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GPHG - Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève
GPHG 2017 - Tourbillon and Escapement category

GPHG 2017 Tourbillon and Escapement category

Every entrant is obliged to make a real effort to compete in this hotly disputed category, staking everything on creativity, record-breaking performance and exquisite workmanship. And this makes the selection all the more fascinating.

Competition in the tourbillon watch category (which also includes what we might call “unusual” escapements) is very fierce, indeed. The tourbillon is an omnipresent complication at the very top end of watchmaking, where it reigns supreme. This means that, in order to stand out and capture the attention of the jury of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, watchmakers have to seriously up their game. As well as demonstrating horological literacy, there also has to be an element of creativity, plus high performance. In other words, the watch must be anything but run-of-the-mill.

One strategy is to beat records, an approach that Bulgari has espoused for several years. The Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Skeleton is the open-worked version of the world’s slimmest tourbillon. By removing all superfluous material and eschewing a dial, the watch remains as slender as a leaf, measuring just 5 mm. A flying tourbillon is a given, as this construction method can shave a few millimetres off the depth. The Octo’s trademark angular, modern lines, a contrast with the majority of other watches, take centre stage.

There is also a notable trend for combining cutting-edge techniques with traditional design elements. The Mobilis by Louis Moinet uses a suspended double flying tourbillon with off-centre hours, set inside a round case with open-worked lugs and exquisitely decorated surfaces. The hours dial is cut out in a two-tiered spiral design, the chapter ring is sloped inwards and decorated with a clous de Paris motif, and the tourbillon bridges and hands are picked out in eye-catching bright blue.

Tourbillon and Escapement category

The Mobilis by Louis Moinet © Louis Moinet

The Offshore takes this approach to its logical conclusion. The most sporty of the Royal Oak variants is no stranger to ultra-complicated versions such as this Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph. This new skeletonised model makes the most of the interplay of angular shapes, horological finishes of the highest calibre, and a macho appearance. The time-tested movement construction is exemplary, while the execution with titanium case, black DLC movement and orange accents gives it a distinctly high-end commando vibe.

Tourbillon and Escapement category

The Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph by Audemars Piguet © Audemars Piguet

But there’s still room for classical styling. At first glance the Marine Tourbillon by Ulysse Nardin looks conservative and understated. With its Roman numerals and tourbillon at 6 o’clock, even clad in its Marine livery, there is nothing here to upset a traditionalist. Except, the movement that drives it is an automatic in-house calibre with a manufacture silicon escapement and a 60-hour power reserve. The finishing touches are a flying tourbillon and a grand feu enamel dial – the epitome of watchmaking tradition.

Tourbillon and Escapement category

The Marine Tourbillon by Ulysse Nardin © Ulysse Nardin

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