The Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève’s (GPHG) New Format Explained
The GPHG recently announced the creation of a new Academy and the introduction of an easier application system for the brands. Watchonista talks to different members of the watch community to fully understand how the upcoming 2020 edition will work.
The GPHG was founded in 2001 and has been a force in promoting the watchmaking industry on the international stage ever since. Up to 18 prizes are awarded each year in numerous categories that range from the best men’s complication to the most impressive sports watch, the finest jewelry timepiece to the most innovative design, and the coveted “Petite Aiguille” and “Challenge” categories for best value watches. And above all is the “Aiguille d’Or,” which rewards the best overall watch among all categories, also deemed the most representative of the watch industry as a whole.
Until now a jury of 30 horological experts has had the difficult task of judging the entries, but starting this year, a whopping 350 members, referred to as “The Academy,” will share the task of determining first the nominated watches, then the winners alongside a new jury of 30 members drawn from The Academy.
The GPHG Academy
The GPHG Academy takes its inspiration from the film industry and the judging process of the Oscars and Academy Awards. The idea is to open up the competition to a larger group of watch industry professionals from different areas of the horological world. It includes watch experts, of course, but also watchmakers, brand CEOs, retailers, watch collectors, journalists, and influencers from the four corners of the globe. The list is published on the GPHG website for total transparency.
A New Digital Platform
Managing the votes from 350 jury members manually would be close to an impossible task, so the GPHG has created a brand-new digital platform to enable voting to take place easily and securely online. This new system has also enabled a new step in the process where, before voting, the academicians can propose watches for the competition.
Watchonista’s co-founder Marco Gabella explains, “As a member of The Academy, we have a personal online space where we can insert information about the watches we would like to suggest for the competition. There is no fixed list of watches to choose from, which is what I find to be the most interesting. The members of The Academy can suggest models and brands in the categories they deem to be the most appropriate, according to their experience and expertise. As a collector and a watch aficionado, to be able to make my own suggestions and make a small contribution to the process makes perfect sense.”
The GPHG Academy Proposes Over 4,700 Watches
The Academy’s watch nomination proposals are designed to help the brands see which watches the academicians find impressive and help to guide them in their application process. Of course, the watch brands can choose which watches they would like to enter, but this is an additional tool to assist them.
For 2020, this round of nomination proposals has already taken place, and it was a huge success with over 4,700 watches being proposed. The GPHG has no access to the voting details, only the final results, which are verified and recorded by a notary.
In the past, brand applications were submitted as a physical file, but thanks to the new digital platform, brands can now make their submissions online. This process makes things much easier. Due to the COVID-19 situation, the date for submissions this year has been extended to July 31st, 2020. So, if there are any brands out there still contemplating their entry, there is still time. The competition is open to all brands no matter their geographical location, and each brand can submit up to seven timepieces (one watch per category). The only condition is that the timepieces must be commercialized between May 2019 and December 2020.
“The new certified digital platform for the GPHG 2020 is definitely a step ahead and a great experience to work with, in a very easy way,” shares Thierry Hess, Head of Marketing at Armin Strom. “As an independent watch manufacture, it is interesting to see which timepieces have been proposed by the members of The Academy and in which category they have chosen. This form of selection opens the door for lesser-known brands and products to participate in the first round of voting and creates some space for innovative products."
“It is an honor for us to see that a few of our timepieces have been proposed for this year’s edition by The Academy members, which represents a vast worldwide network of ambassadors of watchmaking passion,” Hess continues. “We are looking forward to the upcoming first round of voting and, we keep our fingers crossed.”
On August 25th, 2020, The Academy members will be invited to vote for the watches they deem worthy of continuing in the competition. This will be followed by the announcement of the nominated watches on September 15th, 2020.
It would be impossible to bring 350 Academy members physically together to judge the nominated watches. So, a new jury, drawn entirely from The Academy, will judge the final selections. The new jury will consist of 14 randomly chosen Academy members, and 15 Academy members selected by the GPHG to ensure there is a good mix of members, both professionally and geographically. Finally, one representative from Audemars Piguet (last year’s Aiguille d’Or winner) will complete the jury.
All 30 jury members will then get to see the watches in person during a jury meeting in the presence of a notary. In addition, all 350 of the academicians will vote online, with their votes counted towards the final results determining the winners. This jury will change each year.
The World Tour
In the past, the nominated watches undertook a world tour so the public could get a look at them. But due to the current health situation, hopes for such an operation have been dashed. However, all is not lost! This year’s nominated timepieces will be making a tour of Switzerland for Swiss people to discover the beauty of one of their most famous industries.
The Best Showcase For 2020
With the cancellation of both Watches & Wonders Geneva and Baselworld, there is no arguing that this year has been a real challenge for the watch industry. Add to this the worldwide lockdowns of manufacturers and boutiques, and watch brands have really struggled to present their new timepieces to the world. The GPHG is a great opportunity for brands to communicate with watch lovers all over the world.
“The GPHG offers, especially this year, a great springboard for the watch brands to shine a light on all the new timepieces. There have not been many occasions to see and to speak about watches this year. Our mission at the GPHG is to serve the watch industry by highlighting and saluting excellence and creativity, and we are not abandoning ship,” shares Carine Maillard, GPHG Director.
The 2020 edition of the GPHG will be its 20th award ceremony, and the plan is to have a physical show, like in previous years, at the Théâtre du Leman on November 12th, 2020. Although, obviously, there is a plan B in place if the health situation deteriorates. Whatever the situation, the GPHG will be a great place to review all the latest timepieces and see what the experts love most.
Stay tuned for full coverage of the GPHG throughout the rest of the year.