GPHG 2015: Did The Jury Get It Right? Haute Time Reflects On This Year’s Winners…

Grand Prix de l'Horlogerie de Genève 2014

Watches are divisive. It’s one of the reasons we, at Haute Time, love them. But it’s not often we discuss our preferences openly. What’s the best mens’ watch of the year? The best ladies’ watch? The best tourbillon? These are questions we spend too many hours addressing amongst ourselves. Probably. So we were relieved at the idea the jury of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève would settle the debate during last week’s ceremony. Except, now we’re debating their picks. Who was a deserving winner? Who got robbed ? Haute Time’s editorial team got together to reflect on this year’s winners…

“Aiguille D’Or” Grand Prix: Greubel Forsey, Tourbillon 24 Secondes Vision
Haute Time Score: 3/4

Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Seconds Vision Watch

Arthur Touchot: Agree. I thought last year’s Aiguille d’Or winner was much more straightforward. I was really surprised to hear Greubel Forsey’s name being called last week, but I cannot think of a more deserving brand, and watch. The king of complicated, the champion of the Double Tourbillon, finally wins it with one of its most simple model. It’s good to see independent watchmaking alive and well.

Pooja Agarwal: Agree. This watch deserves the Jury’s adulation. It has it all – sophostication, slimness, classic elegance with the confidence of the tourbillon on the caseback. I love it!

Jim Shi: Disagree. Hands down, the Zeitwerk from A. Lange & Söhne is the holy grail of haute horlogerie and deserved top billing. Seemingly every brand has some version of a tourbillon nowadays, but no one comes to close to replicating Lange’s new interpretation of time–via decimal minute repeater. A spectacular marvel of design, the timepiece, for the first time, combines a mechanical jumping numerals display with a decimal minute repeater. Seven low tones, five double tones, and two high tones are struck at 7:52; the acoustic time reverberates stunningly. A daunting 771-part movement powers this beauty, which boasts an elaborate pusher system in place of a conventional side to activate the striking mechanism. As for its looks, there is no denying the jumping numerals display set against the solid-silver dial with rhodié hue and platinum case.

Victoria Townsend: Agree. A 24 second tourbillon in an inclined cage under a sapphire crystal dome on the back of the watch, with a classic elegant dial on the front and stunning craftsmanship – yes!

Men’s Watch Prize: Voutilainen, Voutilainen GMR
Haute Time Score: 1/4

Voutilainen GMR

Arthur Touchot: Disagree. The GMR is a worthy winner, a spectacular timepiece that manages to look so classical, yet so singular. But there were a few real contenders this year, and I had a really hard time settling for one pick in this category. Ultimately, I would have gone for the Galet Square, from Laurent Ferrier. It’s a watch I’ve grown to love. You need to see it in the flesh to appreciate the detailing and finishing of this watch. We’ve come to expect great watches from Voutilainen. To get that from such a newcomer as Laurent Ferrier is more surprising.

Pooja Agarwal: Disagree. Even though I highly respect watchmaker Kari Voutilainen’s work, my pick for this year would be MB&F’s HMX for it’s genuine offer from the heart to distinguish the new-age man.

Jim Shi: Disagree. While I can appreciate the craftsmanship that went into the creation of this watch, it’s not a handsome timepiece; I can’t imagine it sitting elegantly on a gentleman’s wrist. Perhaps its design is simply too similar to more established pieces offered by Montblanc and Ulysse Nardin. My vote would have been for the Piaget Altiplano 900P. Beyond being the world’s thinnest mechanical watch (thus offering a seamless transition from boardroom to black tie), it offers a capacious power reserve, is straightforward to read despite its–at first glance–complicated dial and rests in a most ideal 38mm case.

Victoria Townsend: Agree. The dial has a distinct look with lugs to match, and it is entirely hand-made in-house, including the German silver caliber. But I also like the classic looks of the Laurent Ferrier Galet Square with its eye-catching blue dial that instead won The Revelation Prize.

