The Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève award ceremony is the pinnacle of the Swiss watch industry calendar, where the crème de la crème of watchmakers presents their best timepieces.
At the 2023 edition of the glittering Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG), 90 watches and clocks vied for coveted prizes in 15 categories including ladies’, men’s, calendar and astronomy, jewellery and mechanical clock.
The event, dubbed the ‘Oscars of watchmaking,’ returned following a tour of the nominated pieces in Macao, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, New York and Geneva.
Taking place in Geneva’s Théatre du Léman, the ceremony gathered together a jury of 30 experts including watch collectors, watchmakers, journalists, auctioneers and the CEO of watch brand MB&F, last year’s winner of the top prize, the Aiguille d’Or.
Nick Foulkes, historian, author, journalist and the president of the jury, said: “More than a competition, [the GPHG] is a celebration of excellence in a field that is historically, culturally and commercially significant to the city of Geneva… What is unique about the GPHG is that it offers a level playing field to all those who participate. Brands and makers unfamiliar to the wider world compete alongside some of the most celebrated names in horology.”
Here are all the winning timepieces from this year’s spectacular ceremony.
“Aiguille d’Or” Grand Prix best-in-show award
The most distinguished award at the GPHG, the Aiguille d’Or, went to Audemars Piguet for its Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet Ultra-Complication Universelle RD#4.
The new creation regroups the manufacturer’s "horological savoir-faire" into a single movement: the self-winding Calibre 1000, which counts over 1,100 components.
The jury recognised the "feat of engineering and fine watchmaking tradition" of a timepiece that incorporates 40 functions, including 23 complications, among which is a Grande Sonnerie Supersonnerie, a minute repeater, a perpetual calendar, a split-seconds flyback chronograph and a flying tourbillon.
Winners of the GPHG watchmaking awards
Here is the full list of winners of tonight’s dazzling awards ceremony:
Ladies’: 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. WINNER 2023: Piaget - Hidden Treasures
This watch re-interprets the cuff watches of the 1960s-70s, which became a hallmark of Piaget’s "audacity and pioneering fashion-focused creativity." Each cuff is hand-engraved with different patterns and textures, like the bark of a tree.
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. WINNER 2023: Dior Montres - Grand Soir Automate Etoile de Monsieur Dior
This timepiece tells the story of the birth of the House of Dior. On 18 April 1946, Christian Dior was walking through the streets of Paris when he found a star on the ground. He saw it as a lucky charm that would show him the way to creating his Couture House in the emblematic 30 Montaigne in Paris.
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. WINNER 2023: Voutilainen - World Timer
Iconic: watches stemming from an emblematic collection or model that has been exercising a lasting influence on watchmaking history and the watch market for more than 20 years. WINNER 2023: Ulysse Nardin - Freak One
This watch is decidedly unconventional. While mechanical watches hide their mechanism under a dial, the Freak has no dial, no hour hand and no minute hand. Instead, its orbital flying carrousel tourbillon indicates the minutes by completing a full rotation in 60 minutes, whereas the hour hand is replaced by a V-shaped pointer which completes its rotation in 12 hours.
Tourbillon: men’s mechanical watches comprising at least one tourbillon. Additional indications and/or complications are admissible. WINNER 2023: Laurent Ferrier - Grand Sport Tourbillon Pursuit
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. WINNER 2023: Bovet 1822 - Récital 20 Astérium
Chronograph: mechanical watches comprising at least one chronograph indication. Additional indications and/or complications are admissible. WINNER 2023: Petermann Bédat - Chronographe rattrapante
Sports: watches linked to the world of sport, whose functions, materials and design are suited to physical exercise. WINNER 2023: Tudor - Pelagos 39
Jewellery: watches demonstrating exceptional mastery of the art of jewellery and gemsetting, and also distinguished by the choice of stones. WINNER 2023: Bulgari - Serpenti Cleopatra
As the makers explain, the watch is empowered by two bold symbols. The snake, which "has been since ancient times an emblem of wisdom, rebirth and vitality, often used as a talisman," and the manchette, "a timeless piece of jewellery as it was worn on all the wrists during Antiquity and especially on the most famous one: Cleopatra’s."
