Excellence, innovation and watchmaking expertise were duly rewarded today October 31st, 2014 at the Grand Théâtre de Genève, on the occasion of the 14th Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève —GPHG— prize-giving ceremony. The international jury of this edition 2014 of the GPHG handed out 16 prizes, including the supreme “Aiguille d’Or”, distinction, awarded to Breguet for the Classic Chronométrie model. This prize was officially presented on-stage by the Federal Councillor Johann Schneider-Ammann, who praised the vitality of the Swiss watch industry. Jointly hosted by Melanie Winiger and Frédéric Beigbeder, the ceremony was attended by around 1,500 guests including influential figures from the world of watchmaking, finance and politics, who congregated in Geneva for this annual celebration of the 12th art. This 14th edition of the GPHG registered a record participation with representation from all the major watchmaking groups as well as a number of independent companies.
The 2014 Prize List is as follows:
“Aiguille d’Or” Grand Prix
Breguet Classique Chronométrie
The Breguet, Classique Chronométrie in rose or white gold is fitted with the new manual wound calibre 574DR, which takes advantage of the latest developments from the workshops to deliver impressive rating results. This achievement was mainly due to its balance frequency of 10Hz. When it was applied for the first time in the Type XXII chronograph, this frequency was shown to have improved the time-keeping performance of the balance and spring. Breguet’s mastery of silicon enables the Classique Chronométrie to be fitted with a double balance-spring, pallet lever and escape wheel, all in specially prepared silicon that reaches the high frequency necessary for optimum precision. The result is a regulating power equivalent to around 830 microwatts, an achievement when one considers that the regulating capacity of the best chronometers is between 300 and 400 microwatts. Despite its high frequency, the reference 7727 has a power reserve of 60 hours thanks not only to the energy stored in its barrels, but also to the very high quality of its balance. However, the major innovation of this Classique Chronométrie model is without doubt the use of magnetic pivots. It is likely that the impact of this invention will not be felt for a few years yet. With the magnetic pivot, Breguet not only controls the negative effects of magnetism in a watch, but also uses magnetic force to improve the pivoting, rotation and stability of the balance staff. Breguet’s watchmakers have designed a stable system using two endstones incorporating powerful micro-magnets —approximately 1.3 teslas— that keep the balance staff centred and self-adjusting. One of the magnets is stronger than the other to create a magnetic gradient. A magnetic flux, generated within the balance-staff induces a magnetic attraction that keeps the end of the pivot in contact with the endstone.
Held in an artificial gravitational force, the balance staff is unaffected by the different positions of the watch and the conditions at each pivot remain unchanged. If a shock knocks the balance staff sideways, the system acts like a pare-chute to return it to its position, except that magnetic forces re-centre the staff to regain maximum magnetic flux. The result is a balance that is insensitive to gravity, more stable and resistant to shocks. These innovations bring the reference 7727’s average rate to -1/+3 seconds a day, well within the COSC chronometer standard of -4/+6 seconds a day. More importantly, the difference in rate between the six positions has been brought down to -2/+4 seconds a day —maximum wind.
No fewer than six patents protect these technical achievements, which represent the excellence of Breguet’s watchmaking. In tribute to the major inventions realised in the calibre 574DR, a great deal of attention has been given to the appearance of this Classique Chronométrie watch. The dial shows an off-centre chapter of hours and minutes, small seconds at 12 o'clock, a power-reserve indicator at 5 o'clock and a tenth-of-a-second indicator at 1 o'clock having a patented lightweight silicon hand with low inertia that doesn’t affect the balance. The pare-chute is visible at 2 o'clock, both as a reminder of A.-L. Breguet’s 1790 invention and to make the timepiece slimmer. Stylistic details unfailingly denote a work by Breguet. The dial is engine-turned in six patterns: “Geneva waves” in the centre, a hobnail pattern for the small seconds, sunrays on the tenth-of-a-second dial and chevrons for the power-reserve indicator. The hours chapter is cross-hatched while a barleycorn pattern decorates the outer edge. The hands are in polished steel with the Breguet open tip, while the case in rose or white gold displays delicate fluting. The welded lugs, the unique number and the secret signature complete the marks of the watch’s pedigree. The case, on a leather strap is water resistant to 3 bar (30m) and has a sapphire-crystal back to display the fine workmanship of the movement.
