The 2021 Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) concluded with an awards ceremony that streamed live on November 4, 2021, with the ceremony being held at the Théâtre du Léman in Geneva, Switzerland. Often described as the 'Oscars of Watchmaking', GPHG is an annual event that celebrates contemporary watchmaking by rewarding spectacular timepieces. Created in 2001 and overseen since 2011 by a foundation recognised as a public interest organisation, the GPHG has been pursuing for 20 years its mission to celebrate and promote the art of watchmaking around the globe.
GPHG 2021 prize list
The awards ceremony marked the 20th anniversary of the GPHG and honoured contemporary watchmaking excellence and creativity by handing out 19 prizes to winners announced by the 30-member jury. The ultimate 'best in show' distinction, the 'Aiguille d'Or"' Grand Prix, was awarded to Bulgari for the Octo Finissimo watch. 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 celebrated by the jury and the GPHG Academy for the quality of their creations in varied categories.
The Special Jury Prize, which rewards a personality or an influential institution in the sphere of watchmaking, was bagged this year by the Dubai Watch Week.
The watches nominated this year, including the 18 award winners, are on display at the Musée Rath in Geneva until November 14, 2021. This exhibition will also present the 20 watches that have won the Aiguille d'Or Grand Prix between 2001 and 2020. The 2021 winning watches will also be presented during the Dubai Watch Week -- from November 24 to 28 -- and then will make their way to Paris from December 2 to 5, 2021.
Following are the watches that took the top honours at GPHG 2021.
Aiguille d'Or Grand Prix: Bulgari, Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar in titanium
Bulgari's Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar is a record-holder for the thinnest perpetual calendar. This Octo Finissimo features an automatic in-house calibre which is just 2.75mm thick - the automatic BVL 305 calibre. It functions include hour, minutes, retrograde date, day, month, and retrograde leap year.
The Octo Finissimo features a sandblasted 40mm titanium dial, retrograde and jump-back displays, sandblasted titanium bracelet and a three-blade folding buckle. The caseback is transparent, and the timepiece is water-resistant up to 30 metres and delivers a power reserve of around 60 hours.
Ladies' Watch Prize: Piaget, Limelight Gala Precious Rainbow
Piaget's Limelight Gala is a rose gold sapphire watch for women in a 32mm case and set with a gradient of rainbow gemstones -- 37 sapphires and five tsavorites on the bezel and the elongated lugs. The jewellery watch features a hand-engraved Palace décor bracelet and dial, and is a numbered-edition timepiece.
Driving this elegant timepiece is the Manufacture Piaget 501P1 self-winding mechanical movement that powers the hours and minutes, and provides the wearer with a power reserve of around 40 hours. The movement flaunts a Circular Côtes de Genève finishing alongside circular-grained mainplate, bevelled bridges, and blued screws on bridges. The Limelight Gala houses an engraved dial in gold and is water-resistant up to 30 metres.
Ladies' Complication Watch Prize: Van Cleef & Arpels, Lady Féerie Watch
Fairies and ballerinas are inseparable from Van Cleef & Arpels, a tradition that the brand honours with timepieces like the Lady Féerie Watch. Part of the Poetic Complications Collection, the Lady Féerie Watch comes housed in a 33mm white gold case dressed in sapphire and diamonds. The watch grabs attention with its white gold bezel set with diamonds, a guilloché mother of pearl dial, and a sculpted white gold fairy whose wings are made of turquoise plique-à-jour enamel that calls to mind the many shades of the starry sky.
The fairy sits on a cloud and points out the minutes with her magic wand courtesy a retrograde movement and the moon indicates the hours in a mother of pearl aperture. The case is water-resistant up to 30 metres and houses the automatic mechanical movement Valfleurier Q020 with jumping hours and retrograde minutes module, which offers a power reserve of around 36 hours. The dial is flanked by a shiny white alligator leather strap.
Men's Watch Prize: Grand Seiko, Hi-Beat 36000 80 Hours Caliber 9SA5
Hi-Beat 36000 80 Hours features a dial that takes inspiration from the white birch tree forests that thrive in northern parts of Japan and also grow near the Grand Seiko Studio Shizukuishi, where all Grand Seiko mechanical watches are made. The watch is powered by the revolutionary Caliber 9SA5 that was released in 2020 in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the manufacture.
