In the early hours of the Australian morning, the watch industry was celebrating its night of nights – the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) – more commonly known as the Oscars of watchmaking. Fifteen awards were given – along with a special jury prize for the George Daniels Educational Trust – adding up to a solid mix of safe bets and surprises. So without further ado, here are the best watches of 2016.
“AIGUILLE D’OR” GRAND PRIX
Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud
Chronomètre Ferdinand Berthoud FB 1
Impressive name for an impressive watch. The Chopard-owned brand’s debut piece is distinctive and complex, with a vintage-looking octagonal case and a top-notch, constant force fusée chain tourbillon. Excellence doesn’t come cheap though. The FB 1 has an RRP of 212,000 CHF.
33 bis Quai des Bergues
The only award based on a popular vote, the Czapek Genève is an impressive watch, with its Grand Feu dial and pocket-watch inspired movement. In an interesting sign of the times, it’s also a watch that exists thanks to crowd funding.
REVIVAL WATCH PRIZE
Heuer Monza Chronograph
Ironically, this recent award category is all about looking to the past. And we can’t think of a more deserving winner than the mighty Monza.
ARTISTIC CRAFTS WATCH PRIZE
Protocole XXL Secrets & Lights Venice Micro-Mosaic
Pictures don’t do this watch justice. It’s just incredible. Five thousand glass tiles adorn the case and dial of this watch. How could it not win?
JEWELLERY WATCH PRIZE
Secret Watch Signature Grenat
This is the category where the carats count. And Chanel’s cuff with a secret watch managed to outshine dazzling competition from the likes of Piaget’s pendant and Voutilainen’s stunning casework.
SPORTS WATCH PRIZE
Eberhard & Co.
The sports category is really diverse, with everything from a simple vintage-styled Alpina to incredibly complex Ulysse Nardin and Ressence pieces in the running. Given this mix, we were surprised to see Eberhard’s by-the-book diver take out the gong – but there’s no denying its classic looks.
“PETITE AIGUILLE” PRIZE
Heritage Black Bay Bronze
Of all the awards, this is the one we keep the closest eye on, mostly because by definition the watches are affordable to mere mortals. This year the under 8000 CHF field had some great entries, particularly from Hermès and Seiko. Having said that, Tudor’s latest take on the Black Bay is an excellent choice.
MECHANICAL EXCEPTION WATCH PRIZE
Royal Oak Concept Supersonnerie
Mechanical Exception is a somewhat mixed bag of, well, exceptional watches. And while the AP is unlikely to ever be a volume piece, the incredible amount of research and development involved in its creation makes it a worthy winner.
TRAVEL TIME WATCH PRIZE
Fabergé Visionnaire DTZ
The Travel Time category was another strong grouping, but the new (and innovative) movement and distinctive looks of the Fabergé set it above the rest.
CALENDAR WATCH PRIZE
Legacy Machine Perpetual
MB&F had to win a prize with this watch – beautiful in its complexity and with an astonishing movement designed by Stephen McDonnell. Well done Max and friends!
TOURBILLON WATCH PRIZE
La Esmeralda Tourbillon
Another win for a Girard-Perregaux tourbillon! La Esmeralda is a real stunner and a worthy winner, even though we were gunning for Speake-Marin’s impressive Black Magister Vertical Double Tourbillon.
CHRONOGRAPH WATCH PRIZE
1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Limited Edition
The chronograph category was hotly contested this year, with strong entries from Hublot, Eterna and Louis Monet. But Montblanc’s heritage-inspired limited edition edged out the competition to take the prize.
MEN’S WATCH PRIZE
We’re not sure if the Dutch know what a ‘larrikin’ is, but if you look it up in the dictionary there’s a picture of the Grönefeld brothers. Beyond enjoying the odd beer, they’re also outstanding watchmakers, as the visually (and technically) stunning 1941 Remontoire proves.
LADIES’ HIGH-MECH WATCH PRIZE
Cat’s Eye Tourbillon with Gold Bridge
Girard-Perreguax has an excellent track record with both tourbillons and women’s pieces – so it’s great to see them both combined here. We feel an honourable mention should also go to Ludovic Ballouard’s quirkily creative Upside Down Art Deco.
LADIES’ WATCH PRIZE
Limelight Gala Milanese Bracelet
The sinuous lines and super-supple Milanese bracelet of the Limelight Gala ensured this Piaget was a stand-out in the diamond-studded line-up.