the leaves of the Japanese pampas grass (Miscanthus Sinensis), swaying in the autumn breeze. Also, it is reminiscent of the mesmerizing movements of ripples or surging waves.
The Aki-No-Kure is a unique piece, with art dcoration made at the legendary Japanese laquered studio of Unruyan, in Wajima town in Japan, after more than one thousand hours of work to complete the dial, bridges and cover of the case back.
Typical Japanese artistic materials, such as Kinpun (gold dust), Jyunkin-itakane (gold-leaf), Yakou-gai (shell of great green turban) and Awabi-gai (abalone shell from New Zeland) were used to create and decorate a poetic dial, that translates into the present a craft that has been existing for hundreds of years.
The art of laquering exemplifies the passion to preserve the soul, spirit and identity of traditional Japanese culture as expressed in the Edo period.
This kind of work of art made hundreds of years ago still touches the modern souls. It can be restored and remains like new even if we touch and manipulate lacquer with our own hands. This superlative work engages us immediately on a physical level and one can only stand in awe at the commitment, patience and dedication required to create these works of art.
This symbiosis of Japanese tradition with the Swiss Haute Horlogerie creations of Kari Voutilainen represents an all-embracing mechanical and visual work of art that unites the East and West in perfect harmony.