Strict rules and a jury boasting extensive expertise ensure the Grand Prix d’horlogerie de Genève deserves its reputation as the premier awards of the watch industry, writes Sean Li
Of the various awards bestowed in the watch industry each year, those of the Grand Prix d’horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) are arguably the most prestigious and certainly the most highly debated. I’ve been honoured to be a member of the jury for the past five years and while you might think that means it has become a routine event, it’s far from it; each edition brings its own unique debates and surprises.
I look forward every year to the day the jury members gather in Geneva to inspect the competing timepieces and give our rankings. All watches presented for the GPHG must be available that day so the jury can handle them in person. You can imagine that with 72 watches to evaluate— and that’s without getting into discussions for the Aiguille d’or—there is little time to spare. The day passes very quickly as we debate the merits of the watches, often calling on individual jurors for their expertise in specific areas, be it related to technical, design or historical issues, to answer our questions. We rank each watch in the main categories, ranging from six for the best to one for the least favourite. Each timepiece must receive a different score; you can’t, for example, give your specific choice for an award six points, and then the other five watches in the category one point each. The scoring sheets go to a notary, who tabulates the results and ensures we’ve done our jobs according to the rules. Following judging of the main categories, nominations are made for Revival Watch, the Special Jury Prize, and the Aiguille d’or. With a jury of more than 20 members, the judging of these prizes is seldom clear-cut. Each jury member writes only one choice for each of these categories on his ballot paper, and again the notary evaluates the papers immediately. The jury, however, is not told the results and has to wait to learn of the winners with everyone else when they are announced at the awards ceremony.
The 2016 ceremony took place in November at the Théatre du Léman because the usual venue, the Grand Théatre de Genève, is undergoing renovation.
EACH EDITION OF THE GRAND PRIX D’HORLOGERIE DE GENÈVE BRINGS ITS OWN UNIQUE DEBATES AND SURPRISES