Breaking down the Oscars of watchmaking: GPHG winners

by Lewis Butterfield
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The Grand Prix D’Horologie De Geneve, the award show best described as the Oscars of watchmaking, held its annual award ceremony recently. We here at Watchadvice are here to fill you in on everything you need to know about the winners of the 2020 GPHG prizes.

Diver’s watch 

Criteria: watches linked to the world of diving, whose functions, materials and design are suited to this activity

Superocean Automatic 48 Boutique Edition

Big, bold and bulky, the Superocean Automatic 48 has been especially designed to meet daring diver’s needs. Thanks to a special lock, securing the ceramic bezel and a special titanium and soft-iron case, it will enable you to explore the oceans safely. This Superocean Automatic 48 features an impressively oversized 48-millimeter DLC-coated titanium case, a black ceramic bezel and a green dial that instantly attracts attention. Yet there is more to this watch than meets the eye: its soft-iron inner case offers protection against the effects of magnetic fields, while the bi-directional rotating bezel can be safely secured with a lock on the left side of the case. This timepiece comes with a matching green rubber strap with a DLC-coated stainless-steel pin buckle. Water resistant up to 30 bars (300 meters), it will be up to any challenge whether you dive, swim or surf with it.

Chronograph 

Criteria: mechanical watches comprising at least one chronograph indication. Additional indications and/or complications are admissible.

H Moser &Cie STREAMLINER Flyback Chronograph Automatic

The Streamliner Flyback Chronograph Automatic model is a form watch, with a steel cushion case 42.3 mm in diameter. With dynamic water resistance to 12 ATM, the chronograph function of the Streamliner Flyback Chronograph Automatic can be used underwater. Its off-centre crown, adorned with an “M”, balances the two chronograph push-buttons set at 10 and 2 o’clock. Designed as a truly sculptural piece, this case boasts harmonious proportions and beautiful aerodynamics.

Streamliner is the first automatic chronograph with a central display to feature a flyback function for the minutes and seconds. Its chronograph calibre is considered by a number of watchmaking experts to be one of the best ever made. This new calibre was developed by AGENHOR with support from the teams at H. Moser & Cie. based on a philosophy very similar to the famous H. Moser & Cie. perpetual calendar, the cornerstone of the manufacture’s success.

Innovation

Criteria: This prize rewards the best competing watch offering an innovative vision of time measurement (in terms of technique, design, materials, etc.) and opening up new development pathways for the watchmaking art. This prize is discretionary, the Jury will decide whether there are grounds for awarding it in 2020.

Parmigiani Fleurier Hijri Perpetual Calendar

This new piece features a 44.6 mm timepiece with a platinum case, a slate dial and rotor in platinum. It shows the hours and minutes, and date in Arabic numerals, the name and length of the months in Arabic calligraphy, as well as the abundant and the common years. It also features a moon phase in an aventurine sky and a power reserve of up to 48 hours. As seen in all Parmigiani timepieces, every single component of the movement, even the hidden parts, are decorated by in-house specialists. No components were made of gold.

Every detail has been thought of and this stunning timepiece includes Arabic architecture inspired elements- the bridges adopt the shape of growing and shrinking crescent moons and the Rub el Hizb, an Islamic symbol represented by two overlapping squares. In addition, the aesthetic of the Hijri Perpetual Calendar wristwatch is inspired by the purest artistic elements and follows timeless codes often seen in Parmigiani Fleurier collections. The lugs shape remain faithful to the brand’s ethos, designed to be ergonomic and comfortable on the wrist. This world-first is also fitted with a black Hermès alligator strap with a pin buckle.

Challenge

Criteria: watches with a retail price under CHF 4,000. Smartwatches are admissible in this category.

