The 22nd edition of the Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève - GPHG - wrapped up with a stunning awards ceremony on Thursday evening (10 November).
Dubbed the industry’s equivalent of the Oscars, and this unmissable event reunites the world’s most prestigious luxury companies, who present their best watches in the hope of nabbing one of the coveted prizes at the GPHG, including the distinguished “Aiguille d’Or” Grand Prix best-in-show award.
Swiss watchmakers MB&F, Maximilian Büsser & Friends, walked away with this year's prestigious Grand Prix de l'Aiguille d'Or award for their Legacy Machine Sequential Evo model, pictured below.
Conceived for MB&F by Stephen McDonnell, the LM Sequential EVO explodes the current limits of existing chronographs with a back-to-the-drawing-board approach towards assumptions on chronograph construction.
MB&F is an artistic concept laboratory based around a simple idea: to assemble collectives of independent watchmaking professionals to develop radical watches - Horological or Legacy Machines. The company was founded - or, as they put it, their "rebellion" began - in 2005.
Watch the full ceremony in the media player below and scroll down for the full list of winners.
For its 22nd edition, 90 nominated timepieces, including 84 watches and 6 clocks, were vying to be recognised as the best in the 15 categories – which include Ladies, Men, Calendar and Astronomy, Jewellery and this year’s new Mechanical Clock category.
The full list of winners are as follows:
“Aiguille d’Or” Grand Prix 2022: MB&F - Legacy Machine Sequential Evo
Special Jury Prize 2022: "A unique and special laurel," according to Jury PresidentNick Foulkes. Winner: François Junod.
Men’s Complication: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. world time, dual time or other types of model) and do not fit the definition of the Men’s and Mechanical Exception categories.2022 WINNER: Hermès - Arceau Le temps voyageur
Ladies' Complication: 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, tourbillon, digital or retrograde time display, world time, dual time or other types of model) and do not fit the definition of the Ladies’ and Mechanical Exception categories.2022 WINNER: Hermès - Arceau Le temps voyageur
Ladies’ watch prize: Women’s watches comprising the following indications only - hours, minutes, seconds, simple date (day of the month), power reserve, classic moon phases; and potentially adorned with a maximum 9-carat gemsetting.2022 WINNER: Parmigiani Fleurier - Tonda PF Automatic
Men’s watch prize: Men’s watches comprising the following indications only - hours, minutes, seconds, simple date (day of the month), power reserve, classic moon phases – and potentially adorned with a maximum 9-carat gemsetting.2022 WINNER: Atelier AKRIVIA - Chronomètre Contemporain II
Mechanical Clock - 2022's new category: Mechanical time-measuring instruments, such as longcase clocks or table clocks. Wristwatches are not allowed in this category.2022 WINNER: Van Cleef & Arpels - Fontaine Aux Oiseaux automaton
Jewellery: Watches demonstrating exceptional mastery of the art of jewellery and gemsetting, and also distinguished by the choice of stones.2022 WINNER: Bulgari - Serpenti Misteriosi High Jewellery
Mechanical Exception: Watches featuring a special mechanism, such as an innovative or sophisticated display, an automaton, a striking or any other acoustic function, a special escapement, a belt-driven movement or featuring another original and/or exceptional horological concept.2022 WINNER: Ferdinand Berthoud - FB 2RSM.2-1
Calendar and Astronomy: 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. 2022 WINNER: Krayon - Anywhere
Tourbillon: Men’s mechanical watches comprising at least one tourbillon. Additional indications and/or complications are admissible. 2022 WINNER: H. Moser & Cie - Pioneer Cylindrical Tourbillon Skeleton
Chronograph: Mechanical watches comprising at least one chronograph indication. Additional indications and/or complications are admissible. 2022 WINNER: Grönefeld - 1941 Grönograaf Tantalum
Artistic Crafts: Watches demonstrating exceptional mastery of one or several artistic techniques such as enamelling, lacquering, engraving, guilloché (engine-turning), skeleton-working, etc.2022 WINNER: Voutilainen - Ji-Ku
Iconic: Watches from an emblematic collection that has been exercising a lasting influence on watchmaking history and the watch market for more than 20 years. 2022 WINNER: TAG Heuer - Monaco X Gulf
Diver’s: Watches linked to the world of diving, whose functions, materials and design are suited to this activity. 2022 WINNER: Tudor - Pelagos FXD
“Petite Aiguille”: Watches with a retail price between CHF 3,500 and CHF 10,000. Smartwatches are admissible in this category. 2022 WINNER: Trilobe - Nuit Fantastique Dune Edition
Challenge: Watches with a retail price equal to or under CHF 3,500. Smartwatches are admissible in this category. 2022 WINNER: M.A.D. Editions - M.A.D.1 Red
Audacity Prize 2022: This prize rewards the best competing watch featuring a non-conformist, offbeat approach to watchmaking. Winner: Bulgari, who won the “Aiguille d’Or” Grand Prix last year.
