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Call for nominations for the Gaïa Prize 2017

March 21, 2017 is the deadline for submitting nominations for the 23rd edition of this watchmaking distinction. Nicknamed the “Nobel Prize of Watchmaking,”the Gaïa is the most independent of all watchmaking awards. It distinguishes personalities in three categories.

By Joel Grandjean

For a few more days, still, anyone can send in a nomination of their choice to the organizers by snail mail. The three categories are History-Research, Craftsmanship-Creation and Entrepreneurship. 

International Watchmaking Museum –  La Chaux-de-Fonds

Faces and names, no brands

One has to be careful about writing up a candidate. You have to first check the list of prizewinners since 1993, because you can only win a Gaïa once in a lifetime. When the awards are being bestowed every September, there are neither watches nor brands visible on the stage at La Chaux-de-Fonds. Only individuals and personalities have been rewarded since 1993 with what we can safely be called the highest distinction in watchmaking. It’s an open secret, the prize is indeed granted to the best of the best, its history and the list of former prizewinners speaks for itself. Today, it represents the non plus ultra of watchmaking recognition in connection with time and its measurement

The organization behind the prize, the Musée international d’horlogerie (International Watchmaking Museum, or MIH) in La Chaux-de-Fonds is strictly neutral and independent. They proceed by submitting a selection of nominations that come from the public – including from the whole world of watchmaking -- and that often document the careers of individuals that have been suggested by third parties. Quite often, the candidates don’t even know who their benefactor was until the eve of the awarding.  So if you are active in the sector or just an observer on the sidelines, you can give voice to your admiration for one or several actors in the watch industry by sending in a nomination. The aim is to see to it that that person or persons is honored and recognized. 

Gaïa Prize

Visionary, clairvoyant and maverick

Many of the prizewinners represent a concentrate of the genius and talent watchmaking has to offer, and they received their award well before the industry at large and the sector paid attention to them and recognized their stature.   Today, some of them have emerged from the shadows. Back in the day, when they were being honored by the Gaïa, their names were not necessarily widely known. All, including those who still haven't earned the recognition of the public, have devoted, or continue to devote, their energies to watchmaking. Their contribution, their work, indeed, their careers are industry references and their actions or creations will leave a permanent trace. In the Craftsmanship-Creation category, for instance, we find Jean-Claude Nicolet, François-Paul Journe, Michel Parmigiani, Vincent Calabrese, Philippe Dufour, Derek Pratt, Georges Daniels, Anthony G. Randall, Beat Haldimann, Kari Voutilainen, Andreas Strehler and – the last watchmaker to be recognized – Vianney Halter (see out portrait). In the Entrepreneurship category, evidence that the Gaïa does cultivate a fierce spirit of independence, it has singled out entrepreneurs like the late Günter Blümlein (read our portrait), the late Nicolas Hayek Senior, Franco Cologni, or Philippe Stern, as well as the heads of companies that are involved in supplying the industry or the head of one – far less publicized –  specialized in atomic clocks

Vianney Halter

The Gaïa Prize was launched as a tribute to one of the first patrons of the Watchmaking Museum, Maurice Ditisheim, who was president of the board of directors of the Central Office for Precious Metals Control. Today, it still identifies tomorrow's milestones, it sets up the references.

The prize-giving ceremony of the Gaïa prize will take place on September 21, 2017, at the Club 44, rue de la Serre 64 in La Chaux-de-Fonds.


Download the Gaïa Prize 2017 rules

Please send nominations to:

Musée International d'Horlogerie
Case Postale 972
CH-2013 La Chaux-de-Fonds

Visit our special page about The Gaia Prize on Watchonista

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