Tudor Black Bay 58

Like other models in the Black Bay range, the Black Bay Fifty-Eight “Navy Blue” adopts TUDOR’s characteristic angular hands known as “Snowflake” that appeared in the brand’s 1969 catalogue. The result of a subtle blend of traditional aesthetics and contemporary watchmaking, the Black Bay line is far from offering identical rereleases of classics. Resolutely anchored in the present, it brings together close to seven decades of TUDOR divers’ watches. Whilst it is neo-vintage in style, its manufacturing techniques and its robustness, reliability, durability and precision as well as the quality of its finishing are above current industry standards.

Horological revelation

Criteria: this prize rewards a competing watch created by a young brand (less than ten years of existence since its first model was commercialised). It may also reward the mechanical creation of a young talent, in the event that none of the competing watches should be considered worthy of receiving this prize. This prize is discretionary, the Jury will decide whether there are grounds for awarding it in 2020.

Petermann Bédat Dead beat second

Made in Renens, the word ‘made’ takes on another dimension when every detail is made with the same desire for perfection. Breguet’s spiral spring, black polished, polished bevels, everything is finished by hand with the same care. Even the parts that you will never get to see. Why?, because the next generation of watchmakers love their job as much as their ancestors did.

For their dead beat second, the Gafner system was the inspiration. It requires the best craftsmanship to adjust while offering great room for creativity. The anchor of second is the most complex component to manufacture in the system. Adjusted by hand to the hundredth of a millimetre, it is only the watchmaker’s exceptional skill that makes the difference between the movement working or not.

Audacity

Criteria: this prize rewards the best competing watch featuring a non-conformist, offbeat approach to watchmaking. It is intended to foster creative audacity. This prize is discretionary, the Jury will decide whether there are grounds for awarding it in 2020.

Endeavour Cylindrical Tourbillon H.Moser X MB&F

For its Endeavour Cylindrical Tourbillon, H. Moser & Cie. has adopted features from MB&F machines, such as the concept of three-dimensional movements, a strong element of the Geneva Maison’s identity, protected by a sapphire dome. H. Moser & Cie. is emphasizing a one-minute flying tourbillon that rises above the main dial through a ventricular opening appearing at 12 o’clock. Benefiting from the expertise of its sister company Precision Engineering AG, H. Moser & Cie. has equipped its tourbillon with a cylindrical balance spring, the same as that developed by Precision Engineering AG for MB&F’s LM Thunderdome. 

Fitted with a Breguet overcoil at both attachment points, the cylindrical balance spring reduces pivot friction and greatly improves isochronism. Due to its specific shape, the cylindrical balance spring is far more difficult to produce and takes ten times longer to make than a traditional balance spring.

Calendar and astronomy

Criteria: men’s mechanical watches comprising at least one calendar and/or astronomical complication (e.g. date, annual calendar, perpetual calendar, equation of time, complex moon phases display, etc.). Additional indications and/or complications are admissible.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas perpetual calendar ultra-thin skeleton

Like all models in the Overseas collection, this exceptional watch offers a modular touch via a simple and convenient bracelet/strap interchangeability system. Fitted with a gold bracelet whose satin-brushed half Maltese cross-shaped links underline the elegance of the timepiece, it also comes with two additional straps in blue alligator leather and blue rubber.

Available in an 18K 5N all-gold version, the new Overseas Skeleton Perpetual Calendar watch perpetuates the travel-driven spirit of the collection and combines the refinement of precious metal with the nobility of its ultra-thin open worked complication movement. The 41.5 mm-diameter case houses the prestigious Calibre 1120 QPSQ, which combines an extraordinary aesthetic with Haute Horlogerie values. Greatly appreciated by collectors for its technical qualities and its performance (no adjustment will be required before March 1st 2100, neither for the day, date and month indications, nor for the moon phases), this entirely open worked ultra-thin NAC-treated anthracite grey mechanism is visible through a transparent sapphire dial bearing applied 18K 5N pink gold hour-markers.

Iconic

Criteria: men’s or ladies’ watches from an emblematic collection that has been exercising a lasting influence on watchmaking history and the watch market for more than 20 years.