Technical Specifications of the Breguet Classique Chronométrie
Case: 41 mm Pink gold and 9.7 in thickness
Bracelet strap: Leather
Buckle: Folding buckle
Waterproofness: 30 m
Movement: Manual Wound with a Power Reserve of 60 hours while oscillating at a frequency of 72,000 vph.
Sticker Price 39,000 CHF. For more info on Breguet click here
Ladies’ Watch Prize
Blancpain Women Off-Centered Hour
A true anthem to femininity, this new creation is lit up with the fire of 152 diamonds. Its 36.8 mm-diameter red gold case is exalted by 108 diamonds totalling one carat. This original gem- setting composed of two interwoven rows of diamonds in various sizes echoes the emblematic double-stepped case design of the brand, while the diamond adorning the crown lends the ultimate touch of refinement. The white mother-of-pearl dial sprinkled with facetted diamonds features an off-centred hours and minutes subdial at 12 o’clock graced with 4 Arabic numerals and drop-shaped cut-out hands, while the Blancpain signature at 6 o’clock delicately highlights the retrograde 30-second indication. A wave set with subtly graded diamonds undulates on either side to ensure a perfect balance. The interior of this timepiece is every bit as beautiful as its outside, since it houses Blancpain’s new 226-part mechanical self-winding movement Calibre 2663SR, with a heart at a rate of 28,800 vibrations per hour. The sapphire crystal case-back affords a chance to admire the Côtes de Genève finish as well as the oscillating weight shaped like a five-petal flower dreamed up by Blancpain.
And to meet the wishes and expectations of every woman, this delightful complication model in the Women collection also comes in a white gold variation with a blue mother-of-pearl dial or in steel with a white dial. Each of the gold versions is teamed with a white ostrich leather strap, while the steel model comes with an alligator leather strap.
Sticker Price 30,800 CHF. For more info on Blancpain click here.
Ladies’ High-Mech Watch Prize
Christophe Claret, Margot reviewed by us here.
Men’s Watch Prize
Urban Jürgensen & Sonner Central Second
In a new variation of the extraordinary UJS-P8 detent escapement, the first detent escapement ever created for a wristwatch, the choice was made to renew and connect with the history, tradition, experience and pursuit of accuracy at Urban Jürgensen & Sønner, a quest which has been at the heart of the brand’s existence since the 18th century.
The creation of the central seconds hand is a bit more complex than using an indirect second’s sub dial, has additional gears are needed to transfer power through the cannon pinion to the seconds hand from the movement. In fact you will immediately note the motion of the second’s hand which in this case jumps in increments of 1/3 second due to the nature of the detent escapement’s special construction. This same effect can also be noted in ship’s chronometers from the same period as the founding of Urban Jürgensen’s workshop.
Sticker Price 49,000 CHF. For more info on Urban Jürgensen & Sønner click here.
Chronograph Watch Prize
De Bethune DB29 Maxichrono Tourbillon reviewed by us here.
Tourbillon Watch Prize
Grönefeld Parallax Tourbillon
The Grönefeld Parallax Tourbillon features a “flying” tourbillon with a large central seconds hand, stop seconds, a power reserve- and winding-setting mechanism indicator. The in-house movement displays sophistication and craftsmanship at the very highest level. Well-designed and impeccably executed tourbillons are particularly accurate timekeepers. The flying tourbillon allows full appreciation of the concentric, rhythmic “breathing” of the balance hairspring, while ensuring high precision. Bart and Tim Grönefeld further highlighted the tourbillon by raising it out of the movement and above the dial. As with the immaculately finished movement bridges, the tourbillon cage is crafted in stainless steel. Three days are required just for the hand finishing of the tourbillon components. The precision of the Parallax Tourbillon is evidenced by the large central seconds hand. Normally a central seconds hand requires a friction spring to prevent small fluttering caused by play in the gear train.
For the Parallax Tourbillon, the Grönefeld brothers developed the movement with an added pinion and wheel so that the energy-sapping friction spring is not required: A feature improving power transfer to the regulator and contributing to the impressive power-72-hour power reserve. In addition to the flying tourbillon and friction-spring-free central seconds, the Parallax Tourbillon has yet another innovative feature: rather than pulling the crown to set the time, which has the risk of damaging the fragile crown stem, it is pressed. An indicator on the dial displays the function selected: “W” for Winding or “S” for time setting. When the time setting function is selected, both tourbillon cage bridge and the central seconds hand automatically return to their respective 12 o’clock positions and stop —or hack— while the time is set. Bart and Tim Grönefeld only use stainless steel bridges for their movements. As well as the superior hardness and durability of stainless steel compared to standard brass or nickel, the metal absolutely gleams when polished to a mirror finish. And as stainless steel does not oxidize, the gleaming finish lasts and lasts. The Parallax Tourbillon is available in a red gold case of 43mm. The red gold model is a limited edition of 28 pieces.