Chronograph Watch Prize: Piaget, Altiplano Chronograph
Haute Time Score: 3/4

Piaget Altiplano Chronograph

Arthur Touchot: Agree. I have a penchant for slim watches, and for chronographs, so naturally the slimmest chronograph in the world is a watch after my own heart. It’s beautifully executed, and deserves the recognition it received last week.

Pooja Agarwal: Agree. Deservedly a winner, I am attracted to ultra-thin timepieces and this is additionally setting a new record.

Jim Shi: Disagree. When I think chronograph, I want a watch that means business–and looks the part. The Piaget looks too delicate in this instance. There’s just not enough meat there. My vote would have been for the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Laptimer Michael Schumacher edition. A mouthful, yes, but there’s the technical prowess to back that up: the single chronograph driving two central hands that may be controlled independently via three pushpieces is ingenious, thereby eliminating the need for two or more handheld timing devices. Streamlined simplicity from a true workhorse of a watch.

Victoria Townsend: Agree. Definitely! It is still the thinnest hand-wound flyback chronograph in the world with a case measuring just 41 x 8.24. Contemporary, elegant, and easy.

Tourbillon Watch Prize: Ulysse Nardin, Anchor Tourbillon
Haute Time Score: 2/4

Ulysse Nardin Anchor Tourbillon

Arthur Touchot: Disagree. It’s close, but I think the Tourbillon 24 Secondes Vision just takes it. I never understood how the winner of the Aiguille d’Or could lose its own category. What’s up with that?

Pooja Agarwal: Disagree. My first pick would have to be the Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Vision. The Anchor Tourbillon would come second, so in this case, not the winner.

Jim Shi: Agree.

Victoria Townsend: Agree. I agree. The beauty of the deep white Grand Feu enamel dial and gold case contrast with the complexity of the technological achievements inside.

Calendar Watch Prize: Hermès, Slim d’Hermès Perpetual Calendar
Haute Time Score: 4/4

Hermès Slim d’Hermès Perpetual Calendar Watch

Arthur Touchot: Agree. It’s not often one watch gets collectors to agree. But the Slim d’Hermès Perpetual Calendar did just that when it was introduced at Baselworld. It’s been a fantastic year for the perpetual calendar. For Hermès, it’s a case of being the best of the best.

Pooja Agarwal: Agree. A slim Perpetual Calendar? As simple as that sounds, these things are difficult to combine in one. But when it happens, it is deserving of the Jury’s pick.

Jim Shi: Agree.

Victoria Townsend: Agree. Yes, definitely. The Perpetual Calendar maintains the clean, original typography and is as simple and elegant as the rest of the Slim d’Hermès collection, even when displaying the date, hours, minutes, months, moonphase and second time zone on its dial.

Striking Watch Prize: Girard-Perregaux, Minute Repeater Tourbillon with Gold Bridges
Haute Time Score: 3/4

Girard-Perregaux Minute Repeater Tourbillon with Gold Bridges Watch

Arthur Touchot: Agree. Simply put, it sounds the best out of all of the watches. I thought the A. Lange & Söhne would run away with it, but we all know the brand isn’t happy with the sound of its minute repeater yet. Which is a testament to A. Lange for wanting to be perfect. This time around, Girard-Perregaux came closest to achieving that.

Pooja Agarwal: Disagree. The A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Minute Repeater is my pick, striking in every way.

Jim Shi: Agree.

Victoria Townsend: Agree. In all fairness, I have not heard all the watches that were in competition, but among those that I did hear, this was among the clearest with the best volume. And this watch is meant to be seen as well as heard; it is a sheer beauty!

