As of January 1st, 2018, the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) has a new president: Mr Raymond Loretan. He took over the helm from his predecessor Carlo Lamprecht, who, together with Mrs Carine Maillard, director of the GPHG foundation, has built the GPHG to what it is today. What they achieved in only 17 years is very impressive! In addition to welcoming the new president, there are two more prize categories that we wanted to find out more about. MONOCHROME sat down with Raymond Loretan and Carine Maillard to talk about the GPHG’s past and future.
MONO: Raymond Loretan, what was your journey like to get where you are?
Raymond Loretan (RL): An experience of 30-years in diplomacy, business, media and politics. My approach to accepting a new function has always been the same: it must be the addition of my past activities combined with a new challenge. It is the case with the GPHG and I am very much looking forward to this new adventure.
MONO: What have you learned, discovered or did not expect when taking over this new position?
RL: First and foremost I am thankful to my predecessor Carlo Lamprecht, and Carine Maillard, for the great job they accomplished in terms of sustainability and internationalization of the GPHG. The foundations are solid. My first year – the learning time – will be a time of observation and exchange with the different partners. And I am going to push the reflection about transforming the selection process from a traditional jury to a kind of academy inspired by the model of the “Oscars” and try to shape the present GPHG into an International Grand Prix. This process will require a lot of concertation, including with other organizations of the watch industry. A very motivating project!
MONO: Carine Maillard, after 17 editions, the GPHG is an unmissable event of the watch year. What are the next steps, and what is your ambition?
Carine Maillard (CM): To continue growing in terms of both reputation and representativeness. With this in mind, we are working on setting up an Academy for the profession, on the lines of the Oscars and their Academy Awards, which would serve to unite stakeholders in various sectors of the watch industry. The members of this Academy will designate the nominated watches, serving as a kind of grand jury playing its role in the first round of voting.
MONO: Could you tell us about the evolution of the rules of the Grand Prix?
CM: Two new Prizes are being introduced in 2018. First, the Challenge Prize, reserved for watches retailing for less than 4,000 CHF. This award highlights the challenge of creating affordably-priced, quality watches. The GPHG’s mission is to reward excellence in all price segments and this new distinction is joining the ‘Petite Aiguille’ prize for models priced between 4,000 and 10,000 CHF. We hope that this new prize will encourage other brands to take part in this competition by providing them with an opportunity for recognition.
The other newcomer is the Audacity Prize, an optional award that will enable the jury to honour a bold, anti-conformist and offbeat model. It aims to foster creative freedom. These two prizes are aligned with current trends and provide us with even more extensive ways of saluting the excellence of watchmaking creations in all their magnificent diversity. This year will also see the launch of our digital platform that will enable media and brands to enjoy instant access to images and videos so as to ensure swift circulation on social media and through other channels.
MONO: Any changes with regards to the organization?
CM: As you mentioned, we have a new president. He took up his role in January of this year, thereby succeeding Carlo Lamprecht who had been chairing the Foundation since its creation in 2011. This change of president can be seen as marking the start of a new era. While holding fast to the course we have set, we are also considering new forms of cooperation and fresh developments.
MONO: Any changes with regards to the jury?
CM: Like every year, a quarter of the jury has been renewed. Our 2018 jury, chaired by Aurel Bacs, brings together the expertise of 31 members of various nationalities and from a wide range of backgrounds. Alongside these acknowledged experts representing different sectors of the industry – including famous watchmakers, collectors and retailers, listed as from May 1st on our www.gphg.org website – we annually invite someone bringing an external vision that one might describe as an aesthete’s standpoint. After designer Philippe Starck, architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte and fashion designer Chantal Thomass, this year’s jury is delighted to welcome Swiss actor and film director Vincent Perez. Through two rounds of voting on models competing for 17 prizes, the jury will be entrusted with the delicate task of acknowledging the expertise and excellence of worldwide watch creations.
MONO: Which markets do you plan to visit for the 2018 roadshow?
CM: The 72 pre-selected watches will notably be exhibited in Singapore, Hong Kong and Geneva. We will announce the full detailed schedule in June.