The candidates were discussed, carefully documented and the winners unanimously selected by a jury of professionals, including yours truly, in a sitting chaired by Régis Huguenin-Dumittan, Curator at the MIH, International Watchmaking Museum. The winners, three key personalities from the watchmaking field, then received their awards, one for each of the three categories: Jean-Marc Wiederrecht for "Craftsmanship and Creation", Laurence Marti for "History and Research" and Richard Mille for "Entrepreneurship".
Discoverer of talent, decider of destinies
Since 1993, the destinies of this honorary distinction and those of the MIH and the City of La Chaux-de-Fonds have been inextricably entwined. The prize serves to highlight the human stories of personalities, whose renown has contributed to that of the entire watchmaking sector. Unlike other prizes currently awarded in the branch, the Gaïais never given to a brand or a product, but to individuals, simple human beings, for their talent, their patience, their dogged perseverance, their vision and the indelible marks they leave on past and future generations.
Since it came into existence, the "distinction of all distinctions" has unveiled personalities who have gone on to become geniuses of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, ground-breaking inventors, entrepreneurs whose impact has been heralded by the economic successes of their time, pioneers who have influenced the course of man's history in their quest to capture and harness time itself and who will long continue to do so. From the start, the awards have been free from partiality, immune to outside pressures, operating freely and without any hint of connivance. The eclectic results only go to show that this distinction extends way beyond the local territory of its origins in its efforts to commend home-grown and far-flung heroes alike.
An international reputation
The internationality of the Prix Gaïa is something that Watchonista online magazine is keen to broadcast among a readership whose passion for watchmaking historically knows no bounds or frontiers. The international outreach of this event, which has experienced a sometimes surprisingly discreet ascent to recognition, is therefore now part of a partnership programme. By means of a "key space"dedicated to the event, the "prize of all prizes", aka the Prix Gaïa, is about to reach out to an even wider audience. The "Gaïa" space you have just entered is devoted to everything connected to the award. Gradually, the windows of our timeline will open onto the very special worlds of these exceptional men and women, some now sadly deceased, who have contributed to the renown of Swiss watchmaking and who will continue to do so for all eternity
The prize-giving ceremony, conducted in the presence of Ambassador, Nicolas Bideau, head of presence Switzerland, will be held on Thursday 21 September 2017 at 6.30 p.m., exceptionally at Club 44 in La Chaux-de-Fonds, a location with a strong philanthropic past. The change of venue is due to the fact that the famous Hans Erni room, where the annual ceremony usually takes place is still occupied by the must-see exhibition "La Neuchâteloise", showing until 8 October 2017, subject to prolongation.
Official website for the Prix Gaïa, City of La Chaux-de-Fonds, MIH