Mechanical Exception: Jaquet Droz, Charming Bird
Haute Time Score: 4/4

Jaquet Droz Charming Bird Watch

Arthur Touchot: Agree. I’m going to be boring and once again agree with the jury on this watch. Like the Slim d’Hermès Perpetual Calendar, I can imagine the debate for this category was pretty short-lived. A nice respite I’m sure, to break up the 12-hour deliberation that took place inside the Cité du Temps a few days prior to the ceremony.

Pooja Agarwal: Agree. To make a 3 dimensional automaton sing, within a tiny area is truly charming and mechanically exceptional

Jim Shi: Agree.

Victoria Townsend: Agree. Despite its imposing dimensions, I fell in love with this Charming Bird almost the instant I saw it. And when this miniature automaton-on-a-wrist moves into action and tweets ever so sweetly, it is absolutely ir-re-sist-able.

Sports Watch Prize: Tudor, Pelagos
Haute Time Score: 2/4

Tudor Pelagos

Arthur Touchot: Disagree. This was,very easily the most difficult category to call; because the watches in contention were all fantastic, but most of all because they have such different price points. How do you compare an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Toubillon to a Tudor Pelagos? I’ve got no idea. I’ll fall in the middle, with the iconic Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe, with a very cool ceramic bezel. Such a classic!

Pooja Agarwal: Agree. For the category, the jury has obviously taken into account the functionality of the watch, and I really like the new colour combination of the iconic model.

Jim Shi: Disagree. While Tudor is to be applauded for the new in-house movement developed for its Pelagos, its lack of function has my vote going to the Zenith El Primero Sport. Housing a renowned 400 B automatic chronograph calibre inside its sizable 45mm case, the new Sport model oozes form follows function: ribbed push pieces for optimal grip and water resistance to a depth of 200 meters; integrated column-wheel construction, 50-hour power reserve and 36,000 vibrations per hour precision. Aesthetically, the open caseback that showcases the mechanism coupled with the slate grey dial make it a win-win watch.

Victoria Townsend: Agree. Why not? I have not tried all these watches, and despite the fact that The Fifty Fathoms from Blancpain has proved itself for over 50 years, this new tool watch from Tudor certainly has all the characteristics to satisfy and more any serious diver. Safety elements, a COSC certified movement, and a great matt blue colour with blue luminescence for optimum readability make this a good choice.

Artistic Crafts Watch Prize: Blancpain Villeret, Cadran Shakudo
Haute Time Score: 3/4

Blancpain Villeret, cadran Shakudo

Arthur Touchot: Disagree. I know it’s a favorite among collectors and members of the press, but the Cadran Shakudo just does not speak to me. I appreciate the level of craftsmanship that goes into making that gorgeous dial. The Romain Gautier Logical One Secret Kakau Höfk is, I’ll admit, a very strange watch. But it forces a reaction, positive or negative. And that’s what Art should do.

Pooja Agarwal: Agree. Having grown-up India, I have seen umpteen interpretations of the iconic Lord Ganesha, and can say that this interpretation using shakudō pays worthy tribute, showing off the Métiers d’Art skills of the watchmaker.

Jim Shi: Agree.

Victoria Townsend: Agree. But it is difficult to select just one. Every piece shows creativity, beauty, and great technique. I think the real winner in this category is the superlative demonstration that these artistic crafts are perpetuated thanks to the brands that invest in them

Ladies’ Watch Prize: Hublot, Big Bang Broderie
Haute Time Score: 2/4

Hublot Big Bang Broderie Collection

Arthur Touchot: Agree. This category is usually a little trickier for men to judge. Which might be why the jury (composed mostly of men) leaned towards the Broderie, a watch built on the Big Bang case. Only Hublot could win the ladies’ prize with a man’s watch.

Pooja Agarwal: Disagree. Even though I admire the great craftsmanship from St.Gallen on the Big Bang Broderie, the Piaget Limelight Gala is my pick for it’s balanced subtle elegance.

