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GPHG - Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève
GPHG 2017 - Tough choices in the chronograph category

GPHG 2017 Tough choices in the chronograph category

We take a look at the finalists in what is undoubtedly the most hotly contested category this year.

Could the Aiguille d’Or winner of 2017 be in this category? Thankfully, that tough decision is in the hands of the jury, but the finalists in the chronograph category this year are of a calibre such that it will be extremely difficult to pick a winner. There are past and future legends, re-issues of vintage models and two chronographs with the same ground-breaking movement going head to head.
At the more affordable end of the spectrum are the TAG Heuer Autavia 42, the La Chaux-de-Fonds brand’s first-ever crowd-sourced design, and the Longines Avigation “Big Eye”. Both use designs with a heavy inspiration from the past. The Autavia harks back to the 1970s and Jack Heuer’s famous partnerships in the world of motorsport, while the “Big Eye” recalls the original pilots’ watches, with the oversized pushers and oversized small seconds counter reminding us that these watches were a vital tool that pilots actually used for navigation.

Choix épineux dans la catégorie des chronographes

Autavia 42 © TAG Heuer

The Montblanc 1858 chronograph and the Parmigiani Fleurier Tondor Chronor Anniversaire, on the other hand, offer the very best in classic chronographs. The former has a manual calibre that borrows extensively from a Minerva pocket chronograph calibre that dates back to the 1930s. The classic movement is a joy to behold behind the sapphire crystal case back and is packaged in a 44mm diameter bronze case with a vintage-look champagne dial. It is a limited edition of 100 pieces.

Choix épineux dans la catégorie des chronographes

Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter © Montblanc

To mark its 20th anniversary, Parmigiani Fleurier presented a brand-new integrated chronograph movement – a major milestone for a company that is relatively young by the standards of some of its peers. Producing an integrated chronograph movement in-house is an achievement in itself, but Parmigiani Fleurier has gone several steps better by incorporating a split-seconds function and a large date. Furthermore, as the icing on the metaphorical birthday cake, the whole movement is made of solid gold – a precious metal that is notoriously difficult to machine, since it has the annoying tendency to deform and stick to tools!

Choix épineux dans la catégorie des chronographes

Tonda Chronor Anniversaire © Parmigiani

The biggest headache for the jury, however, comes from the only two watches presented this year to use the ground-breaking central chronograph movement developed by Jean-Marc Wiederrecht (Agenhor). The two may have opted for totally different aesthetics, Fabergé preferring a futuristic design with titanium, ceramic, and darker colours on the Visionnaire Chronograph and new brand Singer Reimagined choosing a retro 1970s curved case in titanium grade 5 for its Track 1 model, but the engine underneath is unmistakably the same, since this is the only self-winding chronograph movement that concentrates all its displays around the same central axis.

Choix épineux dans la catégorie des chronographes

Visionnaire Chronograph © Fabergé

All in all a very difficult choice, therefore, but looking at price alone can be a big help. So here is a summary of the watches in a more consumer-oriented order by increasing price:

Longines Avigation BigEye
41mm self-winding chronograph, 54-hour power reserve, 30m water resistance.
Price: CHF 2,300

TAG Heuer Autavia
42mm self-winding chronograph, 80-hour power reserve, 100m water resistance.
Price: CHF 4,583

Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter (Limited Edition of 100)
44mm manually wound chronograph, 50-hour power reserve, 30m water resistance. Price: CHF 26,018.

Fabergé Visionnaire Chronograph
43mm self-winding chronograph, 60-hour power reserve, 50m water resistance.
Price: CHF 34,500

Singer Reimagined Track 1
43mm self-winding chronograph, 60-hour power reserve, 100m water resistance.
Price: CHF 39,800

Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Chronor Anniversaire (Limited Edition of 25)
42.1mm manually wound chronograph, 65-hour power reserve, 30m water resistance. Price: CHF 135,000

 Watch the ceremony

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