Innovation Prize 2022: This prize rewards the best competing watch offering an innovative vision of time measurement (in terms of technique, design, materials, etc.) and opening up new development pathways for the watchmaking art. Winner: Van Cleef & Arpels
Horological Revelation Prize 2022: Sylvain Pinaud
Chronometry Prize 2022: Grand Seiko - Kodo Constant-force Tourbillon
Young Student Prize 2022: Simon Debaz
The trophy winners were selected by a jury of 30 personalities from the world of watchmaking and the arts, helmed this year by historian, author and journalist Nick Foulkes.
“As in previous years, this Jury brings together a wide range of opinion and expertise, from across the watch industry as well as the wider cultural landscape,” said Foulkes. “I believe that the GPHG is increasingly important as a focus for international attention on the watch industry, both within the borders of Switzerland and beyond, while reaffirming the Geneva's position as the global capital of horology in the 21st century.”
A symphony of mechanisms
From TAG Heuer to Hermès, Bulgari to Zenith, this year's selection was a symphony of mesmerizing mechanisms ticking along with grace, elegance and style.
The standouts in this year’s selection are to numerous to mention.
However, several models caught our eye - even if they went home empty handed.
The multi-nominated Swiss manufacturer Audemars Piguet had a grand total of five nominated watches, in both the Ladies’ and Men’s Complication sections, as well as the Iconic, Tourbillon and Artistic Crafts shortlists.
"It is an honour to see that five of our timepieces were selected by the Jury across different categories illustrating specific expertise and skills," the company shared with Euronews Culture.
The nominations are clearly a huge honour for brands all of kinds, and Audemars Piguet are at the forefront of the nominees this year.
Whether it’s their highly stylised Code 11.59 model, limited to 50 pieces, which interweaves 18-carat white gold with blue ceramic, the gorgeous contemporary design that encases the openworked movement of their Royal Oak “Jumbo” in the Iconic selection, or the brand’s new selfwinding ultra-thin flying tourbillon movement developed over a five-year period for their Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Ultr-Thin model in the Ladies’ Complication section, Audemars Piguet’s selection is indeed a sight to behold.
"Audemars Piguet is proud to participate in such a watchmaking rendezvous, which pays tribute to the exceptional Swiss savoir-faire that has driven our industry for centuries," they told Euronews Culture.
One particular model that mesmerizes in their selected timepieces is their one-of-a-kind timepiece Code 11.59 Grande Sonnerie Carillon Supersonnerie, which boasts a multifaceted 18-carat white gold case decorated with a dedicated guilloché motif realised by Swiss engine-turning artisan Yann Von Kaenel.
Von Kaenel has reportedly reinterpreted the acoustic tonality of the chiming watch with an undulating design that evokes sound waves. To add to the mesmeric effect, the guilloché dial has been hand-finished by Swiss enameller artisan Anita Porchet with translucent enamel in graded shades of blue to animate the guilloché motif’s shimmering plays of light with each movement of the wrist.
Original offerings and the return of an icon
Elsewhere, certain designs strike a very original note.
Russian watchmaker and inventor Konstantin Chaykin’s Ladies’-selected timepiece is named Harley Quinn, after the DC Comics universe character, and reproduces the clownish features of the infamous supervillain…
Gelfman’s retro-futuristic IN-16 Nixie model in the “Petite Aiguille” shortlist looks like an explosive device that might start its countdown to detonation, with its retro Nixie tubes that bring the aesthetic of the Cold War era to the 21st century.
