Defin­ing Ex­cel­lence

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

Hong Kong Tatler - - Style | Watches -

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.


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