Dubai Watch Week: GPHG Announces New Inclusive Academy Format For 2020

Dubai Watch Week: GPHG Announces New Inclusive Academy Format For 2020

It’s been an eventful year for the watch industry, but the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) has just announced an initiative that is meant to unify the watchmaking community.

By Rhonda Riche

On November 7th at the 2019 edition of the awards in Geneva, Raymond Lorétan, President of the GPHG Fondation, announced a new concept for an international watch industry Academy. The goal of this initiative is to encourage openness and innovation by inviting stakeholders from all aspects of the industry and from all around the globe to select and vote on the world’s top watches.

But how will the Academy impact the existing Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève Awards? To find out, Watchonista travelled to Dubai Watch Week, the platform for the official Academy launch.


The GPHG is the only globally recognized independent international awards for excellence in watchmaking, so it matters that it isn’t just cloistered away in the Canton of Geneva. In fact, the organization has been visiting Dubai since 2013. At this year’s Dubai Watch Week, they held an exhibition of the competition’s prize-winning models for enthusiasts, clients, journalists, and collectors (the show also travelled to Sydney, Bangkok, Mexico City, and Puebla).

At the GPHG awards in Geneva, Lorétan stated to all assembled that the mission of the foundation is to promote the art of watchmaking and its values throughout the world in a unifying spirit, guided by the principles of neutrality, independence, and universality. This is why it’s important to have platforms like Dubai Watch Week because the industry has to consider all geographic regions and the market strengths of each area.


For almost two decades, the GPHG has been honoring horology with its annual awards. The Fondation which organizes the event was founded by the Republic and Canton of Geneva, the City of Geneva, the Musée international d’horlogerie in La Chaux-de-Fonds (MIH), the Geneva Laboratory of Watchmaking and Microtechnology (Timelab), and the Edipresse Group. Until now, the founding members (with the exception of the Edipresse Group) would consult a Committee culled from experts from the profession to advise the Fondation, particularly with regard to jury composition. 

The new Academy would be composed of several hundred members, all significant stakeholders in the main sectors of the watchmaking industry. These members would be divided into colleges and tasked with proposing which models would be eligible for competition. They would also take part in the various votes to select the winners.

The GPHG has always touted itself as the Oscars of watchmaking and these changes are not that far off from how the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences operates. There, film industry professionals are broken up into different branches (Actors, Directors, Producers, Art Directors, etc.).

At the Oscars, studios have a say by choosing the movies that are selected for consideration. And for the GPHG's, the traditional entries will still be made by the brands themselves although outside proposals and remote votes will be done via a certified secure digital platform.  

In addition, a jury of 30 Academy members will be appointed each year to meet in Geneva behind closed doors under notarial supervision to physically evaluate the pre-selected watches and proceed to the final vote by secret ballot. The vote of the entire Academy will count towards determining the prize list.


The GPHG is wasting no time in setting up the Academy. The foundation will begin approaching potential Academy members in January 2020. After that, in 2021, new members will be able to join the Academy by sponsorship. The list of members will be published on the GPHG website.

Again, one of the goals of the Academy is to make the process more diverse and transparent. The Academy will be a globetrotting group representing a wide variety of backgrounds including experts, collectors, journalists, historians, and retailers.

In Dubai, Watchonista asked Hind Abdul Hamied Seddiqi, Director General of Dubai Watch Week, about her feelings about the Academy. “GPHG for us has always been an important part of the ecosystem of preserving the mandate we both share,” she said, “which is education and appreciation of craftsmanship. So, it's important for them to take this step.”

And by expanding its borders beyond Switzerland, the GPHG hopes to the creation of this large-scale Academy will only enhance the worldwide reputation of the watch industry. 

(Photography by Watchonista)

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