And then there’s the playful, 100-piece limited series offering from Hublot, selected in the Artistic Crafts selection. The Classic Fusion Takashi Murakami Sapphire Rainbow has at its colourful centre a three-dimensional smiling flower with rubies, sapphires and amethysts forming the petals. Best of all, the petals turn under the watch crystal and bring the flower to life.
But the one anomaly in this year’s GPHG shortlist comes from Girard-Perregaux.
Founded in 1791, Girard-Perregaux is one of the oldest fine watchmaking manufacturers still in operation in Switzerland today, and even for an industry veteran who has won GPHG's highest award, an inclusion in the shortlist at this year's GPHG remains a cause of celebration.
"It is a great honour to have been selected by such a prestigious competition, which we have had the chance to win several times in the past, especially the Aiguille d’Or in 2013 for the Girard-Perregaux Constant Escapement LM – And we hope to win again this year!," the company told Euronews Culture.
And they may stand a good chance...
The aforementioned anomaly is Girard-Perregaux's Casquette 2.0, in the Iconic selection.
Standing out from the more lavish designs of its peers, this iconic model feels like a blast from the past and a welcome homecoming because of the retro feel of its design.
"The Casquette was a revolutionary watch when it came out in 1976, a time when there was total freedom of expression in design, both in shape and form."
"The Girard-Perregaux Casquette had a completely new, never seen before shape. It didn’t look like your traditional watch, and could be worn as a stylish accessory. In some way, it redefined what a wristwatch could be."
The original Casquette model was only produced during a two-year time frame (between 1976 and 1978). During that period, Girard-Perregaux made 8200 examples of this innovative quartz watch, rare models that have since become collector’s items. The originals spoke to the emerging trend of using LED and digital displays that represented a radical break with the convention of two- and three-handed analogue watches.
"Moreover, the Casquette was not only a stylistic feat, but carried a technical importance too with its unique digital tubular display and a level of movement miniaturization that was unheard of at the time."
And now, this quirky piece of watch history is back, with the new, more functional model upholding the design language of the original but now encased in ceramic and Grade 5 titanium. And what better way to welcome home an icon than at GPHG, surrounded by the industry’s finest creations?
"It became iconic ever since and influenced other products in the category. Its impact can also be measured by the success of the reissued Casquette 2.0 when launched back in February this year."
The company continues to have high hopes for the model and their status within the industry.
"The high watchmaking industry is living through a virtuous circle: demand is high, and the supply is limited to the capacity of production, which is hardly flexible given the level of craftsmanship that goes into our products," the Girard-Perregaux spokesperson said to Euronews Culture.
"From a product perspective, sports watches with a vintage flair are still all the rage, but classic and dressiers designs with a strong character are making a comeback. There is also a high demand for steel-on-steel watches with integrated bracelet."
Well, it doesn't get more vintage and exciting than the Casquette 2.0... And the pandemic and its aftermath may have had some influence in explaining its popularity.
"Creativity in the watch industry, and especially at Girard-Perregaux, is an inexhaustible resource driving us every day. However, the pandemic has brought everyone back to a certain sobriety. People want to focus on the essentials by buying watches with timeless design, that are iconic or that carry a strong tie to the brand's DNA."
Stopping time with prestige
As you can tell, winning a GPHG trophy – much like winning an Oscar – is no small thing.
Time and stands still, and whether it’s pride in seeing a manufacturer’s work rewarded, the opportunity to market one’s product with one of the industry’s highest distinctions or peer recognition, Geneva has nothing to envy Hollywood when it comes to prestigious awards.
The GPHG 2022 models are being shown to the public at the Musée Rath in Geneva until 20 November. After which, the winning watches of the 2022 edition will travel to Zurich at the end of the month for a private presentation in collaboration with FGP Swiss & Alps, the main partner of the GPHG for the past three years. They will finally be exhibited for the first time in New York, from 1 to 4 December, in partnership with Watches of Switzerland.