They’re known as the ‘Oscars of Watchmaking’ – and channelling Chariots of Fire screenwriter Colin Welland’s famous ‘The British are coming!’ acceptance speech of almost 40 years ago, the British were heavily represented at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG), held in Geneva last week.
Watches of Switzerland Group’s chief executive Brian Duffy was on the GPHG Jury that cast the final votes, while the illustrious, 30-strong panel of experts was presided over by British historian, writer and journalist Nick Foulkes and counted veteran British journalist Bill Prince among its number, too.
On the night, Watches of Switzerland brands Bulgari, Audemars Piguet, Tudor, Grand Seiko, Piaget and Zenith were among the big winners.
It had been two years since the GPHGs had last brought the industry together away from the pressures and deadlines of manufacturing watches – last year’s event took place behind closed doors because of the pandemic.
The excitement was palpable, and never clearer than on the face of Jean-Christophe Babin, Bulgari’s
chief executive, as he collected the top prize ‘Aiguille d’Or’ for the brand’s Octo Finissimo Titanium
Perpetual Calendar, the world’s thinnest perpetual calendar watch.
French actor Edouard Baer hosted in his inimitable, entertaining style, while the aforementioned Nick
Foulkes took to the stage to address an audience of 1,300 at the Théâtre du Léman in his role as
GPHG Jury President.
Winners included Audemars Piguet’s green-dialled platinum Royal Oak ‘Jumbo’ Extra-Thin, which took
home the Iconic Watch Prize; Tudor’s all-black Black Bay Ceramic, which picked up the coveted
‘Petite Aiguille’ Prize; and Zenith’s Chronomaster Sport, a popular winner in the Chronograph Watch
The GPHG was established in 2001 and over the last two decades has garlanded watches from Patek
Philippe, Vacheron Constantin and TAG Heuer. Last year, the event’s organisers inducted the GPHG
Academy, a global, multi-disciplinary roster of watch experts that it called on to nominate watches for
the jury’s consideration. This year, the Academy counted more than 500 members.
Piaget’s Limelight Gala Precious Rainbow won the Ladies’ Watch Prize; Grand Seiko’s Hi-Beat 36,000
80 Hours Caliber 9SA5 was awarded the Men’s Watch Prize; and MB&F became one of the evening’s
stand-out performers by picking up both the Men’s Complication Watch Prize for its LMX Titanium, and
the Artistic Crafts Watch Prize for its LM SE Eddy Jaquet ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’ piece, one
of a series of eight piece-unique watches with dials hand-engraved by the artist Eddy Jaquet that
depict scenes from Jules Verne’s most famous works.
The jury has the option to award a Special Jury Prize, which this year went to Dubai Watch Week, the
fast-growing biannual gathering that takes place in the United Arab Emirates. The 2021 edition of the
event takes place at the end of this month.