GPHG: watchmaking as an art form

The Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève 2021 (GPHG) awards ceremony handed out prizes to astounding creations. SoBARNES presents its top picks.

Every year, the watchmaking world holds its breath for the announcement of the GPHG prize list. The Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève unveils talents, sets trends, rewards audacity and applauds the creativity not only of designers unknown to the general public but also major international brands that dare to think outside the box.  The 2021 edition, marking the 20th anniversary of the GPHG, was no exception. The “Aiguille d'Or” Grand Prix was awarded to Bulgari for the Octo Finissimo watch which, at a thickness of just 5.8mm, is the world’s thinnest Perpetual Calendar. A feat of horological engineering:

The Audemars Piguet, Bernhard Lederer, Chopard, Christiaan Van Der Klaauw, CIGA Design, De Bethune, Furlan Marri, Grand Seiko, Louis Vuitton, MB&F, Piaget, Tudor, Van Cleef & Arpels and Zenith brands were also saluted by the Jury and the GPHG Academy (*) for the quality of their creations in the various categories.

Our first SoBARNES favourite (entirely subjective, of course) is the LMX Titanium by MB&F, which won the Men’s Complication Watch Prize. You have to admit its two white lacquer dials tilted at an angle, each with its own display of hours and minutes, certainly cut a fine figure:

It may not sound much, but tilting the dials required the transfer of energy from horizontal to vertical planes using conical gears. Which is quite an achievement, we’re sure you’ll agree.

In the same style, we tip our hat to the winner of the Tourbillon Watch Prize: De Bethune, DB Kind of Two Tourbillon. Entirely reversible, one face displays central hours and minutes with a 30-second tourbillon at 6 o’clock, while the other, more traditional dial, has neither a tourbillon nor second display but central hour and minute hands:

A subtle technical challenge not immediately apparent at first glance. But therein lies the elegance of this timepiece.

Our third congratulations go to the watch awarded the Audacity Prize: the Louis Vuitton Tambour Carpe Diem, a sublime mix of automata echoing the classic Vanitas theme, which SoBARNES readers discovered ahead of the rest.

The watches preselected for the GPHG 2021, including the 18 prize winners, are on display at the Musée Rath in Geneva until 14 November then will be exhibited at Dubai Watch Week from 24 to 28 November, before travelling to Paris from 2 to 5 December 2021 (exhibition calendar available here). Don't say we don't keep you in the loop!

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(*) Full GPHG 2021 prize list:

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