The Caliber 9SA5 boasts a precision rate of -3 to +5 seconds a day and achieves a power reserve of 80 hours. Its escapement is entirely new and was developed in-house and enables the escapement wheel to transmit power directly to the balance, which results in increased efficiency of the watch. The movement sits snug inside this Grand Seiko's 40mm stainless steel case. The case has wide lugs and a low centre of gravity that ensures that the watch sits easily and securely on the wrist.
Men's Complication Watch Prize: MB&F, LMX Titanium
The MB&F's LMX utilises an expression that comprises a central flying balance wheel and two stretched dials in white lacquer, each with its own display of hours and minutes. Its unique hemispherical rotating power reserve offers the wearer a choice to show either a weekday or a seven-day indication. Its symmetrical engine -- the three-dimensional horological movement -- can be observed through the dial, but also through the sapphire caseback that reveals the three barrels placed evenly around the centre, accentuated by the sunray pattern of the Côtes de Genève finishing. The manual winding movement delivers a power reserve of around seven days.
The watch offers functions such as hours and minutes and completely independent dual time zones displayed on two inclined dials. Both the dials are tilted at an angle - this complex engineering requires the transfer of energy from horizontal to vertical planes courtesy its conical gears. The watch finds its home inside a Grade 5 titanium case that offers a water resistance of around 30 metres.
Iconic Watch Prize: Audemars Piguet, Royal Oak 'Jumbo' Extra-Thin
Audemars Piguet's Royal Oak 'Jumbo' Extra-Thin Ref. 15202PT.OO.1240PT.01 features a vibrant smoked green sunburst dial that produces a stunning contrast. The smoked green dial features white gold applied hour-markers and Royal Oak hands with a luminescent coating. Presented in a full 950 platinum case in 39mm, the watch has an integrated bracelet. The overall thickness of the case, with glareproofed sapphire crystal and caseback, marked at just 8.1mm gives the 'Jumbo' a slender appearance.
Beating inside the timepiece is AP's robust Calibre 2121 that has been equipped with a gold winding mass that can be viewed via the open caseback. The automatic movement delivers a power reserve of around 40 hours. The watch remains a silent and simple performer with functions like the hours, minute, and date display.
Tourbillon Watch Prize: De Bethune, DB Kind of Two Tourbillon
The DB Kind of Two Tourbillon is a limited edition of 10 pieces equipped with two faces. It features a dual front and back display of hours and minutes, seconds, ultra-light De Bethune 30" tourbillon in titanium. The contemporary single-sided display flaunts hand-polished and blued titanium hours and minutes hands with polished inserts, while the reverse-side displays hand-polished and blued titanium hours, minutes and seconds and the blued central hour and minute hands have a polished insert.
The manual winding DB2579 calibre delivers a power reserve of around five days and sits inside the 42.8mm polished Grade 5 titanium case that has a thickness of 9.5mm. The case also features floating lugs in a mirror-polished Grade 5 titanium turning mechanism that can be clearly positioned on the front or back side. The crown appears at noon on the front side and at 6 o'clock on the reverse side. The watch has been offered on an extra-supple alligator leather strap with an alligator lining.
Calendar and Astronomy Watch Prize: Christiaan Van Der Klaauw, CVDK Planetarium Eise Eisinga
The CVDK Planetarium Eise Eisinga is an awe-inspiring astronomical timepiece that is storytelling, science, history, and art clubbed together. This gorgeous haute horlogerie masterpiece contains the smallest mechanical Planetarium in the world showing real-time the orbits of Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn around the sun. The automatic Caliber CVDK7386, with twin spring barrels, delivers a power reserve of around 96 hours and powers functions like minutes, hours, date, and month. The smallest mechanical planetarium in the world is located at the 6 o'clock position. The coloured planets are hand-painted and the golden Sun is positioned in the middle of the planetarium. The planets orbit around the sun with Mercury taking 87.97 days, Venus 224.70 days, Earth 365.24 days, Mars 686.98 days, Jupiter 11.86 years, and Saturn 29.46 years.