Artistic Crafts: watches demonstrating exceptional mastery of one or several artistic techniques such as enamelling, lacquering, engraving, guilloché (engine-turning), skeleton-working, etc. WINNER 2023: Piaget - Altiplano Métiers d'Art - Undulata
“Petite Aiguille”: watches with a retail price between CHF 2,000 and CHF 8,000. Smartwatches are admissible in this category. WINNER 2023: Christopher Ward London - C1 Bel Canto
Challenge: watches with a retail price equal to or under CHF 2,000. Smartwatches are admissible in this category. WINNER 2023: Raymond Weil - Millésime automatic small seconds
Mechanical Clock: mechanical instruments whose main function is time measurement, such as longcase clocks and table clocks. Wristwatches are not allowed in this category. WINNER 2023: L'Epée 1839 - Time Fast II Chrome
Audacity: WINNER 2023: Maison Alcée - Persée Azur
Chronometry: WINNER 2023: Ferdinand Berthoud - Chronomètre FB 3SPC
Horological Revelation: WINNER 2023: Simon Brette - Chronomètre Artisans
Innovation: WINNER 2023: Hautlence - Sphere Series 1
Special jury prize: WINNER 2023: Vincent Calabrese and Sven Anderson of the Watchmaking Academy of Independent Creators
Best Young Student: WINNER 2023: Kylian-Douglass Thieulot
A few standout themes dominated the nominations - and winners - of this year’s awards. One trend gripping the fashion and the watchmaking industry is “quiet luxury.”
Jean-Christophe Babin, CEO of Bulgari which had some strong entries this year, told Euronews before the ceremony that the muted economic landscape might be responsible.
“Quiet luxury seems to be, today, more accepted than provocative luxury,” he said. “Probably some jury members will be following fashion and vote for watches that are more discreet.”
The Italian jewellery and watch house was nominated in the Tourbillon, Jewellery and Petite Aiguille categories.
Independent brands, which have reportedly grown in popularity in recent years, also made waves on the GPHG shortlist, as evidenced by the special jury prize for the founders of the Watchmaking Academy of Independent Creators.
Grönefeld, a Dutch brand run by two brothers, was nominated for its first-ever sports watch.
“We want to target younger people with a more active lifestyle so we thought this is the moment to go for a watch that you can wear every day,” explains Bart Grönefeld, co-owner of Grönefeld.
The 1969 DeltaWorks watch has been designed to impart information in a clear, intelligible format. The dial features a frosted salmon surface with blue, luminous hour markers. The orange rubber strap pays homage to the brothers’ homeland.
Grönefeld says it was important for them to also retain brand signatures such as fine, decorated finishings. “Luxury brands, when they make a sports watch, usually they make the movement more industrialised, but we have chosen to keep traditional hand finishing inside our sports watch.”
Another independent brand to watch at this year’s ceremony is Bovet, which was nominated in three categories.
The Récital 27, nominated for Men’s Complication, features Bovet’s signature “writing slope” case that tilts up at the back, requiring less tilt from the wearer’s wrist to see the time while also displaying three time zones and the moon phases.
Also from the Récital collection is the Astérium watch which won the Calendar and Astronomy category. Pascal Raffy, CEO of Bovet, said: “The Astérium is one of the major watchmaking realisations of the house.”
It displays an engraved map of the night sky, a chart of the planets, the signs of the zodiac, moon phases, solstices, equinoxes, and a sidereal calendar (which documents the exact orbit of the Earth around the sun rather than the Gregorian calendar which has to factor in leap years to synchronise with the astronomical year).
Nominated in the Tourbillon category, the Virtuoso XI is Bovet’s first full skeleton timepiece, which showcases the full mechanics of the piece. Raffy describes it as a simple watch that highlights the “quintessence of craft”, emphasising the 60 hours of hand engraving that go into each piece and the “writing slope” case and bow which are both patented by the brand.
Although watchmaking is still heavily focused on the male market, things might be changing. A 2022 Deloitte report on the Swiss watch industry found that 49 per cent of brands surveyed said they were expanding their range of female watches from a design perspective and one-third plan to offer additional sizes to appeal to female watch wearers.
Beauregard, one of the only independent watchmakers that specifically caters to women, was nominated in the GPHG Ladies' category this year.
Founder Alexandre Beauregard launched the brand's first watches in 2018 after many years of development, initially starting with watches aimed at men but soon finding his passion lay in more feminine designs.
"I did a full collection for men. we had the website ready, we had the photo shoot, we had 10 watches but I was not happy with it, so l shelved it," says Beauregard. "I started working on our Dahlia watch, with petals all around (the dial). That very round, flower shape; I wanted to do those kinds of shapes. It's the stones, it's the shapes, it's the way they work together. And of course, it's very feminine.
Another eye-catching timepiece, which won the Jewellery category, is Bulgari’s Serpenti Cleopatra. The pink gold cuff is decorated with colourful fine stones and a subtly placed watch face at the centre which pays homage to the brand’s legacy for creating “secret watches” (where a watch is disguised in a jewellery piece).
It also draws inspiration from Cleopatra’s historic visit to Rome (the home of Bulgari) and the serpent bracelets she wore.