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GPHG - Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève
GPHG - Ladies’ High-mech

GPHG Ladies’ High-mech

Just seven watches are in the running for the category focusing on mechanical wizardry in women’s watches. Here are the candidates.

According to the rules of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, the two criteria for the Ladies’ High-Mech prize, which was launched relatively recently in 2013, are creativity and mechanical complexity. So far, all three timepieces that have made the grade have featured a mechanism with an inventive approach to telling the time – the Lady Compliquée Peacock by Fabergé (2015), Christophe Claret’s Margot (2014) and the Lady Arpels Ballerine Enchantée by Van Cleef & Arpels (2013).

This year, four of the seven watches in contention are tourbillons. The other three are distinguished by poetic or unusual time displays, which should earn them points for creativity and mechanical complexity, although both these criteria imply much more than merely how they display the time.

Christophe Claret is back this year with a new women’s complication that is unashamedly poetic, inventive and mechanically virtuosic, Marguerite. The watch face forms an animated tableau, where the time is indicated by two delicate butterflies that flutter around a twelve-petalled daisy. It’s also a secret notebook with a customisable message, which appears at the push of a button. The numerals and the concept of time then take a back seat to pure emotion. Christophe Claret created the automatic MT15 movement for this watch, beating at 28,800 vph, with a 72-hour power reserve supplied by twin barrels. The rotor also bears a hidden love message taken from the “He loves me… he loves me not” game. Creativity is also evident in the jewellery setting of the timepiece, which features both “snowflake” and “champagne” setting, depending on the version (white or rose gold).

christophe-claret_marguerite.jpg

Louis Vuitton’s Spin Time display, which shows the hour on 12 rotating cubes, is not strictly new, as the first version was unveiled in 2010, and further developments have appeared since. The Tambour Colour Blossom Spin Time is driven by the automatic manufacture calibre LV 76 made by the Fabrique du Temps, which provides a Spin Time hour function – the cube representing the current hour rotates to show a different colour – and minutes. With a 40-hour power reserve, it vibrates at 28,800 vph. The rose gold case frames an entirely snow-set dial, in the centre of which blooms a Monogram Flower in sculpted pink mother-of-pearl.

louis-vuitton_tambour_color_blossom_spin_time

But can the Geneva-based niche brand Ludovic Ballouard overturn the dominance of the six other watchmakers represented in this category? The Upside Down Art Deco watch, with jumping hours that tell the time both upside-down and the right way up, and its small seconds display on a rotating disc, lacks neither imagination nor charm.

Ludovic-Ballouard_upside_down

Now let’s look at the tourbillons, one of which is a newcomer to the Girard-Perregaux Cat’s Eye collection. The only non-round watch among the competitors, it contains the iconic Tourbillon with Gold Bridge movement, the manual calibre GP09700-00013 with a 70-hour power reserve and a frequency of 21,600 vph. The fronds sculpted into the mother-of-pearl dial are mirrored in the motifs carved on the bridge. The other components of the hand-decorated movement bear witness to the extremely high-quality finish of the timepiece.

girard-perregaud_cats-eye-tourbillon-sous-pont-dor

The Skeleton Tourbillon Pearl by Ulysse Nardin and Bulgari’s Serpenti Incantati Tourbillon Lumière are distinguished by their skeletonisation, an unusual feature for women’s watches. In terms of design, however, the comparison stops there. While the bezel of the former is richly set with 209 brilliant-cut diamonds forming a snake shape, finished with a large rubellite for the head, the latter has an ethereal lightness despite the many diamonds and mother-of-pearl inlays on the movement. The Serpenti’s manual BVL 208 calibre guarantees a 60-hour power reserve. The skeletonised manufacture UN-170 tourbillon movement of the Skeleton Tourbillon Pearl, meanwhile, offers 7 days of autonomy. Its balance spring, lever and escapement wheel are all made of silicon.

ulysse-nardin_skeleton-tourbillon-pearl bulgari_serpenti-incantati-tourbillon-lumiere

Finally, Antoine Preziuso, whose Tourbillon of Tourbillons won both the Innovation Prize and the Public Prize in 2015, is presenting a women’s tourbillon, the Stella Polare Tourbillon. It is the only timepiece in the competition without any gem-setting at all, but precious materials are nevertheless a prominent component: the case is carved out of a meteorite. And at CHF 240,000, it’s by far the most expensive competitor in the category.

antoine-preziuso_stella_polare

All the entrants in the Ladies' high mech category

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