Since its found­ing in 2001, the GPHG has flour­ished – an an­nual ex­trav­a­ganza of the world’s most im­pres­sive time­pieces, all com­pet­ing for the pres­ti­gious Aigu­ille d'Or award. Spe­cial­ist watch ex­pert and mem­ber of the jury El­iz­a­beth Do­err re­ports on this

Plaza Watch International - - Bigger And Better Than Ever - WO R D S EL­IZ­A­BETH DO­ERR PHOTO GPHG

En­ter­ing the com­fort­able room lo­cated in the heart of Geneva at the Cité du Temps, where there was a long ta­ble with 23 chairs and sev­eral glass cases filled with the 71 time­pieces pre-se­lected by the jury, neatly di­vided into their ap­pro­pri­ate cat­e­gories, I felt more than a lit­tle trep­i­da­tion. My sec­ond year par­tic­i­pat­ing in what has come to be known as the watch­mak­ing Os­cars had me spend­ing the day dis­cussing the best time­pieces of 2013 with in­ter­na­tional pop stars, art crit­ics, ac­claimed jew­ellers, some of the most leg­endary names in watch­mak­ing, and cel­e­brated de­sign­ers – in ad­di­tion to es­teemed col­leagues from the world of horo­log­i­cal jour­nal­ism.

The 71 watches we were there to judge were cho­sen by writ­ten bal­lot from the hun­dreds that had been orig­i­nally en­tered into the com­pe­ti­tion. Though I was shocked that the Louis Vuit­ton Tam­bour Twin Chrono did not make it through the pre-se­lec­tion – for me it’s one of the most in­ter­est­ing time­pieces launched in 2013 – I quickly re­alised that with a 23-per­son jury, some of whom are not in­volved in the day-to-day of the watch world, in­ter­est­ing things were bound to hap­pen.

One of th­ese was my dis­cov­ery that an in­ter­na­tional pop star could be an en­thu­si­as­tic watch col­lec­tor and a Ger­man rock icon could recog­nise rare time­pieces from a dis­tance. Need­less to say, the vot­ing process was one of the most en­joy­able ex­pe­ri­ences of my ca­reer thus far.

How­ever, since the ac­tual vot­ing is done by se­cret bal­lot and counted by an of­fi­cial, in­de­pen­dent no­tary public, the ac­tual win­ners an­nounced on the evening of Novem­ber 15 at Geneva’s Grand Théâtre re­mained un­known to me un­til the lit­tle black en­velopes with the shiny sil­ver writ­ing were opened by the pre­sen­ters and proudly an­nounced.

As one of the pre­sen­ters this year – in fact, the en­tire jury was tapped to go on­stage – I had a lot on my mind, but not so much that I couldn’t keep track of the pro­ceed­ings. Luck­ily for my nerves, the prize I had been cho­sen to present was up sec­ond on the ros­ter, so I was able to fully en­joy

the pro­ceed­ings. The first prize an­nounced was the Public Prize, which is cho­sen by popular vote from vis­i­tors to the var­i­ous world tour stops – ex­hi­bi­tions of the 71 pre­s­e­lected pieces in Dubai, Bei­jing, Ma­cao and Sin­ga­pore in ad­di­tion to Geneva – and via the In­ter­net. For me it was a great sur­prise to hear the A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Rat­tra­pante Per­pet­ual Cal­en­dar called out, as it seemed un­likely that such a com­pli­cated piece should ap­peal to the gen­eral public, as this gen­er­ally goes on vi­su­als. But, in­deed it did, and shortly there­after CEO Wil­helm Schmid was re­called to the stage to col­lect the lit­tle golden statue shaped like a hand for the Grand Com­pli­ca­tion cat­e­gory – which means that the jury also re­warded it for its com­pli­cated de­li­cious­ness. Ob­vi­ously, this watch is highly ap­peal­ing on ev­ery level.

An­other sur­prise awaited me when the CEO and cre­ative direc­tor of De­Laneau, Brigitte Mo­rina, was called to the stage to ac­cept the stat­uette for the Ladies’ Watch. It takes a de­tailed eye to note the ex­cep­tional qual­i­ties of the Rondo Translu­cent Cham­pagne, a one-of-a-kind time­piece (as a pro­po­nent of ar­ti­sanal watch­mak­ing in­volv­ing rare crafts, what De­Laneau pro­duces is unique ev­ery time) com­pris­ing a gold handguil­loché dial coated with con­tre-émail and translu­cent enamel, which is laser-cut so that the large, 0.08 carat large navette-cut di­a­mond, which the jewel ex­perts in the jury deemed ex­cel­lent, can be set into it. I can per­son­ally vouch for the beauty and high crafts­man­ship of the guil­loché and enamel, the lat­ter an in-house spe­cialty.

On the sub­ject of jew­els and enamel, the Van Cleef & Ar­pels Lady Ar­pels Bal­ler­ine En­chan­tée took the award for Ladies’ Com­pli­ca­tion, not un­ex­pect­edly Chopard took the Jew­ellery award for the L’Heure du Dia­mant, while Chanel won the Artis­tic Crafts cat­e­gory with the Made­moi­selle Privé Camélia Brodé, which boasts not only 3.07 carats of di­a­monds on the bezel but also a unique em­broi­dered dial sym­bol­is­ing the brand’s back­ground in high fash­ion.

Right from the be­gin­ning it was very ap­par­ent that the In­no­va­tion cat­e­gory would be the hard­est fought, and in­deed I had great dif­fi­culty mak­ing my own choices here, where the Gi­rard-Per­re­gaux Con­stant Es­cape­ment was pit­ted against the Ressence Type 3, An­toine Martin’s Slow Run­ner and Vian­ney Hal­ter’s come­back piece, the Deep Space Tour­bil­lon. The lat­ter, which fea­tures a three-di­men­sional, triple-axis, centrally po­si­tioned tour­bil­lon un­der­neath a highly domed sap­phire crys­tal (lend­ing it the de­sired look of a space­ship), ended up win­ning the hotly con­tested cat­e­gory. Ressence’s in­trigu­ing Type 3, nick­named Le Scaphen­drier, in no way lost out, win­ning the new Rev­e­la­tion cat­e­gory, which honours a brand younger than five years old, and Gi­rard-Per­re­gaux took home the high­est honours of the night: the Aigu­ille d’Or, which is cho­sen as a “watch of the year” by the jury.

“Right from the be­gin­ning it was very

ap­par­ent that the In­no­va­tion cat­e­gory

would be the hard­est fought.”

Geneva 's Grand Théâtre is a fit­ting set­ting for the wat ch world's Os­car s.

The De­Laneau Rondo Tra nsl ucent Cham­pagne won the Ladies' Wa tch ca tegory.

A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Rat­tra pante Per­pet­ual Cal endar , win­ner of the Public Pr ize and the Gra nd Com­plica tion ca tegory.

Van Cleef & Ar­pels ' Lady Ar­pels Bal er­ine En­chan­tée won the Ladies' Com­plica tion ca tegory

Guests of honor incl uded Swiss pres­i­dent Ueli Ma urer (in the red tie).

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