Bvlgari Aluminium Chronograph

The new Bvlgari Aluminium watch 2020 reignites the fire lit back in 1998 by the first-generation models. More than 20 years have gone by, it has remained vibrantly alive in watchmaking memory. Flashback: in 1998, Bvlgari – a jewellery brand at the top of the pyramid of major luxury stakeholders – presented a collection made from very unexpected materials. Aluminium and rubber, in a highly graphic combination of black and white, composed the most innovative, modernist casual watch of the decade that was drawing to a close.

Chronometry 

Criteria: mechanical watches comprising at least one tourbillon and/or a special escapement and/or another development improving chronometry (precision timekeeping). Additional indications and/or complications are admissible.

Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud FB 2RE

In 1770, Ferdinand Berthoud was awarded the title of “Clockmaker and Mechanic by appointment to the French King and Navy”. Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud is celebrating this 250th anniversary by unveiling a new collection inspired by the Marine Clock No.6: the Chronomètre FB 2RE. This new timepiece reinterprets the architecture and design of this Marine Clock. Fitted along its middle with a large panoramic window, the round 18-carat gold case frames a grand feu enamel dial with a complex two-tiered construction.


The FB-RE.FC calibre is one of the rare examples to feature fusee-and-chain transmission, serving to ensure constant force for the escapement. It acts like an infinitely variable automatic reduction gearbox. The torque delivered by the barrel of a watch movement naturally varies according to the degree of winding. In this type of transmission, when the movement is fully wound, the chain is completely wrapped around the small end of the spindle-shaped fusee and the mainspring is at maximum power. This force dwindles in the course of time, as the chain coils around the drum, moving from the small to the large end of the fusee.

Petite Aguille 

Criteria: watches with a retail price between CHF 4,000 and CHF 10,000. Smartwatches are admissible in this category.

Breitling Superocean Heritage’57

The Superocean Heritage ’57 Limited Edition II is all about colour. Its rainbow-inspired highlights are a clear link to the symbol that has come to represent support for frontline healthcare workers around the world.

This model has a 42-millimeter stainless-steel case and bidirectional rotating bezel with an ultrahard blue ceramic bezel ring and a blue dial. Among its most striking features are the colour highlights marking the hours at 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock on the dial. The hour markers and the hour and minute hands are coated with Super-LumiNova in a rainbow graduation of yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet, red, and orange. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself inviting strangers to come and enjoy the little festival of colour on your wrist!

Ladies complication

Criteria: women’s watches that are remarkable in terms of their mechanical creativity and complexity. These watches may feature all kinds of classic and/or innovative complications and indications (e.g. annual calendar, perpetual calendar, equation of time, complex moon phases, digital or retrograde time display, world time, second time zone or other types of model) and do not fit the definition of the Ladies’ category.

Charles Girardier “Signature Mystérieuse” Tourbillon

In collaboration with the Timeless manufacture has enabled a unique complication based on a flying tourbillon movement with automatic winding by a peripheral mass. The automatic winding brings the desired comfort to the wearer without thickening it and keeping an open view on the movement thanks to this bidirectional mass evolving at the periphery of the movement. The special feature of the winding system developed by Timeless is a unique ball bearing which makes it a first in this type of mechanism.

The decoration of the movement is refined with bridges highlighted by a traditional hand-made graining by the application of silver powder (frost gilt). The hand-made engaging angles on the barrel bridge and the tourbillon bridge respect all the codes of Geneva haute horlogerie.

Ladies watch

Criteria: women’s watches comprising the following indications only: hours, minutes, seconds, simple date (day of the month), power reserve, classic moon phases; may be adorned with a maximum 8-carat gem setting.

Bovet Miss Audrey

In 2020, the House of BOVET is showcasing green dials across its collections. The iconic Miss Audrey and Monsieur Bovet are two of the many designs adorned in this colour.