Sticker Price 167,250 CHF. For more info on Grönefeld click here.
Calendar Watch Prize
A. Lange & Söhne Richard Lange Perpetual Calendar "Terraluna" reviewed by us here.
Striking Watch Prize
Hublot Classic Fusion Cathedral Tourbillon Minute Repeater
Entirely designed, developed and produced by the micro-mechanical engineers, engineers and watchmakers at Hublot, and this new Grande Complication is the result of 24 months of R&D. Fully remodelled and optimised since the first version appeared in 2010, the new Tourbillon Minute Repeater retains all of Hublot's DNA. The sapphire dial reveals the HUB 8001 hand-wound mechanical movement, with its tourbillon escapement and the Minute Repeater mechanism. Among the notable new features are the newly designed time setting function and a traditional tourbillon with its 13.6 mm diameter cage, which rotates once every minute, and boasts a highly stable construction thanks to the barrette on the dial side. The assembly of its 319 components —bridges, cams and springs, racks and hammers, gongs and snails, cage, wheels, jewels, screws— is a unique decorative element in itself, beautifully complemented by the watch's hands, which are red gold or rhodium-plated, like the case.
One of the technical feats achieved on the Minute Repeater, whose construction requires a level of expertise possessed by only a small number of manufactures, is the complete integration of the trigger piece in the left-hand bezel lug of the Classic Fusion's case. This means it is no longer an appendage - as is usually the case - but rather a cleverly integrated function which results in a watch with a particularly harmonious appearance. The power of the double cathedral chime and the exceptional clarity of its tone has already brought it to the attention of connoisseurs. Finally, the Tourbillon Minute Repeater, which has a power reserve of 5 days, is water-resistant to 30 meters —a highly complex achievement at this level, and much sought after by connoisseurs. The sound of the chime no longer relies on airborne transmission, but rather resonates through the material of the case. The watch has an aesthetically pleasing diameter of 45 mm. The piece looks beautiful in King Gold —extra-precious gold containing 5% platinum— or titanium, the two versions in which this new model is available. It is completed with a strap, with a deployant buckle, in black alligator leather sewn onto tone-on-tone rubber for comfort, flexibility and increased leather durability.
Sticker Price 230,000 CHF. For more info on Hublot click here.
Mechanical Exception Watch Prize & Innovation Watch Prize
"The EMC allows you to obtain a reliable and accurate piece of data on your timepiece at the touch of a button – information that until now has been the preserve of professional watchmakers. Using this information, you can fine-tune one of the most exciting, most jubilant mechanisms invented – the mechanical watch – all by yourself”. Felix Baumgartner
EMC —Electro Mechanical Control— is the world's first precision mechanical watch which the timing can be monitored and adjusted by the user to suit their lifestyle. EMC is a fully 100% mechanical watch and fully interactive. EMC features a deconstructed dial with 4 separate indications: —from top left— a precision indicator; seconds dial; hour and minutes; power reserve. Turning EMC over reveals the in-house movement with integrated circuit board.
Sticker Price 118,000 CHF. For more info on Urwerk click here.
“Petite Aiguille” Prize
Seiko Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 GMT
The hi-beat GMT caliber, 9S86, is new, but Seiko’s tradition in hi-beat watchmaking stretches back to 1967, when the first Seiko hi-beat 36,000 vph was launched. The new caliber 9S86 has been created on the platform of the hi-beat caliber 9S85 that has been the leading watch in the Grand Seiko collection since 2009.
Sticker Price 7,750 CHF. For more info on Seiko click here.
Sports Watch Prize
Zenith El Primero Lightweight reviewed by us here.
