GPHG 2017: The First CutWritten by Melissa Kong
Seventy-two watches are through.
Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Limited Edition 100
Into its 17th edition, the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie (GPHG) is an annual ceremony by the Foundation of the same name, held to honour the best in watchmaking around the world. This year, 72 watches have been pre-selected to compete for 15 prizes in categories that include Travel Time, Artistic Crafts, and the prestigious ‘Aiguille d’Or’ Grand Prix or the ‘Golden Hand’ award, given to the timepiece that the jury thinks is best overall from the various categories.
The stakes have clearly been upped this year with even the Ladies category (traditionally diamond-encrusted tickers) exhibiting more substance in addition to the requisite style. In fact, one of the shortlisted timepieces, Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak Frosted Gold (above), doesn’t even have any diamonds on it. Instead, it features a surface made of hammered gold, resulting in an effect not unlike that of shimmering diamonds.
On the other hand, there’s Urwerk’s UR-106 Flower Power, which boasts no fewer than 239 Top Wesselton diamonds perfectly cut to size and neatly ensconced in a single block of steel. Utilising Urwerk’s iconic satellite indicators, the timepiece features a diamond-studded lotus that acts as a pivot for the satellites while a moonphase complication sits at the bottom of the case, in a show of beauty and brains.
In the men’s category, there are hardly any surprises. A. Lange & Söhne’s Lange 1 Moonphase made the cut, as did Bulgari’s Octo Finissimo Automatic and Grand Seiko’s re-creation of the original Grand Seiko—all watches that got serious attention at this year’s SIHH and Baselworld watch fairs. But with the past few winners in this category being independent brands, we might see Greubel Forsey’s Signature 1 take home the gong, or 2015 winner Voutilainen with his 28ISO Enamel (above) this time around.
Reissues were hot this year and it’s no wonder three made it into the Chronograph category. Longines’ Avigation BigEye (above) is a nod to a 1930s pilot’s watch design, referencing one of its most recent acquisitions as part of its museum’s Heritage collection. Montblanc’s entry, the 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Limited Edition 100 (top), exudes a thoroughly retro vibe with its bronze case, champagne sunray dial, cathedral hands and vintage logo. Based on the Calibre 17.29 designed for pocket- and wristwatches in the 1930s, this new edition beats with the Calibre MB M16.29. And of course, who could forget TAG Heuer’s extensive campaign for fans to vote on which Autavia they should reissue? Created in 1962, the ‘Rindt’ model this year’s edition channels the original worn by the prolific F1 driver, Jochen Rindt.
The Sport category sees some stiff competition with stellar candidates all round, from Grand Seiko’s Hi-Beat 36000 Professional 600m Diver’s watch to Montblanc’s TimeWalker Chronograph Rally Timer Counter Limited Edition 100. Other contenders for the title include Hublot’s collaboration with racing legend Ferrari—the Techframe Ferrari Tourbillon Chronograph (above), Tudor’s Pelagos LHD, Ulysse Nardin’s Marine Regatta and MB&F’s jellyfish-inspired HM7 Aquapod—all noteworthy and truly deserving of recognition.
Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600
Armin Strom Mirrored Force Resonance
But the most hotly-anticipated award—the ‘Aiguille d’Or’ Grand Prix—is really anyone’s guess. Strong contenders include A. Lange & Söhne’s Toubograph Perpetual ‘Pour le Mérite’, Vacheron Constantin’s Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600 or perhaps even Armin Strom’s Mirrored Force Resonance. But whichever timepiece wins the coveted trophy, it’s a hat doff to the ingenuity of modern horology that continues to inspire year after year.
For the full list of pre-selected watches, click here.
Like most people these days, Melissa tells the time with her phone. She considers serious timepieces works of art and thinks the perpetual calendar is the handiest complication to date (pun not intended). She's also a Grammar Nazi but promises not to judge if you can't tell the difference between "guilloche" and "guillotine".