INTERVIEW WITH CARLO LAMPRECHT – PRESIDENT OF THE GRAND PRIX D'HORLOGERIE DE GENÈVE
Tell us about the history of the Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève?
– The Grand Prix started in 2000, it was two journalists who initiated that project… at that time I was President of the Government and gave my full support for the Grand Prix because it was a promotion for Geneva, for Switzerland, and also the art which was born in this country. When did the event begin to travel worldwide?
– In 2010 there were some complications, people were protesting about the members of the jury and there was some commercial interest in that Grand Prix, so the idea of a neutral foundation was formed, it had to be neutral and I was the president of that Foundation. When I was in charge of that foundation I discovered there was no roadshow, so those watches stayed in Geneva and were not exposed to the world. With the media influence that was taking place and getting bigger and bigger at that time, I recognised that the watches needed to be shown to the world, and from that day I had the idea of the roadshow to take the watches to the biggest cities of the world to promote new brands and stimulate watchmakers into always doing something better. How is the tournament structured?
– In the exhibition you see 70 watches that are classified into 10 categories, the categories go with the functions of the watches or follow the specialties of the watches. The jury is formed from 22 members from 14 different countries and the members of the jury change or are modified, with 30-40 per cent of the jury changed on a yearly basis. How do you decide where to showcase the watches?
– The roadshow travels to different countries and what we look for in the countries is facilities, everything has to be within easy access and one of the major issues is security because we have to travel with 70 watches and they are extremely precious. In the past three years we have been to Hong Kong, Shanghai, Moscow and Paris and in this year alone we have already been to Beijing, Macau and now Dubai. After the winning watches are chosen, the 15 watches go and do an exhibition in a different country, this year it will be held in Singapore. How do you feel about how the GPHG has evolved?
– We had a great ambition and we have made this ambition a reality when we acclaimed watchmaking as an art. It is an art; it could be in a technological way, innovative way or through design. This year the members of the jury were chosen because they had some connection with art, not always a direct connection but something that is related to the art. It is a mission that the Grand Prix has taken to educate and that’s why we have included workshops with collectors speaking about what to look for and how to participate in an auction, this is very important for two reasons; firstly, for the culture we need to show people why watches are so expensive and why despite being expensive people still want to buy them. And secondly, to show the work that is behind those watches and the complications and time that people dedicated to make those watches complete with the enthusiasm behind making the watches. The most important thing is time and it is valuing that time.