Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève announces winners of the Oscars of watchmaking

Watchmakers who create timepieces featuring superior innovation and savoire-faire are honoured annually at a ceremony in Geneva

By Debbie Hathway
Mechanical Clock Prize: Van Cleef & Arpels, Fontaine Aux Oiseaux automaton Ⓒ Supplied

The Oscars of watchmaking were presented to industry luminaries at the annual Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) awards at Théâtre du Léman in Geneva on Thursday, 10 November 2022. The jury had their work cut out as they had to narrow down the triumphant nominees to 21 recipients from a shortlist of 90 entries.

The shortlist is finetuned by the GPHG Academy, represented by more than 650 respected stakeholders from the various sectors of the watch industry, intent on celebrating and promoting watchmaking art. The winners are determined by secret ballot, under notarial supervision.

For independent watchmaker MB&F, winning can never get old. As much as CEO Maximilian Busser says they don’t make watchmaking for this, kudos to the brand for upping their GPHG awards total to nine in 17 years. “How do I feel? There is nothing to describe this. I never dreamed of this when you look at who is primed for the “Aiguille d’Or”. But this is 100 percent for Stephen McDonnell, who thinks like no one else. He’s reinvented the chronograph, and it’s of incredible beauty. It’s unique because it’s extraordinary in technology, extraordinary in thinking.”

The Legacy Machine Sequential Evo, entered in the Chronograph category, features the brand’s 20th calibre to date, powering a double chronograph that enables multiple timing settings, including split-second, independent, and lap timer modes. It’s a combination that has never been seen before in any existing chronograph.

Akrivia, Grand Seiko, Ferdinand Berthoud, Grönefeld, H. Moser & Cie, Krayon, Parmigiani Fleurier, Sylvain Pinaud, TAG Heuer, Trilobe, Tudor, and Voutilainen all won awards. Bvlgari, Hermès, Van Cleef & Arpels accepted two each. Automaton-maker and sculptor François Junod won the Special Jury Prize for his contribution to the watchmaking world.

Jewellery Watch Prize: Bulgari, Serpenti Misteriosi High Jewellery Ⓒ Supplied

The Jewellery Watch Prize went to Bvlgari for its Serpenti Misteriosi High Jewellery masterpiece, as did the Audacity Prize for the Octo Finissimo Ultra 10th Anniversary piece. The thinnest mechanical watch in the world at just 1.88mm thick comes with a unique NFT collectable piece of digital contemporary art.

Arceau Le temps voyageur delivered awards for Hermès in the Ladies’ and Men’s Complication categories. The wristwatch combines a complex measuring tool with a representation of terrestrial space in line with the French brand’s longstanding tradition of craftsmanship, technology, and the art of time.

Van Cleef & Arpels’ magnificent Fontaine Aux Oiseaux automaton richly deserved the Mechanical Clock win, while the daintily decorated Lady Arpels Heures Florales Cerisier won for Innovation. The Fontaine Aux Oiseaux is realized through 25 000 hours of craftsmanship. The time indicator? A delicate feather moves progressively along the time scale on the side of the base to indicate the hours. By contrast, the flowers on the Lady Arpels Heures Florales Cerisier dial burst open between hovering butterflies – their number is dictated by the hour, so 11 blooms indicate 11 o’clock.

Ferdinand Berthoud won the Mechanical Exception Watch Prize for the FB 2RSM.2-1. The FB RSM collection is the only tourbillon with a fusee-chain and deadbeat seconds mechanism to be COSC-certified. The latter was developed with a young apprentice watchmaker who devoted his
graduation project to it.

Artistic Crafts Watch Prize: Voutilainen, Ji-Ku Ⓒ Supplied

Voutilainen’s Ji-Ku won the Artistic Crafts Category. The dial decoration results from collaboration with Tatsuo Kitamura, one of the greatest Japanese lacquer artists. The lacquering with Saiei Makie and Somata Zaiku techniques takes several months to complete working with Kinpun (gold dust), Jyunkin-itakane (gold leaf), Yakou-gai (shell of great green turban) and Awabi-gai (abalone shell from New Zealand). It’s a visual work of art combining Japanese tradition with Swiss haute horlogerie–East meets West in perfect harmony.

Grand Seiko won the Chronometry Prize for the Kodo Constant-force Tourbillon – one of the undisputed stars of the show at Watches and Wonders Geneva earlier this year.

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