Mechanical Exception Watch Prize: Piaget, Altiplano Ultimate Automatic
At only 4.30mm thick, the Altiplano Ultimate Automatic is the thinnest automatic watch ever created by Piaget. With a reversed movement construction, the elaborate and ultra-precise movement -- Manufacture Piaget 910P ultra-thin automatic -- dressed in white gold and Piaget's signature blue is displayed through the face of this mechanical masterpiece. The engine offers functions like off-centred hours and minutes at 10 o'clock and delivers a power reserve of around 48 hours. The timepiece has a blue PVD-coated peripheral rotor and a blue disc for the hours and minutes. The Altiplano Ultimate Automatic comes housed in a 41mm 18K white gold sase that offers a water resistance of 20 metres.
Chronograph Watch Prize: Zenith, Chronomaster Sport
Earlier this year, Zenith unveiled the Chronomaster Sport with an evolved El Primero calibre measuring 1/10th of a second. The new El Primero 3600 calibre offers robust performance and extreme precision with its ultra-readable 1/10th of a second display etched directly on its black ceramic bezel. Crafted in a slender and rugged steel case measuring 41mm wide with pump-style pushers, the polished black ceramic bezel sets the new Chronomaster Sport apart from its elder siblings.
The Chronomaster Sport features the signature El Primero tri-colour chronograph registers in blue, anthracite, and light grey, just like the A386 from 1969. The movement delivers a power reserve of around 60 hours and is visible through the sapphire display back that reveals a blue column wheel and open rotor marked with the five-pointed star Zenith. The Chronomaster sports is offered in two variants - one with matte white dial with three different applied coloured counters available on a metal bracelet or blue rubber strap with cordura effect and one with black lacquered dial available on a metal bracelet or black rubber strap with Cordura effect.
Also Read | Master of Precision: The Zenoth Chronomaster Sport
Diver's Watch Prize: Louis Vuitton, Tambour Street Diver Skyline Blue
With a unidirectional rotating bezel, divers can safely monitor dive times with extreme precision with this timepiece that is water resistant to 100 mts. The Tambour Street Diver Skyline Blue comes housed in a 44mm sandblasted stainless steel case with blue PVD treatment. On the sunray navy blue dial are the luminescent indexes and rhodium-polished hands. The 12 letters forming 'Louis Vuitton' are engraved around the side of the bezel and are designed in blue to match the case and dial. This Swiss-made beauty in blue is driven by an automatic movement seen through the smoked sapphire glass on the caseback. The Tambour Street Diver Skyline Blue is offered on a navy blue rubber strap with a light blue logo or a light blue strap with a navy logo.
Jewellery Watch Prize: Chopard, Flower Power
Part of Chopard's emblematic Red Carpet Collection, the artisans of the Geneva-based Maison have embellished this timepiece with pink sapphires and pear-shaped as well as brilliant-cut diamonds, assembled into subtle flower garlands totalling around 30 karats. The pink mother of pearl dial has been meticulously set with 12 pink sapphires. The entire watch is made of ethical Fairmined-certified 18K white gold reflecting Chopard's commitment to sustainable luxury. The 19.6mm case is set with diamonds houses a quartz movement that powers the hours and minutes functions.
Artistic Crafts Watch Prize: MB&F, LM SE Eddy Jaquet 'Around the World in Eighty Days'
The engraved dial plates of the LM SE Eddy Jaquet pieces are inspired by the novels of the 19th-century French writer Jules Verne. A series of eight unique pieces, the marvellous timepiece features the extraordinary imagination and skill of the master engraver, Eddy Jaquet, one of the most talented artists of his generation, who has engraved the dials to depict the novels of Jules Verne, including 'Around the World in Eighty Days'.
For each unique piece, Eddy Jaquet flipped through pages of Jules Verne's works and other creative works based on the books, such as the original published illustrations or films. He then created his own original sketches on templates of the dial plate, depicting key scenes from each story, sometimes combining several tableaux in a single dial plate as a graphic tapestry of storytelling. The engravings are executed directly on the main plate of the LM SE movement, which also acts as the dial. The watch is driven by a manual winding movement that delivers a power reserve of around 72 hours. This engine finds its home inside a 44.5mm red gold case that comes fitted with a brown leather strap.