The case’s convertible feature allows the timepiece to be worn on the wrist, transformed into a table clock or turned into a majestic pendant without needing to use any tools. To match the dial in perfect harmony, Mr. Raffy, BOVET 1822’s owner, has designed an original long jade bead necklace that highlights the refinement of the timepiece. Powered by an automatic movement displaying the date at 6 o’clock, Miss Audrey is a timepiece that offers the comfort of use that is rare for such a gem. BOVET 1822’s craftsmen have once again skilfully combined their talents to create these two timepieces. The dial-makers add the finishing touch that attracts every eye. Several months of development and fine-tuning were required to accomplish the end result.

Mens complication

Criteria: men’s watches that are remarkable in terms of their mechanical creativity and complexity. These watches may feature all kinds of classic and/or innovative complications and indications (e.g. world time, dual-time or other types of model) and do not fit the definition of the Men’s and Mechanical Exception categories.

Greubel Forsey Hand Made 1

Greubel Forsey unveils the result of this unprecedented watchmaking approach: Hand Made 1 – an hours/minutes/seconds timepiece with a tourbillon. This creation took an uncharted course because simply replicating an existing calibre by hand was out of the question. The Hand Made 1 has been entirely created from scratch. The movement construction, traditional machining and hand-finishing specialists reflected at length on each of the 272 movement components and 36 case parts, understanding and concentrating on what the hand-made approach allows and how to get the very best out of it. 

The Hand Made 1 therefore demanded a total overhaul of the creative process, involving the people who would make and decorate each component from the very beginning. This project’s daring was only matched by the creativity and inventiveness required to find new technical solutions. Some parts of the movement were redesigned in order to simplify them. Meanwhile for other mechanisms such as the tourbillon, the number of components had to be increased to allow each part to be made by hand. The timepiece’s relatively modest dimensions (43.5 mm in diameter and 13.5 mm thick) further heightened the difficulty of this task.

Mens watch

Criteria: men’s watches comprising the following indications only: hours, minutes, seconds, simple date (day of the month), power reserve, classic moon phases; may be adorned with a maximum 5-carat gem setting.

Voutilainen 28SC

The Voutilainen 28SC wristwatch perfectly encapsulates the philosophy of Kari Voutilainen. Its elegant and strong mechanism is housed in a stylish and robust case which has redesigned lugs with concave form. Elegant bezel has also concave shape. Winding crown is thinner with a bigger diameter. It enables to have nice winding experience with an easy hand setting function.

The in-house movement of the Vingt-8 is designed, built, fabricated, finished and assembled in its entirety in Voutilainen workshops. The design and philosophy of the movement combines respect for longevity and precision with classical watchmaking tradition. The movement has a very large balance wheel manufactured in-house, allowing perfect regulation of the watch to within strict tolerances. To equip such an exceptional timepiece, a very rare and unique balance- spring system has been used. The exterior of the spring uses a typical Phillips overcoil, while the internal curve uses the little-known Grossmann curve.

Aigulle D’or Grand Prix

Criteria: This prize rewards the best overall watch among all categories (Best in Show), also deemed the most representative of the watch industry as a whole. It is the most prestigious award. 

Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept

Measuring a mere 2mm including case and sapphire crystal, the same thickness as the iconic 9P calibre Piaget unveiled in 1957 at Baselworld and that shook the world of watchmaking, the Altiplano Ultimate Concept served as a stage for numerous Piaget innovations, including the case being part of the movement, an integrated winding crown, an ultra-thin crystal and more importantly new constructions for the barrel and the energy regulation.

With the Altiplano Ultimate Concept, the idea was to create a watch not formed by multiple layers, but from a previously untried fusion of re-scaled components, combining the case and the movement as a whole. In order to do this, Piaget embarked on a journey of miniaturisation that resulted in the filing of no fewer than five patents and that led to this 2mm-thin hand-wound watch, with wheels as thin as 0.12mm and the sapphire crystal down to a mere 0.2mm.

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