It was the year that new-age watchmakers were honoured alongside established names, at the 18th annual Grand Prix D’Horlogerie De Geneve (GPHG), the world’s premier watch awards event, which took place in Geneva last month. Brands such as Akrivia, Laurent Ferrier, Singer and De Bethune received top honours, as did storied manufacturers like Greubel Forsey, Vacheron Constantin, Seiko and Hermès.
The jury, consisting of 29 respected experts from across the world, chose the winners from a total of 17 different categories. In all, 72 watches were in final contention, after a roadshow that visited Venice, Singapore, Hong Kong and Geneva.
BOVET 1822 RÉCITAL 22 GRAND RÉCITAL
This remarkable timepiece is the third chapter in the watchmaking narrative begun by Bovet two years ago, with the Récital 18 Shooting Star tourbillion and Récital 20 Astérium. The sun, earth and moon are encased in a TelleriumOrrery, with the sun represented by the flying tourbillion at 6 o’clock. The hemispherical earth rotates on its own axis and shows the hours on a natural 24-hour cycle, while a spherical moon orbits the earth according to the exact length of its synodic period, which is 29.53 days. The watch comes in a 46mm case in either red gold or platinum, with over 9 days of power reserve. It is limited to 60 pieces.
MEN’S WATCH OF THE YEAR
AKRIVIA CHRONOMÈTRE CONTEMPORAIN
This watch, named Rexhep Rexhepi after the brand’s founder, is available in white or with a black grand feu enamel dial with Art Deco-inspired asymmetrical gold or blue lines. The large diameter of the sub-seconds counter at 6 o’clock is a tribute to the officer’s watches of the 1940’s. The watch is certified by the Besançon Chronometer Observatory and indicates the hours, minutes and seconds. The movement features a stop seconds and the zero-reset mechanism to allow a precise time setting. The winder has a click ratchet inspired by old pocket watch winding mechanisms. The watch, with a power reserve of 100 hours, comes in a 38mm case and is waterproof to 30 meters.
COMPLICATION WATCH OF THE YEAR
LAURENT FERRIER GALET ANNUAL CALENDAR SCHOOL PIECE
With its date and month fast-adjustment by simply turning the crown forward and backward, this new timepiece is extremely functional. The watch displays the days, the date and the month with both 30 and 31 days; the only adjustment required is once a year, on 1st March. The date is indicated by a central hand and the days of the week and the months in two bevelled apertures. The days of the week are updated by pushing the button integrated on the left. All the other adjustments are made by pulling and turning the crown. Two gold (red and desert-sand yellow) and a steel edition will be available, with the dial in silver-toned or slate-grey. The power reserve is 80 hours.
CHRONOGRAPH WATCH OF THE YEAR
SINGER TRACK1 HONG KONG EDITION
This watch comes in a lightweight black version with orange accents, encased in high-performance ceramic aluminium crafted by electro-plasma oxidation. The case has scratch, wear and corrosion resistance. The crown and pushers are fashioned out of grade 5 titanium. Their surface is treated with black DLC coating. The chronograph hours, minutes and seconds are coaxially mounted in the center of the dial, and the time is presented in relief around the periphery of the dial. The 3×60 display (60 seconds, 60 minutes, 60 hours) is exclusive to Singer. It comes in a 43mm case, with a 60-hour power reserve, and is limited to 50 pieces.
MECHANICAL EXCEPTION WATCH OF THE YEAR
GREUBEL FORSEY GRANDE SONNERIE
This is the most complex watch ever made by the firm, a result of 11 years of intensive R&D. Consisting of 935 parts, it comes in a 43.5mm titanium case. The titanium acoustic resonance cage was developed inside the caseband, to provide the loudest possible volume. The crystalline strike is transmitted thanks to one-piece double cathedral gongs – on three levels and respectively sounding high and low notes – that are visible through the tourbillon’s lateral window. While the movement is manual-winding, the striking mechanism also features an automatic winding system by way of a platinum oscillating weight. The Grande Sonnerie strikes the hours and quarters in passing, while the Petite Sonnerie sounds the full hours in passing. A Silence mode can be activated via a pusher. On demand, a minute repeater and its additional mechanism strike the time to the exact quarter and minute. The Tourbillon 24 Secondes uses fast rotational speed and an inclined angle to solve the problem of the oscillator’s critical positions in relation to gravity. The power reserve is 72 hours, and 4 to 5 pieces per year will be made.
CHRONOMETRY WATCH OF THE YEAR
DE BETHUNE DB25 STARRY VARIUS CHRONOMÈTRE TOURBILLON
A wristwatch is subjected to a considerable amount of environmental forces, and must be extremely precise in terms of its movement. The De Bethune DB25 is equipped with a titanium balance wheel, optimized for temperature changes and air penetration, and maintains a perfect centre of gravity. An oscillator operating at a frequency of 36,000 vibrations/hour enables the 63-part tourbillon to achieve an accuracy corresponding to +/-1 second per day. At 0.18 grams, it’s one of the fastest and lightest tourbillons in the watch industry. The 42mm case is in polished titanium, with a blued titanium and gold stamped dial personalised according to a date or geographical location. The power reserve is 96 hours.
