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GPHG 2016: 72 watches in the spotlight

The 2016 Grand Prix d'Horlogerie in Geneva features a jury with a more feminine make-up – including the illustrious Chantal Thomas – and a trail of outstanding exhibitions for a global audience, whose vote will add one more prestigious award to the list of prizes

By Joel Grandjean

Nothing during the year 2016 will deviate from one unwritten rule: In early September, on the 1st of the month to be precise, seventy-two nominated watches will surface in the specialist media and on social networks (visit our GPHG 2016 dedicated page), six in each category, that is twelve categories in all. Please note, that in addition to the twelve winners, which will include the Petite Aiguille prize for a watch that retails at under CHF 8,000, there are two other separate prizes. One is the ultimate accolade known as the Aiguille d’Or, the highest distinction of all categories, the other the Prix du Public, which is decided by online voters and ballots delivered during the exhibitions.

Théâtre du Léman, November 10, 2016

The seventy-two watches will be heading for the stage of the Théâtre du Léman in the brightly lit insides of the five-star Kempinski hotel in Geneva. This is a world première, because the city’s legendary Grand Théâtre, with its magical lighting, is not available due to renovations.

These watches have already had the honor of being projected onto a big screen and being the butt of commentary by the comedian pair Frédéric Beigbeder and Gaspard Proust. They made it beyond the first selection stage, which this year involved one hundred and seventy watches sent in by the brands.  A veritable tidal wave, perhaps slightly thinner than 2015, but, nevertheless, still a fountainhead of passions, since about one hundred timepieces had to be removed for this sixteenth edition of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG). From now on, these four letters will be to the watch industry what the Oscars are to the world of cinema.

Many of the favorites of the Watchonista editors appeared among the chosen ones. Read and reread…  As it happens, this beautiful crop of timepieces chosen by a jury of twenty-six professionals chaired by the charismatic Aurel Bacs demonstrates that our sense as a medium is compatible with the actual feelings that govern the whole of Planet Watch, collectors and experts alike.

GPHG 2015 The GPHG 2015 took place at the Grand Théâtre de Genève

The price of independence

In 2016, twenty-nine independent watch companies seem very bent on getting their due. For them, the stakes are considerable, because even a nomination will allow them to boost their communications. So they have shown up in force.

Andersen Geneva, Andreas Strehler, Ludovic Ballouard, Bovet 1822, Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud, Christophe Claret, Credor, Czapek Genève, De Bethune, Eberhard & Co., Grönefeld, H. Moser & Cie., Louis Moinet, Manufacture Royale, MB&F, Ressence, Rudis Sylva, Seiko, Urban Jurgensen, Voutilainen, Vulcain.

The cultural and innovative wealth of these twenty-one companies is undeniable. They will be in the company of a few great monuments of economic success, of esthetic accuracy and international fame: Chanel, Fabergé, Hermès, Tiffany & Co. and – the latest on the roster of impeccable watchmaking companies – the British company Graff. And let us also note  three of the most prestigious representatives of the industry, the genuine watchmakers, Audemars Piguet, Chopard, Tudor…  Overall,  eight independent brands and expect lots of emotion!

GPHG 2015 winners The Prize winners of the GPHG 2015

Groups and power

Among the three main watchmaking groups, LVMH is the one best represented, with eleven watches from various categories. They were made either by the brands handled by Jean-Claude Biver – Hublot, TAG Heuer and Zenith – or by the companies that have traditionally more autonomy within the Group, that is Bulgari and Louis Vuitton. Then comes Richemont,  with Montblanc and Piaget, and, with two brands as well, Kering Group, with Ulysse Nardin and Girard Perregaux. The dyed-in-the-wool fans are not so happy with the absence of Patek Philippe and Rolex, as well as the largest of the watchmaking groups world-wide, Swatch, with its twenty or so brands.

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Grand Prix de Genève 2016 - interviews with two key players

By Joel GrandjeanEditor-in-Chief
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GPHG 2016: Interview with author Frédéric Beigbeder – 'I see watchmaking differently'

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