Jim Shi: Disagree. Again, my vote goes to Piaget. The Hublot Big Bang Broderie, even with its feminine intricacy, still registers much too bulky and masculine for a woman with particular tastes. The Limelight Gala, on the other hand, is a well-executed update of a vintage 1973 design that, fitted with an in-house 430P movement, works beautifully in today’s times. The striking extended lugs offset the voluptuous silhouette accentuated by striking diamonds for maximal impact while remaining relatively sedate. The prominent Roman numerals also pair elegantly with the satin strap.

Victoria Townsend: Disagree. This one’s not for me. An interesting idea with the fusion of embroidered elements with carbon fibre, and the automatic mechanical movement we all deserve. But 41 x 13.5 mm is a bit big for my wrist. I prefer a ladies’ watch that is designed for ladies, such as the Piaget Limelight Gala.

Ladies’ High-Mech Prize: Fabergé, Lady Compliquée Peacock
Haute Time Score: 3/4

Fabergé Lady Compliquée Peacock Watch 2015

Arthur Touchot: Agree. Fabergé has suddenly become one of the interesting brands to follow, and much of that success is down to this year’s Lady Compliquée Peacock, whose retrograde feathers is a simple, elegant and fun complication that has men and women transfixed to the dial.

Pooja Agarwal: Agree. A jumping retrograde minute function in the form of peacock feathers and a rotating hour ring, with the addition of gemstones and diamonds just does it for me. It’s for any lady seeking a unique, yet feminine watch. Certainly, deserving of the Prize.

Jim Shi: Agree.

Victoria Townsend: Disagree. Again, not for me. I find this complication complicated to look at. And besides, a lady peacock is a peahen. I prefer the open elegance and functions of the Montblanc Bohème Perpetual Calendar Jewellery.

Jewellery Prize: Audemars Piguet, Diamond Punk
Haute Time Score: 4/4

Audemars Piguet Diamond Punk Watch

Arthur Touchot: Agree. Besides Piaget’s timepiece, this is the only one I can imagine a young woman fall for. And it’s much cooler then Piaget’s.

Pooja Agarwal: Agree. “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” crooned Marilyn Monroe in the 1953 film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. If time is witness, then this still holds strong today and this watch is proof. A worthy pick by the jury.

Jim Shi: Agree.

Victoria Townsend: Agree. Having tried on most of these pre-selected watches, I still remember the excitement when first seeing this year’s winner! Audemars Piguet certainly breaks the rules with this one!

Petite Aiguille Prize: Habring2, Felix
Haute Time Score: 1/4

Habring2 Felix

Arthur Touchot: Disagree. I couldn’t be happier for Habring2. You could tell it was an emotional night for the small brand. Co-founder Kristina Habring dedicated her win to her late father, and . But I think the room was surprised not to head Montblanc’s name called out. It was the big shock of the night. The Montblanc Heritage Spirit Orbis had it all. A gorgeous design, a well-designed in-house movement, and a unique dial. What more could we ask for?

Pooja Agarwal: Disagree. As a frequent traveller, as most of us are these days, the Montblanc Heritage Spirit Orbis Terrarum is my pick.

Jim Shi: Disagree. There’s no doubt Montblanc should have won this category with its Heritage Spirit Orbis Terrarium. Value proposition aside (although that weighed significantly with my decision), the creation of this world time function with in-house MB29.20 movement is at once both innovative and highly functional. Despite the complicated multi-layer dial construction, the times of all 24 timezones are indicated and highly visible. The fact that the rotation of the central disc changes the colours of the continents from light (day) to dark (night) is also rare to find in fine watchmaking.

Victoria Townsend: Agree. Why not? The “Habring 2 Felix” in stainless steel, largely hand-crafted with a hand-wound movement and a dial that shows the hours and minutes, with small seconds at 9 o’clock, has a clean, simple, minimalistic look that I like.

For more information, please visit the official MB&F website. Follow Haute Time on Instagram to catch all of the new releases as they happen.

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