For some 20 years now, the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Geneve (GPHG) has been seen as one of the world’s preeminent haute horology events. Dedicated to celebrating and promoting the watchmaking art around the world, its annual awards presentation spotlights the most stunningly innovative and precision-engineered timepieces created by both major brands and independent manufacturers. This year, for the first time, a new body – the GPHG Academy, an assembly of 350 key watch industry specialists – determined the winners. In all, 84 timepieces were nominated across 14 categories, with seven of the most outstanding showcased below…
“Aiguille d’Or” Grand Prize
Taking home this year’s top prize, Piaget’s Altiplano Ultimate Concept was the product of six long years of development by the brand’s in-house Research and Innovation division. Just 2mm deep, it is said to be the thinnest mechanical watch in the world. In order to facilitate its super-slim design, its case and movement have been merged into one, alongside an integrated winding crown and ultra-thin sapphire crystal. Turning traditional watchmaking conventions completely on their head, Piaget eschewed the use of gold in favour of a new, doubly strong cobalt-based alloy for specific machine components. It also crafted a lightweight mainspring barrel and created a patented ‘staggered’ winding stem as a means of accommodating the dial’s off-centre position.
Ladies’ Complication Watch Prize
Embodying undeniable beauty and mechanical creativity, Charles Girardier’s Tourbillon Signature Mysterieuse <<fleur de sel>> was the clear winner in the Ladies’ Complication Watch category. A welcome addition to the ever-burgeoning ranks of complex femme-focused timepieces, its blue enamel dial comes punctuated with a diamond-studded tourbillon at 6 o’clock and an intriguing rotating automaton burnished with the brand’s emblem at 12 o’clock. Powering it all is a CG1809 calibre self-winding mechanical movement, complete with a 46-hour power reserve.
Men’s Complication Watch Prize
Snapping up the Men’s Complication Watch Prize is Swiss haute horology label Greubel Forsey’s aptly-named Hand Made 1. Intriguingly, 95 percent of the wristwatch – including the hairspring – was made solely by hand-operated tools, with each unit requiring some 6,000 hours of work to complete. Featuring an almost industrial aesthetic, its open-worked dial is entirely unblemished, save for the hour and minute hands and an attention-grabbing tourbillon, with the words ‘HAND MADE’ proudly emblazoned at the 6 o’clock mark.
Chronometry Watch Prize
Taking home the Chronometry Watch Prize for the second year running was Ferdinand Berthoud, this time around with its FB 2RE.2. Supposedly inspired by the Marine Clock No.6 (crafted in 1768 by the legendary French watchmaker who gave the brand its name), its technically superlative design boasts an original movement that combines the fusee-and-chain transmission with a one-second remontoir powering the deadbeat seconds display on its enamel dial. Available in 18K white gold or yellow gold, both iterations of this rare chronograph are limited to just 10 pieces.
Calendar and Astronomy Watch Prize
Vacheron Constantin’s 41.5mm Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra-thin Skeleton, the winner of the Calendar and Astronomy Watch Prize, meanwhile, is a fine tribute to the brand’s renowned expertise in crafting the most intricate of ultra-thin wristwatches. Housed in a remarkably slim 8.1mm-thin pink gold case, its skeleton dial features a moon phase indicator and a perpetual calendar – one that requires no adjustment until 1 March 2100 – all powered by a cutting-edge Calibre 1120 QPSQ/1 movement.
Injecting a welcome dash of Islamic culture to proceedings was the Innovation Watch Prize winner – the Hijri Perpetual Calendar, which came courtesy of luxury Swiss watchmaker Parmigiani Fleurier. Rather than relying on the Gregorian calendar commonly used for crafting perpetual calendar complications, this innovative take on the technology is, instead, derived from the Hijri (the Islamic lunar calendar) – something of a first in terms of the marque’s wristwatch output. Housed in a platinum case, its slate dial is further embellished by all-Arabic moonphase, hour, minute, date and month all indicators.
Audacity Prize 2020
Completing our round-up of the best of the best GHPG winners is Schaffhausen-headquartered H. Moser & Cie, with its Endeavour Cylindrical Tourbillon H. Moser X MB&F finding much-deserved success in the Audacity category. Designed in partnership with MB&F, this outré wrist adornment is fronted by a fume (or gradated) dial tilted at 40 degrees under a sapphire crystal dome at 6 o’clock. The top of its blue-to-black fascia, meanwhile, is burnished with a one-minute flying tourbillon.