Very recently, the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) Foundation announced their 2021 finalists. Each award category (of which there are 14) is comprised of 6 shortlisted watches, for a total of 84 timepieces. For those unfamiliar with the GPHG, it is by far the single most important award ceremony in the watchmaking industry – kind of like the Oscars, but for watches. The Grand Jury, led by President Nick Foulkes, is comprised of 30 academy members, who are selected before each year’s Grand Prix proceedings.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at our GPHG 2021 finalists, set to take the stage on November 4th in Geneva!
This category, although it may appear straightforward, is very specific. Watches competing for this title must meet any of the following feature requirements: hours, minutes, seconds, date, power reserve and Moon phases. As well as these, if any precious stones are to be placed upon the timepiece, they must be of 9 carats or below.
This category is a mechanical and creative step up from the previous one, where peculiar complications and unique technical characteristics are at the forefront. From annual calendars and retrograde date functions, to tourbillons and world timers, this is where ultra-complication meets feminine elegance.
Similar to the first category, men’s watches must utilise any of the following features: hours, minutes, seconds, date, power reserve and Moon phases. Instead, if any precious stones are to be applied, they must be of 5 carats or below.
This is the category in which technical marvel is at the forefront – possibly one of the most exciting parts of the night.
The “Icons” category is a bit of a mixed bag for many: it rewards timepieces which have had a significant impact on the watch industry for the past 20+ years. Whilst this is an impressive achievement, it does beg the question: is it not getting old? Why are we rewarding the same watches year in and year out?
This category is rather self explanatory: the award goes to the timepiece which has utilised one or more tourbillons in the most fascinating way. Other complications are allowed, too – so long as it still has a tourbillon.
Any timepiece which features at least one type of calendar or astronomy-related complication (such as Moon phases or Equation du Temps) are allowed to compete in this category. Like the previous category, the watch can feature other complications, too.
This category rewards exceptional craftsmanship and technical expertise when it comes to watch engineering. We’re talking automatons, sonneries, specially-made escapements, etc.
This award goes to the timepiece which best executes at least one chronograph complication. As with other categories, the watch can feature other complications, too.
For this category, the Grand Jury will see which timepiece has used the most innovative and curious materials, as well as how well the watchmaker has paired it with traditional diver design cues.
This is where the artisans in watchmakers’ jewellery departments can really shine. The Jury won’t be keeping an eye out just for execution and technique; they will also look out for aspects such as precious stone selection.
Likewise, in this category, watchmaking artisans and artists will be rewarded for their exceptional craftsmanship when it comes to enamelling, lacquering, engraving, surface finishing and decoration.
The Petite Aiguille award is reserved to truly outstanding watches which you can pick up for between CHF 3,500 and 10,000.
Making things even more interesting – or, challenging, if you will – for watchmakers, this category involves outstanding watches which retail for below CHF 3,500.
Out of all of the categories listed in this article, as prestigious as they may be, there is one which trumps them all – the highest recognition in the Grand Prix: the Aiguille d’Or. This award goes to the best watch out of all of the winners of the categories just listed – a “best of the best of the best“.
Who will win it this year? We’ll have to wait until November 4th to find out. See you in Geneva!
Translated by: Patrick R.