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GPHG - Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève
GPHG 2016 - Sports watch

GPHG 2016 Sports watch

Success in this category depends on meeting the GPHG’s definition of what a sports watch is.

The Sports Watch category in the GPHG 2016 is one of the easiest to define, along with the “Petite Aiguille” category, where price is the only criteria. According to the rules of the GPHG, watches in this category must be “linked to the field of sports, [with] functions, materials and design [that] are suited to physical activities”. In terms of functions, chronographs would seem the obvious choice, but they have a separate category. Nevertheless, four of the eleven watches entered in this category have a chronograph function and one of them is a legendary example of the genre: the Zenith El Primero.

zenith el primero GPHG sport

As far as materials and design are concerned, the diver’s watch look would seem to be the most popular choice for this category (incidentally, given the huge popularity of diver’s watches, when are we likely to see a GPHG category for this very specific type of watch?). Just under half the entrants in the Sport Watch category are diver’s models with classic looks and stainless-steel cases, while the Ressence Type 5B, despite the absence of a crown or unidirectional turning bezel, has also been designed to comply with the ISO 6425 diver watch norm.

Two watches in this category don’t fit into either of the above sports use cases and their suitability for physical activities is open to question. I personally would not feel comfortable, for example, wearing the angular hexagonal case of the Greco Genève LTM-18t to do any form of sport, particularly a team or contact sport where a wayward knock from one of the edges of the case could cause someone an injury. Furthermore, the hexagonal nut-shaped case and the spanner design of the hands suggest that this watch is more suitable for mechanical engineers than sportsmen.

I would have similar qualms about wearing the Ulysse Nardin Grand Deck Marine Tourbillon for sport (assuming I had the 280,000 Swiss francs required to buy one). It’s one of my personal favourites from Baselworld this year. But is it a sports watch? The links between Ulysse Nardin and the marine world are indisputable, of course, but the delicate nature of the tourbillon and the even-more delicate nano-wires that act as pulleys to move the retrograde minute hand whose axis is at 12 o’clock do not necessarily exude sportiness.


This is not to take away any of the merits that the above-mentioned timepieces have in their own right. My analysis is based solely on the criteria indicated for this category – the criteria which the jury should at least in theory be basing its own assessment on. As is so often the case with the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, the choice of category when submitting a watch can be pivotal.

Competing watches in the "Sport" category of the GPHG 2016

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