AHEAD OF THE 23RD GRAND PRIX D’HORLOGERIE DE GENÈVE, GPHG, THE ANNUAL CELEBRATION OF WATCHMAKING EXCELLENCE THAT’S REGARDED AS THE ‘OSCARS’ OF THE INDUSTRY, NICK RICE MEETS TWO OF THE ESTEEMED JURY MEMBERS CHARGED WITH CHOOSING THE WINNERS.
BY THE TIME of the illustrious GPHG awards ceremony on 9 November at the Théâtre du Léman in Geneva, the 90 nominated timepieces (84 watches and 6 clocks) will have toured the world in a travelling exhibition to Macao, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, New York and finally the Swiss capital. Prior to the big night, a jury of 30 distinguished individuals from the realms of watchmaking and the arts, led by their president Nick Foulkes, will have gathered behind closed doors to determine the winners of the year’s accolades.
The GPHG was founded in 2001 to recognise and reward the most remarkable contemporary creations and promote the watchmaking art worldwide. The GPHG Academy was established in 2020, and it assumes the duties of shortlisting the contenders and dividing them into 15 categories. This year there will be 20 awards bestowed upon the years’ crème de la crème, including the prestigious “Aiguille d’Or” Grand Prix. Comprising nearly 850 key players from the main sectors of the watch industry, the entire Academy will act as global ambassadors for the watch industry and also take part in choosing the winners via a vote on the dedicated digital platform.
The ceremony itself will be broadcast live on gphg.org, euronews.com and by several media partners around the world, with deferred coverage by Léman Bleu and Hantang Culture. Jury President and renowned watch sector luminary Nick Foulkes says, “What is unique about the GPHG is that it offers a level playing field to all those who participate. Brands and makers unfamiliar to the wider world compete alongside some of the most celebrated names in horology. The composition of this year’s jury is another demonstration of the deepening and broadening interest in watches as collectors, retailers, auctioneers, social media personalities, watchmakers, commentators, and writers from around the world assume the responsibility of selecting winning watches from a rich and impressive field”. VOYAGE met with two of the jury members to get their take on this year’s highly anticipated event.
CODE 11.59 BY AUDEMARS PIGUET ULTRA-COMPLICATION UNIVERSELLE RD#4 Over a century after the creation of its exceptionally intricate Universelle pocket watch, Audemars Piguet unveils its very first self-winding wristwatch with unparalleled complexity, referred to as the RD#4. This
extraordinary timepiece is presented within the contemporary design of AP’s Code 11.59 collection. The watch has been meticulously designed with a focus on ergonomic comfort and contemporary usability. This remarkable creation consolidates the Manufacture’s horological expertise into a single movement, the self-winding Calibre 1000, comprising over 1 100 intricately crafted components. A triumph of engineering and the enduring art of watchmaking, this groundbreaking mechanism draws from three
generations of research and development innovations, encompassing 40 functions, including 23 complications such as a Grande Sonnerie Supersonnerie, a minute repeater, a perpetual calendar, a split-seconds flyback chronograph, and a flying tourbillon.
A huge personality in the watch world, Kristian Haagen is the best known watch expert in Scandinavia and a major influencer across social media. He doesn’t neglect print though, and he’s written eight horological books to date. His lifelong passion for watches keeps him globetrotting, visiting the most important brands in the watch industry as a widely respected and well-liked author, photographer, journalist, consultant and watch collector (he has quite the collection). Congratulations for being selected as a jury member. What criteria do you believe should define an “award-winning” watch, irrespective of category? – For me, a timepiece should encompass not just uniqueness, but also a profound display of craftsmanship and a clear demonstration of a deep horological expertise. I’m particularly drawn to
whimsical complications, such as automatons, or the concealed intricacies evident in watches like the 2022 Van Cleef & Arpels Heures Florales. While I’m not swayed by the allure of diamonds, I do appreciate their inclusion when it’s done cleverly and with a functional purpose. The 2022 Cartier Coussin, for instance, exemplifies the artful integration of diamonds in watch design.
How do you perceive the evolution of watch design and craftsmanship over recent years? – I continue to be awestruck by the enduring creativity within the watch industry. Take Richard Mille, for instance, who has been a trailblazer in the utilisation of exotic materials and incorporating a tourbillon in a sports watch. When faced with skeptics, his resolute response was a simple “Why not?” The spirit of “I’ll prove you wrong” injects a healthy dose of innovation into an otherwise predominantly conservative industry. Similarly, the pioneering efforts of Franck Muller and Carlos Dias in the 1990s challenged industry norms, and it’s fascinating to witness how their creative approach to modern watchmaking continues to be celebrated.
With 84 watches in contention this year, how do you approach the daunting task of evaluating and comparing such a diverse range of timepieces? – The final round of voting is scheduled for November 6, during which the esteemed grand jury will dedicate an entire day to meticulously scrutinising the nominees. The goal is to, ideally, achieve a consensus on the winning timepieces by the time we conclude our voting session that evening. Is there a specific watch category that you find particularly appealing as a judge? – I find the Mechanical Exception category captivating, yet my admiration is even more pronounced for the Ladies’ Complication category. The intricacy and delicacy of the movements in the latter category necessitate meticulous attention to detail and a high level of craftsmanship. This particular category truly underscores the need for patient and highly skilled hands in the creation of these intricate mechanical
How do you balance personal preferences and biases when assessing the contenders, considering the diverse tastes of the jury members? – Many of us share a passion for watches, and some among us have developed
quite the collection. Admittedly, personal biases may influence our choices as we step into the voting room. However, within this diverse and opinionated jury, I believe that well-reasoned arguments from my
esteemed colleagues will transcend individual preferences.
IWC SCHAFFHAUSEN INGENIEUR AUTOMATIC 40
The Ingenieur Automatic 40 marks IWC Schaffhausen’s return to the distinctive design of Gérald Genta’s iconic Ingenieur SL from the 1970s. It embodies the daring visual elements found in Genta’s renowned
Ingenieur design while also adhering to the most rigorous criteria for ergonomic, finishing, and technological excellence. This particular model showcases a Grade 5 Titanium steel case, bezel, and an integrated H-link bracelet equipped with a butterfly folding clasp, each meticulously crafted with a combination of polished and sandblasted surfaces.
The 32111 calibre employs a pawl winding system for a 72-hour power reserve. True to the Ingenieur’s technical legacy, a soft-iron inner case safeguards the movement against magnetic fields. With a 10-bar water-resistant case and an innovatively redesigned crown protection, the Ingenieur Automatic 40 stands as a truly adaptable luxury sports watch for the modern era.
CHOPARD ALPINE EAGLE CADENCE 8HF
Chopard unites attention to detail, high-frequency watchmaking, the lightweight comfort of titanium, and the refined durability of a precision chronometer in its second highfrequency addition to the Alpine Eagle collection. With a striking pitch black dial, complemented by subtle orange highlights, this exceptional
41mm-diameter timepiece encases one of Chopard’s most advanced movements.
The chronometercertified Chopard Calibre 01.12- C features a high-frequency escapement that operates at animpressive 57 600 vibrations per hour.