One of the innovators behind Greubel Forsey on the role of independence and skills transference in fine watchmaking
With the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie Genève coming up, here’s our pick of this year’s category leaders
The jury of the 18th Grand Prix d’Horlogerie Genève (GPHG) has announced its pre-selection short list for the event in November this year.
A total of 72 watches have been divided into 12 categories (including two women’s categories). And each watchmaker present will be vying for one of 16 prizes, including the prestigious, industry-defining Aiguille d’Or Grand Prix.
But with so many weird and wonderful timepieces on show, which will be the headline stealers?
For each of the 10 men’s categories, we’ve chosen a particular watch we think you should keep a watchful (pun intended) eye on.
De Bethune — DB28 Steel Wheels
This really is an horological wonder of cosmological proportions. Full of cutting edge technologies and an artistic masterpiece in its own right, De Bethune’s interstellar-looking timepiece has much to marvel at.
But the piece de resistance is the manufacture’s signature spherical moon composed of palladium and blued steel. Appearing against its night-sky backdrop at 6 o’clock, it spins on its axis with such precision that it will take 122 years to accumulate a one-day discrepancy. Out of this world.
Konstantin Chaykin — Clown
Category: Petite Aiguille
No, this is not a joke. The Russian watchmaker and inventor has created something at once, quirky, cool and gratifyingly absurd.
Konstantin Chaykin believes that it’s not sufficient for the classical mechanical watch to have only the chronometric accuracy and high-quality assembling today. In addition, they have to convey emotions for their owner and possess an accurately formulated art message.
On the clown’s face, the brightly coloured pupils and the red elements on the dial, are reminiscent of the anti-hero from the 2017 re-release of “IT” and of the director Andres Mousquetti.
Bvlgari — Octo Finissimo
Category: Men’s complication
How thin can you get?... it’s a question Bvlgari has answered with incredible craftsmanship. They’ve given us a new breakthrough in extreme horological slenderness. Just 3.95mm thick, the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic claims a new watch industry record for the fourth time.
Measuring just 1.95mm thick and endowed with a 52-hour power reserve, Calibre BVL 288 Finissimo is housed in a sandblasted titanium case revealing the entirely open-worked skeleton movement displaying all its internal organs. Skinny dipping, anyone?
TAG Heuer — Monaco
After Bamford was announced as the exclusive customisation partner of TAG Heuer last year, we were waiting for something like this to come along. And the blacked-out, blue accented carbon iteration of the 1969 classic Monaco TAG hasn’t disappointed, building on the heritage of the piece that was the world’s first square chronograph (a fact that makes it a strong favourite in this category alone.)
It’s an aggressive design, holding nothing back in its square case and sharp ‘aquablue’ detailing: The perfect companion for a timepiece linked with the high-octane roar of the racetracks the watch is associated with.
Ulysses Nardin — Executive Tourbillon
You might feel like you’re floating around in space, untethered from your mother ship, if you spend too long looking into the face of Ulysses Nardin’s executive tourbillon. Such is its space age, roaming satellite aesthetic.
Free-floating components under space-age crystal: Ulysse Nardin’s most spectacular innovation to date literally turns watchmaking upside down. In white or rose gold, with a brand-new movement that seems to defy gravity and a box-domed sapphire, the Executive Tourbillon Skeleton “Free Wheel” stands alone in its own orbit.
Ground Control to Major Nardin…
Greubel Forsey – Grande Sonnerie
Category: Mechanical exception
This is Greubel Forsey’s most complicated watch to date. And this luxury watchmaker likes to make a complicated timepiece. This piece took the founders, Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey, 11 years worth of research and over 900 assembled parts to come up with. And it’s not hard to see why.
Take the on-demand, crown-mounted pusher minute repeater for instance. Much like a stringed instrument, the titanium acoustic resonance cage was developed inside the caseband. The pure crystalline strike is transmitted thanks to one-piece double cathedral gongs – on three levels – that are visible through the tourbillon’s lateral window. Yes, you read that right: Cathedral gongs inside a watch.
Fabergé — Vissionaire Chronograph Dynamique
Fabergé’s dynamic addition to its revered Visionnaire Chronograph range is this titanium and black ceramic piece. Framed by digits in orange for an edgier aesthetic, the result is wholly modern, bold and confident.
The way the hours and minutes are read at the periphery of the watch dial while the chronograph function takes centre stage, is a satisfyingly small detail but one that looks delightful. It’s a practical design cue: it allows greater accuracy in chronograph reading, which is paramount when the seconds matter.
Antoine Preziuso — Trillion Tourbillon of Tourbillons
Diamonds are a man’s best friend, too. This high-precision timepiece was created in collaboration with the eopnymou watchmaker’s son Florian. It’s already claimed the Innovation Watch Prize and the Public Prize at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève. It’s also a one-off. Catch it at the GPHG before it’s forever stored away in the collection of a billionaire’s basement watch collection case.
The Trillion Tourbillon of Tourbillons features three pure-white Top Wesselton G+ solitary trillion diamonds floating on the dial, beside the three tourbillons dancing on a revolving plate, which are connected by a triple-differential gear.
Vacheron Constantin — Les Aerostiers
Category: Artistic Crafts
Vacheron’s Métiers d’Art Les Aérostiers pays homage to the flight of the air balloon in a stunning display of haute horlogerie here. On the dials of the collection, a translucent background in sky blue, dark blue, turquoise, brown or burgundy, evoke a spirit of airy transparency. And the enamelling is equally stunning as the concept. Its layout is reminiscent of cloisonné enamelling; while the absence of a base recalls a miniature stained-glass window. Up, up and away.
Gorilla Fastback — Fastback Drift
This is the first year that smartwatches have been admitted and given their own category at the GPHG — a major sign in itself. And this is one to watch.
Gorilla is a watch brand based in Cressier in the canton of Neuchatel Switzerland and was founded two years ago by former Audemars Piguet Chief Artistic Officer, Octavio Garcia, and former Audemars Piguet Senior Designer Lukas Gopp.
The Drift proprietary Gorilla 5238 wandering hours caliber is a contemporary reinterpretation of a 17th-century horologic mechanism, housed in a uniquely sculpted blend of high-performance materials, purposefully assembled in a sequence and designed to augment the user experience. The Gorilla Fastback Drift is a limited edition intended accessible to a new generation of watch collectors. They’ll never keep King Kong down.
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