Few events in watchmaking are as hotly anticipated as the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG). Now in its 20th year, the annual awards ceremony serves to unify the industry and celebrate its brightest horological creations. For the 2021 edition, 84 timepieces were nominated across 14 categories, with an expert jury revealing the winners last month. We spotlight seven awardees that merit particular mention.
Ladies’ Complication Watch Prize
Taking top honours for femme-focused complexity was Van Cleef & Arpels’ gorgeous Lady Féerie. Its 33mm white-gold case is fronted by a delicate fairy illuminated by moonlight who tells the passage of time with her magic wand. The fairy’s face is decorated with diamonds and shines against a bluish sky of guilloché-carved mother-of-pearl. This Poetic Complications Collection model features an automatic mechanical movement (Valfleurier Q020) with a jumping hours and retrograde minutes module – quite a feat for a watch of its small stature.
Men’s Complication Watch Prize
Independent manufacture MB&F’s LMX Titanium emerged victorious among the manly models. Created to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the brand’s Legacy Machines and limited to a release of just 33 pieces, it sports the dynamic 3D dial with central flying balance wheel and two dials of its first predecessor. Complex yet practical, this 44mm titanium creation is further burnished with a dual time function for tracking two time zones simultaneously. The mechanism under the hood – MB&F’s manual-winding 367-part movement with robust seven-day power reserve – is equally impressive.
Artistic Crafts Watch Prize
MB&F picked up a second GPHG gong for LM SE Eddy Jaquet ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’, a watch inspired by the eponymous Jules Verne novel and one of a set of eight unique creations crafted in collaboration with master engraver Eddy Jaquet. Punctuated with an hours-and-minutes display, date indicator and power reserve aperture, the dial is dominated by scenes from Phileas Fogg’s adventures, all painstakingly engraved by Jaquet directly onto the mainplate of the manual-winding LM Split Escapement movement.
Calendar and Astronomy Watch Prize
Dutch horology brand Christiaan van der Kraauw’s CVDK Planetarium Eise Eisinga nabbed this prize thanks in no small part to it housing the world’s smallest mechanical heliocentric planetarium. Located on the bottom half of the 40mm design’s blue fascia, this tracks the real-time locations of the first six planets in our solar system as they orbit around the sun. Its self-winding movement serves up a 96-hour power reserve, while a pink gold case and elegant alligator leather strap completes the look of sophistication.
Challenge Watch Prize
Another outer space-inspired creation to achieve pole position was Shenzhen-based company CIGA Design’s Blue Planet, which snapped up the coveted Challenge Watch Prize. Limited to a release of just 50 pieces, the 46mm titanium model’s dominant motif is the miniature Earth – micro-carved to replicate our planet’s exact terrain as viewed from the North Pole – that rotates to indicate the hour via a mariner symbol along its edge. The minute hand, meanwhile, has been replaced with a rotating minute chapter ring, ensuring that nothing blemishes its aesthetic beauty.
A more minimalist design scored big for innovation: German independent watchmaker Bernhard Lederer’s Central Impulse Chronometer. Crafted from white gold, its sleek dial boasts a semi-skeletonised finish that reveals the inner movement via the two open-worked small-seconds apertures at 8 and 10 o’clock. While the rest of the face is covered, its caseback is wholly transparent, affording direct views of the mechanical-winding Calibre 9012 movement, replete with a cutting-edge escapement system.
“Aiguille d’Or” Grand Prix
Bulgari’s Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar grabbed the highest honour this year. Long heralded for creating the world’s slimmest designs, the brand’s latest model broke yet another record as the thinnest perpetual calendar ever made. At just 5.8mm in depth, the 40mm titanium creation burnished in the brand’s signature octagonal shape is amazingly able to tell the day, date and month without any need for adjustment until the year 2100. A masterclass of precision engineering and haute horological know-how, it sets a new benchmark for fine watchmaking.