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The watch industry gathers for the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève

By Watches of Switzerland Group | 3 minute read

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Since it was founded 20 years ago, the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) has become the luxury watch industry event to be seen at. Such is the prestige attached to the annual industry event that it’s become known as the Oscars of Watchmaking – no wonder: winning a GPHG is good for profile.

Winning the ‘Aiguille d’Or’, the top award on the night, is better still. At this year’s event, held before an audience of 1,300 in Geneva’s Théâtre du Léman last Thursday, Bulgari scooped that prize for the first time, rising to the top of a pile of 84 shortlisted watches across 14 categories.

While this was the first in-person edition of the event since before the pandemic, it was the second year of the GPHG Academy, a body of more than 500 members set up to add independent rigour to the judging process.

The Academy’s role is to gather nominations, which are then passed to the 30-strong independent jury to cast the final vote on. This year’s jury was presided over by British historian, writer and journalist Nick Foulkes and counted our chief executive Brian Duffy and veteran British journalist Bill Prince among its number, too.

To the winners, then. Bulgari’s all-conquering watch was the Octo Finissimo Titanium Perpetual Calendar, the world’s thinnest perpetual calendar at 5.8mm thick. Tudor’s Black Bay Ceramic, powered by a Master Chronometer-certified movement, picked up the Petite Aiguille prize for watches priced between CHF3,500 and CHF10,000. And the highly coveted Men’s Watch Prize went to Grand Seiko’s Hi-Beat 36,000 80 Hours Caliber 9SA5, distinguishable by its white birch-inspired dial.

Zenith’s Chronomaster Sport, a popular winner in a historically highly competitive category, took home the Chronograph Prize.

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This is the prize we wanted. More than 50 years have passed since we created the El Primero high-frequency chronograph, the world’s first automatic mechanical chronograph. Chronographs are deep in our DNA.

Julien Tornare, Zenith chief executive

Elsewhere, few would have disagreed with the jury’s decision to single out Audemars Piguet’s green-dialled, platinum-cased Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin in the Iconic category. Earlier this year, the family-owned company made the shock announcement that it would be discontinuing its Ref 15202 – the winning watch, a variant of that reference, is a slice of watchmaking history, no question.

Piaget claimed the Mechanical Exception Prize for its wafer-thin Altiplano Ultimate Automatic as well as the Ladies’ Watch Prize for its Limelight Gala Precious Rainbow, while the popular independent MB&F also bagged two gongs, including the Men’s Complication Prize for its magnificent LMX Titanium.

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I thoroughly enjoyed being on the jury. It was great fun and Nick led us extremely well, and it was also a fantastic opportunity to meet collectors and experts from around the world who share a deep passion for the watchmaking category. I was very proud to be part of it and pass my congratulations on to all the nominees and winners. Brian Duffy, the Watches of Switzerland Group chief executive

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The Watches of Switzerland Group Chief Executive, Brian Duffy and Maximilian Büsser, Owner & Creative Director of MB&F, winner of the Men’s Complication Watch Prize 2021

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