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GPHG - Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève
Editorial - Let The Competition Begin

Editorial Let The Competition Begin

Nominations are now open for the 2020 edition of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève.

The inaugural outing of the Academy of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) takes place in an extraordinary time. In any other year, we would have the biggest watch fairs of the year already behind us. We would have had the chance to check out the new timepieces of the year in person, to handle them, try them on, swap thoughts with other industry colleagues in an organic way. 

The new process involving the GPHG Academy is for members to submit nominations for the various competition categories via a secure online platform. Previously, the onus was on watchmakers to submit their own watches for consideration, which was a straightforward system, but also had its downsides — it skewed towards the independent brands who stood to gain the most from the exposure and a potential win, and several highly meritorious watches were excluded from the competition simply because the relevant brands had opted not to participate.

Drawing nominations from a pool of just over 300 Academy members not only brings diversity to the nominated watches, it offers watchmakers valuable insight on which of their creations resonate well with audiences. Of course, they always had feedback in terms of sales response and retailer/press comments during trade fair presentations, but let’s be realistic here — not every response given while closeted in a tiny room with brand representatives is going to be 100 per cent undiluted honesty. As a member of the GPHG jury over the last three editions, I was avidly looking forward to the advantages that the new Academy system would bring.

This year, however, we have fewer watch debuts. Some highly significant brands have not presented new collections at all this year — winners of previous years’ competitions such as Chopard, Audemars Piguet and Tudor have been relatively quiet this year in terms of new releases. And the new watches that have been released have had very little opportunity to be experienced in person.  

So far, the 2020 edition of the GPHG is facing the combination of an untested system and an unprecedented time. How will we, the inaugural Academy, address this?

Here’s my optimistic take on things. The first year of any new system is always going to have issues. No one expects to launch a completely new system and have it work perfectly right from the start. In a way, it could be a blessing that the GPHG Academy is operating for the first time in a year of diminished releases. The famous motto of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg — “Move fast and break things” — could work in everyone’s favour, so that any kinks in the new GPHG system get worked out before our industry really roars back to life (fingers crossed!) next year.

I’ve also taken the chance to launch an open invitation to all Academy members to join me for a videoconferencing chat, to discuss nominations and raise awareness for watches that others might not have considered before. In previous years, frank discussion and exchange of ideas was always encouraged, although every jury member ultimately had the right to cast a secret ballot. This year, for all its travails and troubles, has at least taught us all to be familiar with videoconferencing software. The three times that I served on the jury of the GPHG, the only time I could count on speaking with a group of my fellow jury members was during the final vote. As with so many other things in 2020, that’s changed now. Let’s make this change count.