Above Breguet’s Classique Chronométrie, the 2014 “Aiguille D’Or” Grand Prix Winner
Just over a week ago the luxury watch industry held its equivalent of the Oscar’s, otherwise known as the GPHG 2014.
The GPHG 2014
The GPHG is an annual event that celebrates the achievements of the world’s most prestigious watchmaking brands, recognising and rewarding both innovation and ingenuity in the luxury watch industry. The competition is open to all watch brands regardless of nationality however only watches commercialised after March and at the latest by November 30 of the current year are eligible to take part and there is a limit of 6 watches per brand.
Submitting a watch is the easy part though. In order to take part in the actual competition the watch must then be pre-selected by specially convened GPHG Jury made up of more than 20 representatives from the watch industry (experts, collectors, journalists, etc.) This occurs in the first round of voting – done by secret ballot – which results in the selection of six watches in each of the twelve categories. These are the pre-selected watches which will take part in the rest of the competition and in the various exhibitions.
In total, 16 awards are given out for the watches themselves plus an additional Special Jury prize, which this year was awarded to Walter Lange. What was perhaps most impressive however was the strong showing from independent watch brands, which collectively took home 7 of the 16 awards, demonstrating that more money doesn’t always equate to more success. Here’s some highlights from our favorite entries from the independent crowd:
URWERK EMC AlTin – Winner Mechanical Exception Watch Prize and Innovation Watch Prize
The EMC from URWERK is watch we’ve written about extensively here on The Watch Lounge. Unveiled in 2013, the EMC is often referred to as a mechanical smart watch thanks to its unique ability to monitor and display the timing regularity of the movement in real time, allowing its wearer to adjust for any discrepancies. I won’t go into detail here on its inner workings but if you would like to learn more than I suggest reading this article. Not surprisingly, this highly creative exploration of the mechanical and the electrical working side by side has generated quite a lot of buzz in the industry, with the EMC rightfully being awarded not one but two prizes at the GPHG 2014.
DeBethune DB29 Maxichrono Tourbillon – Winner Chronograph Watch Prize
I was fortunate enough to spend some time hands on with DeBethune’s gorgeous DB29 Maxichrono Tourbillon earlier this year at Baselworld (you can read the article here) and I have to say there is no doubt in my mind that the GPHG 2014 Jury made the correct decision on this one. The result of seven years of research and development, this exceptional patented chronograph, packed with innovations, embodies the essence of De Bethune’s watchmaking. Taking a novel approach to the traditional chronograph display the clean dial features three elapsed time counters which start from the outside and work their way in; the first is for 60 seconds, the second is for 60 minutes and finally the central one capable of accurately tracking 24 hours. Far more complex than its simplistic appearance would have you believe, this watch is truly a work of art.
Grönefeld Parallax Tourbillon – Winner Tourbillon Watch Prize
Our final highlight comes from the Dutch brothers Bart and Tim Grönefeld, who have once again proven that you do not need to be Swiss to excel at high-end watchmaking. Their winning entry in the tourbillon category is the absolutely jaw-dropping Parallax Tourbillon, also unveiled at Baselworld earlier this year. Powered by an in-house movement the Parallax features a “flying” tourbillon with a large central seconds hand, stop seconds, a power reserve and winding-setting mechanism indicator. It’s impossible to overstate how much of an achievement this is for such a small brand that does not have the benefit of the huge R&D budgets (and associated teams of specialists) that the major players boast, however it just goes to prove that anything is possible if you’re determined and innovative enough.
This is just a small selection of the winners of the GPHG 2014 and I highly encourage you to check out the official website to see not only the rest of the winners but also all of the pre-selected watches as the competition certainly was fierce this year.
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