This is it, the 2018 edition of the GPHG, known as the “Oscars of the watchmaking industry”, has come to a close and the prize for the best watch of the year, also known as the “Aiguille d’Or”, has been awarded. Once again this year, complications, creativity and Haute Horlogerie have been rewarded. Meet the best watch of 2018, the Bovet Récital 22 Grand Récital – reviewed here – an impressively complex astronomical watch, as well as all the other prize winners of the GPHG 2018.
Quick analysis: this year, independent watchmakers are at centre stage. No fewer than 9 prizes (total of 17 prizes) have rewarded the creativity of smaller brands, which are not under the control of mainstream luxury groups. Bovet (with the best of show “Aiguille d’Or”), Krayon, Akrivia, Laurent Ferrier, Singer, De Bethune, Greubel Forsey, Habring² and Konstantin Chaykin will all return home with one of the Golden Hand prizes. This is a clear sign of the importance of these “niche” brands, which might not sell thousands of watches but have a strong influence on the market. Bravo!
Aiguille d’Or 2018 – Bovet Récital 22 Grand Récital
This year, the best watch of the show – or “Aiguille d’Or” – is given to Bovet and its impressive Récital 22 Grand Récital. This watch – reviewed here – combines several technical and astronomical complications: hours indicated by a rotating Earth with day/night indication, retrograde minutes, one-minute tourbillon, power reserve indicator, retrograde perpetual calendar and precision moon phase. In addition to that, it is a masterpiece of precision and decoration – as explained in our video here. The brand has drastically increased its presence and its mastery. Congratulations on this superb watch. A well deserved prize from the GPHG 2018.
Special Jury Prize – Jean-Claude Biver
The Special Jury Prize goes to Jean-Claude Biver, the non-executive President of the LVMH Group Watch division, Chairman of Hublot & Zenith – and former CEO of the LVMH Group Watch division, after stepping down from his operational responsibilities.
Jean-Claude Biver (born September 20, 1949) is a Luxembourg businessman who started his career at Audemars Piguet as sales manager for Europe. He then left AP to become product manager at Omega. This is when he decided with Jacques Piguet to purchase the rights to Blancpain (which had gone out of business in the 1970s). In 1981, he restarted the brand, created a complete collection and achieved a turnover of CHF 50m in the early 1990s. In 1992, Biver sold Blancpain to SMH Group (now known as Swatch Group) for CHF 60m, a steep turnaround considering he bought the rights for CHF 22,000.
After the sale of Blancpain, Biver joined the board of directors of Swatch Group and was involved in restructuring Omega. Biver left Omega in 2003.
In 2004, Jean-Claude Biver joined Hublot as CEO and board member. Hublot was bought by LVMH in 2008 and JCB integrated the group as CEO of the Watch division, in charge of Hublot, TAG Heuer and Zenith. He stayed in this position until earlier this year when he decided to step down from his operational responsibilities.
Revival Prize – Vacheron Constantin Historiques Triple Calendrier 1942
The revival prize is given to a watch which features a contemporary re-edition or reinterpretation of an iconic historical model.
This year, the Vacheron Constantin Historiques Triple Calendrier 1942 takes home the trophy (as we expected) with its beautiful complication and design.
Innovation Prize – Krayon Everywhere Horizon
An ultra complex piece, the Krayon Everywhere can display Sunrise and Sunset Indications all over the world – an impressive mechanical calculator, which also indicates time by hours, minutes and seconds. The version that wins the prize this year is the latest diamond-adorned edition.
Ladies’ Watch Prize – Chanel Boy-friend Skeleton
The best ladies’ watch goes to Chanel and its Boy-Friend Skeleton. Not only is its movement beautiful but the style is clearly contemporary, with a mix of feminine and masculine elements.
Ladies’ Complication Watch Prize – Van Cleef & Arpels Lady Arpels Planétarium
Again another merited prize, with the Van Cleef & Arpels Lady Arpels Planétarium – a complex watch with unique planetarium complications (of course, designed by Van der Klaaw).
Men’s Watch Prize – Akrivia Chronomètre Contemporain
The best men’s watch goes to independent watchmaker Akrivia and its Chronomètre Contemporain. An impressive award considering the rest of the competing watches, however, a well-deserved prize knowing how talented this young watchmaker is – his movements have an impressive level of decoration. A nice recognition of the work of Rexhep Rexhepi.
Men’s Complication Prize – Laurent Ferrier Galet Annual Calendar School Piece
For the men’s complication watch, the jury has chosen the elegant and mechanically interesting Laurent Ferrier Galet Annual Calendar School Piece. Not only is the watch superbly designed and finished, but its movement is clever when it comes to the correction of the calendar indications. Again, well deserved.
Chronograph Watch Prize – Singer Reimagined Singer Track1 Hong Kong Edition
The Singer Reimagined Track 1 (Hong Kong edition) and its super-innovative chronograph movement by Agenhor are (finally) rewarded as the best chronograph of the year 2018. With its central indication and its incredibly complex movement (which is extremely easy to use), it is a justified prize.
Chronometry Watch Prize – De Bethune DB25 Starry Varius Chronomètre Tourbillon
When it comes to precision and chronometry, De Bethune certainly knows a thing or two (to say the least). There’s then good reasons for the DB25 Starry Varius Chronomètre Tourbillon to receive the prize in the Chronometry Watch category this year – in addition to the superb look of the watch.
Mechanical Exception Watch Prize – Greubel Forsey Grande Sonnerie
As we expected, the Mechanical Exception Watch Prize goes to Greubel Forsey with its Grande Sonnerie watch – not only is the grande sonnerie an ultra-complex mechanical achievement in itself, but Greubel Forsey adds several protections to the movement and its usual superlative decoration.
Sports Watch Prize – Seiko Prospex 1968 Diver’s Re-creation
For the Sports Watch Prize, the GPHG 2018 awards the Seiko Prospex 1968 Diver’s Re-creation, a vintage re-edition of the first hi-beat dive watch created by Seiko in 1968. This proves, once again, that Seiko is a very serious contender in this over-crowded market of the sports watch.
Jewellery Watch Prize – Van Cleef & Arpels Secret de Coccinelle
Artistic Crafts Watch Prize – Hermès Arceau Robe du Soir
Petite Aiguille Prize – Habring2 Doppel-Felix
The “Petite Aiguille” prize covers watches with a retail price between CHF 4,000 and CHF 10,000. Smartwatches are admitted in this category. This year, the great Habring2 Doppel-Felix, a rattrapante chronograph for EUR 8,000 and produced independently by a small atelier in Austria took home the prize – but it isn’t the first time for Richard and Maria Habring. Considering the value for the money, a well deserved award.
Challenge Watch Prize – Nomos Glashütte Tangente Neomatik 41 Update
A new category this year. Only watches with a retail price under CHF 4,000 can compete. Smartwatches are admissible in this category too. Nomos with the Tangente Neomatik 41 Update receives the prize. The GPHG 2018 kept its choice rather conservative, instead of going for one of the competing microbrands.
Audacity Prize – Konstantin Chaykin Clown
No doubt… The Konstantin Chaykin Clown is a very, very audacious watch.