ARTISTIC CRAFTS WATCH OF THE YEAR
HERMÈS ARCEAU ROBE DU SOIR
This 41mm watch has 2,200 tiny, juxtaposed leather squares on its dial, forming a horse profile inspired by the Hermès “Robe du Soir” silk scarf, designed by Florence Manlik in 2018. Set against an electric blue backdrop with matching strap, the colourful fragments are lit up by the rose gold glow of the case. 3,500 tesserae are finely cut out from carefully selected full-grain calfskin. Subsequently, 2,200 leather fragments compose the equestrian motif. The slender hours and minutes hands are driven by a selfwinding Manufacture Hermès movement that can be admired through the sapphire crystal case-back. This is a 12-piece limited numbered edition
SPORTS WATCH OF THE YEAR
SEIKO PROSPEX 1968 DIVER’S RE-CREATION
Like the original 1968 Hi-Beat diver’s watch, this features a one piece case construction and a flat case back. It incorporates Caliber 8L55, which was specially designed for diver use. A dual curved sapphire crystal ensures high legibility, and the strap is made of high strength silicone. The markers have polished edges and those at 12, 6 and 9 are different in design, to ensure that time is read without error even 300 meters down. The 44.8mm watch is offered in a limited edition of 1,500, with a power reserve of 55 hours.
PETIT AGUILLE WATCH OF THE YEAR
The in-house movement A11 in this 42mm watch is the only manufacture calibre made in Austria to date. Besides the splitsecond movement and the metallic look, the watch also has a date module, indicated by means of a hand (the fifth hand of the Doppel) pointing from the centre to clearly discernible, large date digits located on the new, raised date ring at the edge of the dial. There is also a version with a tachymeter and telemeter scale, in place of the date indication. It is available in Satin Silver or Grey/Anthracite and rose gold hands and hour bars. The two push-buttons (start-stop zero at 2 o’clock and split hand at 10 o’clock) have been joined by a recessed pushbutton at 4 o’clock, which triggers the date indication. The power reserve is 48 hours.
CHALLENGE WATCH OF THE YEAR
NOMOS TANGENTE UPDATE
Tangente has been a bestseller for Nomos since its introduction over 25 years ago. Its classic, clean design, angular form, and unmistakable typography have become synonymous with the brand. This update, at under 41mm, has grown in size but remains slim. The date ring encircles the dial and features two red dots, which frame the current date. The date can be set either forwards or backwards with a half-turn of the crown. The date changes within a very short time period and features a locking mechanism. The caliber features integrated shock protection to ensure accurate timekeeping at all times. The watch is waterproof to 50m and has a 42 hour power reserve.
REVIVAL WATCH OF THE YEAR
VACHERON CONSTANTIN HISTORIQUES TRIPLE CALENDRIER
1942 With their calendar function, round case with triple gadroons, two-tone dial, “claw-type” lugs and mechanical manual-winding movement, the new Historiques Triple calendrier 1942 is reviving a typical Vacheron Constantin complication and style from this era. The 40mm diameter case crafted in the Vacheron Constantin style features a number of character traits typical of the era, such as the distinctive “triple gadroon” caseband bearing “claw-type” lugs. This elegant model drives the hours, minutes and small seconds at 6 o’clock, along with hand-type date and day and month by aperture. The calendar indications appear in a choice of burgundy or dark blue, on a two-tone silvered dial typical of the era. The sunburst satin-finished centre and the outer zone punctuated by Arabic numerals clearly enhance the legibility of the respective functions. It has a 65 hour power reserve.
INNOVATION WATCH OF THE YEAR
KRAYON EVERYWHERE HORIZON
This 43mm watch achieves something unprecedented in watchmaking: a universal mechanical calculator that gives the exact sunrise and sunset times. The outer dial materialises the whole day, with its 24 hour scale. Sunrise and sunset times are read on it where the day and night sectors meet. As the seasons change, or at different locations, the number of daylight hours lengthens or shortens. The blue arrow, indicating the hours on this same dial, describes the path of the sun as it travels through the sky. The calculations are based on latitude and longitude, the UTC time zone, and the date and month. The watch’s wearer sets each one as required to then see the precise hour at which the sun will appear and disappear, in the place of his choice and on the day he wishes. The case has a bezel set with 70 baguette diamonds; the lugs are also set with 24 baguette diamonds. The watch is mounted on a black alligator strap with a white gold pin buckle. It has a power reserve of 80 hours and is limited to a single piece.
AUDACITY WATCH OF THE YEAR
KONSTANTIN CHAYKIN CLOWN
The Russian watchmaker and inventor Konstantin Chaykin was inspired by the hit horror film It, and this watch is the result. All the details of the clown – the brightly coloured pupils and the red elements of the dial – are reminiscent of the titular character from the film. The look on the clown’s face changes every minute, due to the work of the proprietary module with a two-disk current time display (hours and minutes are the pupils, with yellow iris’), and the moon phase indicator is a smile (it can be corrected with the help of a correction pusher which is set on the left side of a 42mm steel case). The Clown watch is available in stainless steel and is limited to 27 pieces.
SPECIAL JURY PRIZE
A legend in the world of watchmaking, and most recently the president non-executive of the LVMH Group Watch division, and chairman of Hublot & Zenith, Biver was presented the Special Jury Prize for his distinguished 45-year career in the industry. He began his career at Audemars Piguet and has worked at brands like Omega and Hublot, and once owned Blancpain, which he subsequently sold to the Swatch Group. At Omega, he was instrumental in tying up with the James Bond franchise, as well as engaging celebrity endorsers, such as Cindy Crawford.