The Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG), considered the “Oscars of Watchmaking,” is the watch industry’s most prominent award. Every summer, like clockwork (heh), the organization reveals a long list of candidates — a whopping 195 this year — to be judged in twelve separate categories, ranging from best general men’s watch to categories for specific complications to categories that consider value. Additionally, there are prizes that all watches from every group are eligible for, including the Aiguille d’Or (best-of-show), the Revival prize for best reissue and the Audacity price — awarded to oddball and non-conformist approaches to watchmaking, a new award for this year.
Speaking of audacity, this year smartwatches will be eligible for competition, and TAG Heuer’s ceramic-cased Connected smartwatch and Hublot’s World Cup Referee smartwatch will both be competing, and there’s a possibility either could take home that award. Similarly, a new “Challenge” category was introduced this year, with a focus on watches that cost 4,000 Swiss francs ($4,010) or less.
As to who will win what, that’s for a jury of 31 watch experts to decide come November. We don’t get to have an official say, but we can sure as hell have opinions. Were we to choose, these would be eight of our winners. You can also see the full list of watches here.
Men’s: Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight
This could battle under the Sports Watch category (and win), but it’s also a contender for best overall men’s watch. When we reviewed it earlier this summer, we loved the authentic vintage styling, the movement and most importantly, the absolutely perfect proportions. Given that the Fifty-Eight brings back some of the tactile glory of vintage Submariners, there’s a good chance this could win the Revival prize, as well.
Men’s Complication: Vacheron Constantin Overseas Perpetual Calendar
There are lots of high-flying complications up for consideration in this category, but the good ol’ perpetual calendar remains a watch nerd favorite and is in particularly refined form here. The case of the Overseas is just 8.1mm thick, making it incredibly slim for such a tricky complication, and the overall design is achingly beautiful.
Chronograph: Montblanc 1858 Monopusher
This piece s inspired by the Minerva chronographs of the 1920s and ’30s, considered by many to be some of the best of their time. Today, Minerva is still making movements for Montblanc, and that’s what we see in this compact chronograph. The movement inside is beautifully-finished hand-winder contained in a relatively slim 12.2mm-thick watch.
Chronometry: Zenith Defy Zero G
The Chronometry category is reserved for watches with tourbillons or a unique escapement design, which is definitely what we have here in the Zenith Defy G. At the heart of the movement is a gyroscopic escapement rotating on all axes, ostensibly to cancel out the effect gravity has on accuracy. That’s to say nothing of the fact that the watch is also running at 36,000 beats per hour, making it a full-fledged high-beat watch, to boot.
Mechanical Exception: Girard-Perregeaux Minute Repeater Tri-Axial Tourbillon
The Mechanical Exception category is reserved for the biggest horological heavy-hitters, and we can think of few watches as heavy-hitting than one that includes a triple-axial tourbillon and a minute repeater and movement finishing that looks simultaneously traditional and modern. Given that Mechanical Exception pieces are usually the biggest Aiguille d’Or contenders, it could likely take home that award, too.
Sports: Seiko Prospex SLA025
Who says you can’t have a rugged dive watch build and mechanical innovation in one package? In 1968 — three years after it launched its first dive watch — Seiko unveiled the reference 6159-7001, the first dive watch with a high-beat (36,000 bph) movement. This is a hyper-accurate reproduction of that watch and also another possible Revival winner.
Petite Aiguille: Habring² Doppel-Felix
The Petite Aiguille category is for watches retailing between 4,000 and 10,000 Swiss francs, and this chronograph from indie watchmaker Habring² represents some incredible value for the money in that range. It features an in-house rattrapante (aka: split-seconds) chronograph, one of the most difficult chronograph types to master.
Challenge: Seiko Presage SPB073 Shippo Enamel
Can you name any other watchmakers offering up an honest-to-god enamel-dialed watches for around $2,000? Seiko made quite a splash with its original run of enamel dial dress watches, but this year’s release of the Shippo Dial Presage takes it a step further. It gets a gorgeous blue hue, as well as guilloche texturing. There’s also an in-house automatic movement, featuring a power reserve indicator.
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