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GPHG - Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève
GPHG 2016 - Petite Aiguille

GPHG 2016 Petite Aiguille

Apart from some notable exceptions, few luxury watch brands compete aggressively on price, even in the GPHG category where it is the sole criterion.

The 15 entrants in the Petite Aiguille category in the GPHG 2016, which admits any watch that costs less than 8,000 Swiss francs at retail, cover all points of the horological compass, from venerable 150-year old brands to those which have arrived on the market only this year. All but four of the entrants are three-hand watches, the exceptions being three chronographs (from Seiko, TAG Heuer and Zenith) hoping to make the cut outside the chronograph category and one regulator. And all but one are round: the Tiffany East-West automatic has the only four-sided case in the category and underscores its singularity with a dial on which the indications are rotated 90 degrees to the right of those of all the other entrants in this category.

Tiffany & Co. Tiffany East West Automatic

The average price of all 15 entrants is just over 5,500 Swiss francs, and less than half of the candidate watches retail for less than this figure. With price the defining characteristic for this category, however, three models immediately stand out: the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze, which at just 3,800 Swiss francs for a watch with a bronze case and in-house movement is unbeatable; the Seiko Presage, which raises (or lowers?) the bar further with a self-winding chronograph movement and an enamel dial for just 2,800 Swiss francs and, last but not least, the limited-edition Raymond Weil Maestro “The Beatles”. It is possibly the most affordable watch in the entire competition at 1,500 Swiss francs, and one with a classic design that will stand the test of time, plus the discreet bonus of having the Beatles logo and all their album titles on the dial. It’s just a shame that only 3,000 are available for purchase.

Raymond Weil Maestro “The Beatles”.

A couple of niche brands (Blancarré and Mauron Musy) are no doubt using their entries in this category of the GPHG 2016 to gain awareness for their brands rather than just their 2016 flagship models. Whether or not they make the final cut, it’s a smart move given the absence of all Swatch Group brands from the competition this year. The 500 Swiss francs to cover the administrative expenses for their participation can be considered money well spent for the exposure that the watches get on the official GPHG website. But priced at 5,300 and 5,400 Swiss francs respectively, and fitted with self-winding movements of indeterminate origin, they are pitched head-to-head with a contemporary classic like the Slim d’Hermès with its distinctive typography and in-house movement (not forgetting the signature Hermès leather strap), for just a thousand francs more.

Slim d’Hermès 39mm Ardoise Dial


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