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GPHG - Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève
Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix 2013 - A backstage look at the jury deliberations

Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix 2013 A backstage look at the jury deliberations

What about the new-format jury chaired by Aurel Bacs? Are there too many members, or not enough? Too many fields of competence outside the realm of pure mechanical horology, or not enough?

For the past three years, the Foundation of the Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix has attached special importance to the jury’s independence. A new step has been taken with this 13th edition, which has witness a growth in the number of members to now encompass 23, along with a broadening of their fields of expertise. After making an initial selection in July that singled out 7 watches in 10 categories, they convened on November 7th at the Cité du Temps in Geneva to choose the winners. WorldTempus met them during their lunch break.

Don’t expect any leaks from this particular pen, since no questions directly relating to the competing watches were asked. But what about the new-format jury chaired by Aurel Bacs, head of Christie’s Watches & Wristwatches department? Are there too many members, or not enough? Too many fields of competence outside the realm of pure mechanical horology, or not enough? With collectors, designers, gemmologists, watchmakers, jewellers, journalists and another passionate enthusiasts from around the world, one thing is for sure: no particular orientation asserts its own will and democracy is definitely the name of the game.

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Bagdad Café

From the standpoint of Iranian journalist Nazanin Lankarani, this day involving confronting various opinions proved extremely pleasant: “despite the varying degrees of watchmaking knowledge among the various personalities, most of whom were not previously acquainted with each other, they all introduced themselves and were able to express their opinion amid a very friendly atmosphere”. The correspondent for the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times nonetheless admitted to having been surprised by the bluntness with certain very strong views were expressed: “without giving away any names, one jury member compared a model to a paper-weight, which is pretty bold!”. As far as she is concerned, the enduring success of the watch brands stems from their ability to constantly surprise connoisseurs. Aurel Bacs agrees with her regarding the fact that everyone was prepared to listen to the comments and analyses put forward by other members, notably pointing out that the gemmologists’ expertise had been particularly appreciated by the entire jury when it came to examining the jewellery watch category.

Naturally sensitive to other aspects of the watch, French designer Philippe Starck said he had been impressed by the conceptual genius of the brains behind certain complicated watches, even though he does not personally favour an elitist approach: “ a watch must be a vibrant, magical and romantic object”. Glowing with enthusiasm at enjoying a close-up look at these 70 timepieces, the Lebanese gemstone specialist Claude Sfeir respected everybody’s opinions while making sure he was not influenced in his own choices that have been forged by the meticulous building of a 4,000-strong watch collection. For him, watchmaking owes its success to showing respect for tradition through innovation, and its future implies “a work of art with its own history”.

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For a handful of members

Slightly tempering this enthusiasm, Carlos Alonso from Mexico expressed the view that the drawback in this abundance of opinions shaped by such a broad variety of backgrounds lies in the fact that votes from members with no particular watchmaking knowledge are cast without any real relevance – however talented his colleagues might be in their respective fields. As someone who considers the timepieces competing in the Grand Prix as loyal and silent companions, the organiser of the SIAR watch show would like to see a smaller number of decision-makers seated around the table.
Whatever the case, just as after the Oscars, the Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix awards ceremony held on Friday November 15th in the Grand Théâtre de Genève will spark a number of reactions ranging from disappointment to joy and from stunned astonishment to ecstatic approval… One can be sure that all those involved will devote their best efforts to preparing the following edition with even more rigorous discipline and fair-play.

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