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Oscars 2020 - And the Oscar goes to... Watchmaking!

Oscars 2020 And the Oscar goes to... Watchmaking!

As well as recognising the achievements of the film industry, the Oscars also present us with unforgettable moments, some of which have echoes in the watch world!

The 92nd Academy Awards, which recognise the best of the American film industry, will be presented this Sunday, 9 February 2020 in Los Angeles. The event we have come to know as the “Oscars” can also be a source of memorable moments that are shared all around the world. Over the years the Oscars ceremony has enjoyed its share of comedic moments, as well as the odd mishap. We take a look back at some of them, alongside their watchmaking equivalents.

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2014: cheeeeese!

In 2014 the world was captivated by the infectious smiles of a cornucopia of stars, all posing for a selfie taken by the American television presenter and comedian Ellen DeGeneres. But US celebrities are not the only people who come together to create. Indeed, some of the biggest names in the watchmaking scene also collaborate on large-scale projects. Only Watch is a perfect example of this idea of cooperation. For this charity auction, which raises funds for muscular dystrophy, watch brands come together as one in support of a worthy cause. 99% of proceeds from the auction go towards medical research. Last year, for example, De Bethune and Urwerk joined forces to create a unique watch. The “Moon Satellite for Only Watch” fuses the codes of both houses to produce one exceptional creation, and this watch with its mirror-polished titanium case and floating lugs is a perfect example of synergy. Inside is the exclusive DBUR01 calibre, created specially for the occasion. The crown at 12 o’clock and the spherical moon phase are married with Urwerk’s signature time indication, the satellite window in an arc.

And the Oscar goes to... Watchmaking!

Moon Satellite for Only Watch © WorldTempus/Jordy Bellido

2014: « Adele Dazeem »

At the same ceremony as the famous selfie, but this time striking a different note, was John Travolta. In a comical but rather awkward scene, the actor was unable to pronounce the name of Idina Menzel, singer of the best original song, calling her “Adele Dazeem”. In the watch industry, names can also sometimes be unintentionally mangled. Indeed, there are countless models with names that are hard to say, either because of their pronunciation, or because they are very, very long. Leaving aside the brands whose names can be pronounced in different ways, like Jaeger-LeCoultre and even Breguet, some watchmakers give their timepieces names that are hard to remember. Jacob & Co., for example, demands a feat of linguistic gymnastics and superior recall with its Astronomia Maestro Gravitational Triple Axis Tourbillon Minute Repeater Carillon (which is even harder if you try to say it in a different language). This watch model name, which doubles up as a full description, is certainly quite a mouthful. But the complicated name is entirely in keeping with the complicated and complex nature of the watch itself. Unlike a traditional minute repeater, which generally produces two sounds, the carillon produces three notes, which makes the mechanism far more complex. Thus, the name of the model highlights some of the behind-the-scenes complexity of the piece. And, to take the comparison even further, the Astronomia, because of the different sounds it can make, could potentially be considered the horological equivalent of Idina Menzel, who can also produce a considerable number of notes. Okay, perhaps that’s taking it too far.

And the Oscar goes to... Watchmaking!

Astronomia Maestro Gravitational Triple Axis Tourbillon Minute Repeater Carillon © Jacob & Co.

2017: La La... what ?

The couple tasked with unveiling the best film of 2017 announced La La Land as the winner, instead of Moonlight, because they had been handed the wrong envelope. In fact, the envelope contained the name of the best actress in a leading role – Emma Stone, for her role in La La Land. The mistake was rectified a few minutes later, and the Moonlight team were called on to the stage just as the people involved in La La Land were saying their thank-yous. The Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, considered the “Oscars of watchmaking”, have thankfully never experienced a situation like this in their nineteen years. However, in a spirit of rectification and setting things right, we will mention this year’s creation of the GPHG Academy. With a view to giving the selection of winning timepieces greater legitimacy, the GPHG Foundation has created an Academy made up of several hundred people connected with the watch industry, whose combined votes will represent three jury votes (in addition to the thirty members). Additionally, every individual Academy member may nominate watches for all the different awards (in addition to the watchmakers themselves). The GPHG hopes that this will result in entries from watchmakers who have hitherto declined to take part. These new measures give the GPHG an added dimension, which is sure to enhance the legitimacy of the winning timepieces. In this way, the GPHG continues to grow, evolving its format so as to remedy any flaws and omissions.

And the Oscar goes to... Watchmaking!

Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève © GPHG

2018: Gender equality

It’s impossible to talk about the Oscars without mentioning the gender problem. In 2018, female actors used the platform to highlight issues of unequal pay and under-representation of women in the industry. Similarly, men hold the majority of prestigious roles, such as CEO or artistic director, in the watch industry. Nevertheless, efforts are being made to bring in more women. This is the case at Richard Mille, where Cécile Guénat is a leading light. As artistic director of the ladies’ watch collections, she created the brand’s first ladies’ watch (in collaboration with another woman) in 2018: the RM 71-01 Tourbillon Automatic Talisman. In 2019 she designed the Bonbon collection, which was launched at the SIHH. This collection, based around three of the brand’s iconic models, marks a break from the brand’s aesthetic codes. “The idea was to revisit existing collections, while also playing around with colour,” Cécile Guénat explains. “That helped me to bring in a more fun, more ‘pop’ side. We defined a palette of 60 colours for this unisex collection.”

And the Oscar goes to... Watchmaking!

RM 71-01 Automatic Tourbillon Talisman © Richard Mille


While the Oscars are very US-centric, there is one category that recognises achievements in the rest of the world: best international film. So, if you like to expand your horizons by watching international films produced outside the Mecca of cinema, the US, you may be equally interested in watchmakers from outside the cradle of watchmaking, Switzerland. The nominations in the “international watchmakers” category are: A. Lange & Söhne, Akrivia, Glashütte Original, Grand Seiko, Habring, Konstantin Chaykin, Kudoke, Ming Watch, Ressence, and many more! But let’s focus on the first name in the list. Originally founded in Germany in 1845 by Ferdinand Adolph Lange, the Lange name disappeared from international markets when the company retreated behind the Iron Curtain in 1951. However, in 1990 Walter Lange registered the A. Lange & Söhne trademark worldwide. 1994 marked the German watchmaker’s return, with the first collection of the new era: Lange 1, Saxonia, Arkade and the “Pour le Mérite” Tourbillon. The Lange 1, pioneer of this renaissance, was chosen to celebrate the manufacture’s anniversary last year, with the creation of the Lange 1 Tourbillon 25th Anniversary. It leaves us in no doubt that you don’t have to be Swiss to create incredible watches!

Et l’Oscar est décerné à…l’horlogerie !

Lange 1 Tourbillon « 25th Anniversary » © A. Lange & Söhne

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