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GPHG - Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève
Editorial - After The Final Vote

Editorial After The Final Vote

The 2020 GPHG took place under vastly different conditions, but some things stayed the same…

By this time, we’ve all had three full days to digest the results of the 2020 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG). As happens every year, there were some expected winners and some unexpected ones — but that’s as it should be. An entirely predictable voting body is not exactly the sign of a robust democratic process.

After The Final Vote

And the winners are: Chabi Nouri (CEO of Piaget), Georges Kern (CEO of Breitling), Kari Voutilainen (Owner and watchmaker), Karl-Friedrich Scheufele (President of Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud), Jean-Christophe Babin (CEO of Bulgari), Roland Enderli (Sales Director of Montres Tudor), Louis Ferla (CEO of Vacheron Constantin), Pascal Raffy (President of Bovet 1822), Patrick A. Ulm (CEO of Charles Girardier), Eric de Rocquigny (International operation and Métiers Director of Van Cleef & Arpels), Stephen Forsey (Co-founder of Greubel Forsey), David Bernard (Head of the Hand Made atelier of Greubel Forsey), Edouard Meylan (CEO of H. Moser & Cie), Gaël Petermann and Florian Bédat (Co-founders of Petermann Bédat), Davide Traxler (CEO of Parmigiani Fleurier) © point-of-views.ch

Kudos to the GPHG organisers for pulling off a live ceremony this year, which has probably (definitely) been the most challenging year in the 20-year history of the event. In full accordance with the sanitary measures outlined by the Swiss federal council, the GPHG award ceremony was held with the mandated limit of 50 people. In place of the more than 1,300 attendees who would otherwise have filled the seats of the Théâtre du Léman, a gently undulating sea of crimson balloons bore witness to the unfolding evening (I personally feel this substitute redhead audience was one of the most gratifying things I’ve ever seen). To minimise unnecessary contact, those present were spread across the theatre with generous spaces in between, and certain categories were presented from within the audience seating area, with the winners then receiving their awards on stage.

After The Final Vote

Jean-Christophe Babin (CEO of the Bulgari group), a regular at the GPHG, ended the year on a high note with the Iconic Watch Prize awarded to his Aluminium Chronograph © point-of-views.ch

While all 84 competing watches deserved their place in the final round of voting, some of the wins were frankly mystifying to me. In the days to come, I look forward to seeing some of the jury members come forward to explain their interpretation of their judging rubric, in line with the category definitions set out in the official rules of the GPHG.

After The Final Vote

Louis Ferla (CEO of Vacheron) thanking his teams and the jury for the Calendar and Astronomy Watch Prize, awarded to the Overseas Quantième Perpétuel Ultra-Thin Skeleton © nicolasliebe.ch

For my part, my approach over the past four years as a member of the jury (2017–2019) and academy (2020) has always been to score the competing watches in three areas: quality of design, mechanical excellence and novelty value. These scores take on more or less weight depending on the category — the score for mechanical excellence would outweigh the other two scores in the Chronometry prize category, just as an obvious example. A lot of it is based on common sense; the idea that a category predicated on Complication should reward watches that are more mechanically sophisticated, or that a Jewellery prize should have a jewel-dominant focus. While it’s not a perfect system, it’s a structured way to approach watch evaluation that substantially helps in making an informed vote.

After The Final Vote

François-Henry Bennahmias (CEO of Audemars Piguet), 2019 winner of the Aiguille d'Or, gave it to Chabi Nouri (CEO of Piaget) on Thursday evening. © Miguel Bueno

A hearty congratulations to the WorldTempus partners and friends who enjoyed an evening of welcome positivity and support in 2020. The big winner of the night, Piaget, with the Altiplano Ultimate Concept bagging the Aiguille d’Or, surely gave us a moment to remember as Chabi Nouri, one of the industry’s few female CEOs, made a gracious yet powerful acknowledgement speech. Breitling also walked away well compensed for their outstanding year of new products — the only thing that could possibly complete their evening of triumph would if CEO Georges Kern managed to get his train ticket refunded after all (a little joke made by the ceremony’s excellent host Edouard Baer). My favourite winners of the evening include Ferdinand Berthoud in the category of Chronometry, H. Moser & Cie. in the category of Chronograph, young brand Petermann Bédat being recognised as this year’s Horological Revelation and, finally, Antoine Simonin receiving long-overdue celebration and acclaim for his wide-ranging role in shaping our current generation of watchmakers (and, by extension, watchmaking itself).

After The Final Vote

Karl-Friedrich Scheufele (President of Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud) © Miguel Bueno

As pleased as I was for Van Cleef & Arpels in their double-category win, I find it bewildering that the most exceptional watch out of the three finalists they had, the Lady Arpels Ballerine Musicale Diamant four-note carillon chiming watch with 10-note musical comb-and-pin and an animated dial, was entirely shut out of the list of winners. On the same subject, the Greubel Forsey Hand Made 1 took the Men’s Complication prize (though a tourbillon is not a complication), but I feel the true impact of this watch will only be felt fully in the years to come, especially as it relates to the fundamental knowledge of watchmaking by hand that the brand recreated or recovered.

Après le vote final

Breitling winning the “Petite Aiguille” Prize. Breitling also won the Diver's Watch Prize © point-of-views.ch

At the end of the day, however, what is an awards ceremony without post-event dissection and analysis? Apart from the primary aim of rewarding the meritorious, the most important goal of such events is to start conversations and drive passionate exchanges regarding the things we care about. In that sense, I would say: Mission accomplished.

After The Final Vote

Already winner of the Aiguille d'Or in 2018, Pascal Raffy (CEO of Bovet) has twice taken the stage of the Théâtre du Léman to receive the Ladies' Watch Prize (Miss Audrey) and the Mechanical Exception Prize (Recital 26 Brainstorm Chapter 2) © point-of-views.ch

Discover all the winners here.

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