'Petite Aiguille' Prize: Tudor, Black Bay Ceramic
This high-tech model has been tested by the Federal Institute of Metrology or METAS, covering precision, resistance to magnetic fields, waterproofness, and power reserve among some of the main functional characteristics of a timepiece. Its matte-black monobloc ceramic case has sandblasted surfaces with bevelled edges, mirror-polished for contrast and strong lines.
The insert of this Black Bay's rotatable bezel is also in black ceramic with a sunray satin finish. The unidirectional rotatable bezel is black-PVD-treated 316L steel with a 60-minute graduated disc in black ceramic with sunray satin finish and engraved markings and numerals. A hybrid leather and rubber strap in black with a snowflake motif on the inside and folding clasp complete the rugged look. Tudor also packs in a complementary black fabric strap with a cream band. Beating inside is the entirely black Manufacture Calibre MT5602-1U automatic movement, that delivers a power reserve of around 70 hours. The 41mm ceramic case offers water-resistance of up to 200 metres.
Challenge Watch Prize: CIGA Design, Blue Planet
According to CIGA Design, the purpose of creating the Blue Planet is to remind all of us to protect our only home - Mother Earth. The brand developed a brand-new mechanical movement to power this considerate timepiece that delivers a power reserve of around 40 hours. The brand also developed a new gear ratio on which the hour hand (the earth) rotates by 30° and the minute chapter ring rotates by 390°. The ocean and land in the middle were micro-carved according to the real earth.
The only hand is the mariner symbol which points at the still hour chapter ring and the rotating minute chapter ring to tell time. Its automatic engine finds its home inside a 46mm titanium case that offers a water resistance of around 30 metres. The watch has been paired with a blue rubber strap with a pin buckle.
Apart from the Aiguille d'Or Grand Prix award and the awards in 14 categories, the GPHG 2021 also gave an award to timepiece falling in these categories:
Innovation Prize: Bernhard Lederer, Central Impulse Chronometer
Lederer Watches' Central Impulse Chronometer took 10 years to be completed by Bernhard Lederer. This refined, 44mm white gold chronometer watch is fitted with a dial featuring a sophisticated pattern and two openworked small seconds. Through those, the movement's design, finishings, and structure are revealed. The manual winding Calibre 9012 movement features a double gear train, a double remontoire, and a peerless escapement augmenting the chronometry of this inventive timepiece. Coming to its bridges, some are full and engraved while others are openworked, but all of them are hand-bevelled.
The white gold case encloses its skeletonised dial and offers a water resistance of up to 30 metres. The watch has hours, minutes, seconds, special escapement, and a double 10-seconds remontoire as functions. The powerful timepiece delivers a power reserve of around 38 hours and comes fitted with a black leather strap.
Audacity Prize: Louis Vuitton, Tambour Carpe Diem
It took two years of development for the Tambour Carpe Diem - Louis Vuitton's very own jacquemart watch. Originally, jaquemarts were automata created to strike the hours on church bell towers. Soon, this was miniaturised on timepieces and quickly became essentially decoration. The framework of the Tambour Carpe Diem has been built around two major axes where the automaton is truly functional and tells the time on demand, without hands. By pressing a push-piece, the dial's miniature scenery comes to life on the wrist and the story's protagonists, the snake and the skull which perform the role of jacquemarts, indicate the time.
Visible on the back of the timepiece, the mechanical engine has been put inside in the shape of a skull. The LV 525 Calibre manual winding movement delivers a power reserve of around 100 hours that finds its home inside a 46.8mm 18K pink gold case. The case offers a water resistance of around 30 metres and comes fitted with a black alligator leather strap with 18K pink gold double folding buckle.
Horological Revelation Prize: Furlan Marri, MR. Grey Ref. 1041-A
This model could not be possible if it weren't for a crowdfunding campaign, which was put together in March 2021. The timepiece was created in less than a year, from the first sketch to the prototype and crowdfunding campaign in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Furlan Marri MR. Grey Ref. 1041-A comes housed in a 38mm stainless steel case, which offers a water resistance of up to 50 metres. The watch is driven by a Hybrid Meca-Quartz movement that powers functions like hours, minutes, chronograph, and 24 hours function (day/night). The grey dial has a sandblasted matte finish with PVD polished indexes. The watch is offered on a black leather strap.
All images: GPHG