Jewellery Watch Prize
Bulgari Diva High Jewellery Emeralds
The Diva watch proudly proclaims its roots in the founding jewellery values of the House. A reference to the golden age of silver screen legends, Diva embodies the Dolce Vita era during which Bulgari and the world of movies were inseparable. Countless vintage photos have indeed immortalised the steady flow of film stars going in and out of the flagship boutique on the Via dei Condotti, all clearly fascinated by Bulgari jewellery. For decades and through to the present day, Bulgari has been closely linked to the most iconic celebrities.
Embodying a tribute paid by Bulgari to these timeless moments, the Diva watch collection presented in 2013 on this theme is interpreted through the many expressions of Haute Joaillerie. Drawing inspiration from modern-day divas, its captures the spirit of glamour, exalts the graceful charm and reflects the radiance of contemporary feminine icons. Each of the creations in the collection reflects the personality of the woman who, in conjunction with Bulgari, conveys a blend of glamour, charisma, sensuality and passion. The epitome of charm and femininity, the Diva watch plays with the theme of modular geometrical motifs echoing the eponymous jewellery collection. The characteristics pleats of the fan that inspired the object embrace the three-dimensional shape of a delicate corolla.
Sticker Price 620,000 CHF. For more info on Bulgari click here.
Artistic Crafts Watch Prize
One of the greatest lacquer studios of Japan, Unryuan, under the guidance of Mr. T. Kitamura, creates works of lacquer art that stand at the pinnacle of Japanese tradition, bringing a craft that has existed for hundreds of years into the present and exemplifying the passion to preserve the soul, spirit and identity of traditional Japanese culture as expressed in the Edo period. This kind of artwork made hundreds of years ago is with us still today. It can be restored and remains like new even when the lacquer is touched and manipulated by human hands. This superlative work engages us immediately on a physical level and one can only gape in awe at the commitment, patience and dedication involved in creating these works of art. The masterpiece shown here features lacquering techniques requiring well over a thousand hours of work to complete the dial and bridges. The raw materials for its creation are: Kinpun (gold dust), Jyunkin-itakane (gold leaf), Yakou-gai (shell of great green turban) and Awabi-gai (abalone shell from New Zealand).
This bespoke watch is inspired by Emerald and Jade precious stones, which is in fact what the name Hisui means. This symbiosis of Japanese tradition with the Swiss haute horlogerie creations of Kari Voutilainen represents an all-embracing mechanical and visual work of art that unites East and West in perfect harmony.
Sticker Price 225,000 CHF. For more info on Voutilainen click here.
“Revival” Watch Prize
Omega, Speedmaster "Dark Side Of The Moon" reviewed by us here.
Special Jury Prize
Breguet Classique Dame
Breguet has from its beginnings taken on the task of designing timepieces exclusively for women. The company takes pride in having had a number of prominent women among its clients, including Marie-Antoinette and Caroline Murat, queen of Naples. One of the secrets of its success with women is that it creates real mechanical movements, sometimes with exceptional complications for its female clients, instead of just adding gemstones to an existing man’s model. Breguet very soon made women equal to men in terms of watchmaking with a judicious combination of horological know-how and graceful styling.
Thus watchmaking complications designed for women, thin cases with clean dials and a refined setting of gemstones are to be expected in the brand’s collections. The Classique Dame 9068 model perfectly matches this ideal. This particularly slim watch shows the hours, minutes and seconds as well as the dates in an aperture – a function popular with women. Once again, the heart of this watch is a mechanical movement with a silicon balance spring. This is Breguet’s way of demonstrating that it gives women the benefit of the latest innovations in their watches. Taste and charm come naturally into play on an uncluttered, engine-turned dial, while the bezel and lugs are set with brilliant-cut diamonds. With its open-tipped Breguet hands in blued steel, welded lugs, fine fluting on the caseband, unique number and secret signature, this model is unmistakably a Breguet classic.
Sticker Price 25,900 CHF. For more info on Breguet click here.
After New Delhi and Beijing, the exhibition of the watches pre-selected by the jury is still on
show at the Cité du Temps in Geneva until November 2nd. In the final stage of this roadshow,
the prize-winning watches in this 2014 edition will be presented in London at the SalonQP
from November 6th to 8th. Created in 2001 and intended as an annual salute to the excellence of worldwide watchmaking creations, the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève fosters the reputation and influence of this art and its values around the globe. Values that are shared by the main partner of the Foundation of the GPHG, the Edmond de Rothschild group, which since 2011 has regularly rewarded the best young student at the Geneva Watchmaking School by awarding a scholarship.
For more info on the Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève click here.