BIGGER AND BETTER THAN EVER
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
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).