In this final round table discussion, my Quill & Pad colleagues Ian, Joshua, Gary and I discuss the amazing night that was. I am glad to talk about this incredible event and provide a few behind-the-scenes insights. Being on the jury for the third time in a row this year, I knew what to expect and could relax enough to enjoy the discussions and preparations.
Now we get to the real nitty-gritty at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève.: the Aiguille d’Or. There are no ifs, and or buts any more, just a decision on which of the 72 pre-selected watches is the best overall timepiece of the year. It is the most prestigious of the awards given.
Which could be our panel’s favorite to win? The Margot by Christophe Claret? Urwerk EMC? Perhaps the De Bethune DB29 Maxichrono Tourbillon? Or will it be something else entirely?
Just look at the contenders in this heavyweight Tourbillon division: Breguet Classique Tourbillon Extra-Plat Automatique, Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon, Grönefeld Parallax Tourbillon, Montblanc Villeret ExoTourbillon Rattrapante, TAG Heuer Carrera MikroPendulum Tourbillon, and the Blancpain Villeret 12-Day One-Minute Flying Tourbillon. Our panel just managed to reach a majority decision, but it was a close race.
The complications are getting ever more difficult and chiming watches are really at the crossroads of art and craft. Pre-selected in the Striking category are the Hublot Classic Fusion Cathedral Tourbillon Minute Repeater, Claude Meylan La Répétition 5, Urban Jürgensen & Sønner Tourbillon Minute Repeater Regulator, Christophe Claret Soprano, Bulgari Ammiraglio Del Tempo, and Breguet Classique La Musicale.
The pre-selected Calendar watches in the 2014 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève are as varied as they are superb: the A. Lange & Söhne Richard Lange Perpetual Calendar Terraluna, Montblanc Meisterstück Heritage Perpetual Calendar, Van Cleef & Arpels Midnight Planetarium, Breguet Classique Tourbillon Quantième Perpétuel, Zenith Captain Winsor Annual Calendar and the Jaquet Droz Perpetual Calendar Eclipse Ivory Enamel. Which would you choose?
Here’s what our panel thinks of the Men’s watches pre-selelected for the 2014 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève: Breguet Classique Chronométrie, Urban Jürgensen & Sønner Central Second, MB&F LM 101, Tudor Heritage Black Bay, Omega Seamaster 300, and the Bulgari Octo Finissimo. This category only allows men’s watches that do not have extra complications.
The Ladies High-Mech category is for “women’s watches that are remarkable in terms of their mechanical creativity and complexity.” The key words here being “mechanical creativity and complexity.” Our panel believes there is going to be a landslide and for good reason: nothing holds a candle to a certain highly complicated timepiece created for ladies.
The watches in the Ladies category of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève can only feature two of the following functions at most: date, power reserve, classic moon phase, and a second time zone. The watches may be adorned with a maximum of 5 carats of gemstones.
If you’re looking for a fun work of fiction with a serious watch theme to take on your holidays, you might want to go for ‘The Grand Complication’ by Allen Kurzweil. ‘The Grand Complication’ is a quick read, steeped not only in the legends of modern watchmaking, but also appealing to bibliophiles with its many references to literature and libraries.
Early American historian and Harvard professor Laurel Thatcher Ulrich titled her 2008 book ‘Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History.’ Ulrich would probably be very interested to know about three famous Swiss and French brands whose very first wristwatches were made for – and in a way by – women. Their watches have made history.