Quill & Pad’s Predictions For The 2015 Aiguille d’Or, The Top Prize Of The Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève
by Ian Skellern
Welcome to the 2015 edition of Quill & Pad’s early Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) predictions in which we pick our favorites and explain why.
Our panelists are:
Ian Skellern (IS), co-founder and technical director of Quill & Pad
Joshua Munchow (JM), resident nerd writer
GaryG (GG), resident collector
Note: as a GPHG jury member, Quill & Pad editor-in-chief Elizabeth Doerr is excluded from these predictions.
According to the GPHG’s rules, the Aiguille d’Or rewards the best overall watch among all categories and is the most prestigious award.
JM: The true champion of the 2015 GPHG is awarded the Aiguille d’Or and bragging rights as the best watch of the year. This is always a tough one to pick, because the jury will have different things it is looking for, and depending on who may have won individual categories (which the jury members might be able to surmise given the discussions), it could really go many ways. So I have gone with a somewhat loose guesstimate for the top three, and I could be totally wrong!
IS: I will take the definition of the Aiguille d’Or to mean that it should be selected from one of my previously predicted category winners, because if I didn’t think a watch was special enough to win its category, why would I think it the best watch overall?
So the pool I have to select a “champion of champions” from is: HYT H3, Tudor Pelagos, Tudor North Flag, A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Minute Repeater, Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Vision, MB&F Horological Machine No. 6, Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Laptimer Michael Schumacher, Piaget Extremely Piaget Double Sided Cuff Watch, Romain Gauthier Logical One Secret Kakau Höfke, Hermès Slim d’Hermès QP, DeLaneau Rondo 42 Peony, Fabergé Lady Compliquée Peacock, and the Laurent Ferrier Galet Square.
After my first filter, I’ve narrowed down that extensive list to the following six: the HYT H3, Tudor Pelagos, A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Minute Repeater, Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Vision, MB&F Horological Machine No. 6, and the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Laptimer Michael Schumacher.
GG: For this final “best in show” category, I used a somewhat different logic than for the other categories, in which the task was to pick a top three from among the nominated watches and rank-order them.
This time, I used a process of elimination, starting with all twelve of the watches that I projected as winners in the individual categories – and by doing so eliminating some of the pieces that my learned fellow panelists selected as group winners.
After pondering my list of twelve, I identified eight that I thought were legitimate contenders for the top honor. That’s a pretty good ratio, I think!
The next round got me down to six, and I’d like to call all of them out here: Fabergé Lady Compliquée Peacock, Laurent Ferrier Galet Square, Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Laptimer Michael Schumacher, MB&F HM6, Akrivia Striking Hours, and Jaquet Droz Charming Bird.
For me, each of these in its own way exemplifies what I love about watchmaking.
IS: I followed a similar elimination process to you, Gary, and we have two watches in common: the MB&F HM6 and Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Laptimer Michael Schumacher.
JM: I chose two runners-up, the first of which represents some of the best of old-school watchmaking mixed with popular style: the A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Minute Repeater. This watch is classic in almost every sense of the word, and yet modern with every innovation put into the movement.
A decimal repeater is also rather rare, so a decimal repeater with digital time display and atypical gong design stands out in every selection of fine timepieces. The only reason I really don’t think it will win is due to the fact that last year was a great year for A. Lange & Söhne at the GPHG and I think the love will be spread elsewhere this year.
I do think the trend of recognizing the independents will continue, and my first runner up and the winner will be from that area of horology. For the first runner-up I chose the Emmanuel Bouchet Complication One.
This watch is a stunner and it provides proof not of innovation or tradition, but of simply a different approach by an independent. The complication in Complication One is definitely for the mechanically curious, and I think that the design and effort will be highly regarded for a very cool watch.
IS: That first cull was difficult enough, but choosing the best of the best from a list solely comprising exceptional timepieces is incredibly hard. But I’m not one to shirk my duty, matter how onerous, and will dive straight in to the deep end. Drum roll please. My prediction for the 2015 Aiguille d’Or is the . . . Tudor Pelagos.
When we are talking about the best of the best, the champion of champions, the nec plus ultra of high end watchmaking, money isn’t usually a factor because we are judging excellence here, not value for money (though the latter would be an excellent category in future editions of the Grand Prix).
However, the fact that the Tudor Pelagos is a superlative watch by any measure AND is the cheapest by at least a factor of ten than any of my other contenders speaks volumes for why this is such a deserving Aiguille d’Or winner.
You can read about why I chose the Tudor Pelagos as the best Sports watch in Quill & Pad’s Predictions For The Sports Category Of The 2015 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, but here is a recap: in-house manufacture movement featuring three-day power reserve, silicon balance spring with variable inertia oscillator (as used by Rolex), titanium case, 500-meter water resistance, high legibility, distinctive clean design, instantaneous date, and auto-adjustable folding buckle.
In a previous article I wrote, “If I was an environmental inspector at the Rolex headquarters in Geneva, I’d investigate what has contaminated the water supply in the last few years and then take every step possible to ensure that the contamination continues.”
I’d now update that sentence to ” If I was an environmental inspector at the Rolex/Tudor headquarters in Geneva . . .”. Tudor, which until recently has been Rolex’s quiet and unassuming little brother has now grown up! With the Pelagos model, Tudor shows that it has more than enough mettle to stand not only beside its larger sibling, but also (dare I even say this?) above it.
Quick Facts Tudor Pelagos
Case: 42 x 14.3 mm, titanium and ceramic
Movement: automatic in-house Caliber MT5612 with official chronometer certification and 70 hours power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date
Price: 4,200 Swiss francs
Jaquet Droz The Charming Bird
GG: I found it impossible to select a top three, as the watches were so close together, so in addition to declaring a dead heat among my four non-finalists, I came down to two survivors: the Fabergé Lady Compliquée Peacock and the Jaquet Droz Charming Bird, before awarding my “Quillie” to Jaquet Droz for The Charming Bird.
You pretty much had me at “automaton,” Jaquet Droz!
You can read more about this watch in The Whimsical Song Of Jaquet Droz’s Charming Bird.
Quick Facts Jaquet Droz The Charming Bird
Case: 47 x 15.75 mm (23 mm high dome containing the bird), white gold
Movement: automatic Jaquet Droz Caliber 615 with silicon balance spring
Functions: hours, minutes; singing bird
Limitation: 28 pieces
Price: 410,400 Swiss francs
Akrivia Tourbillon Chiming Jump Hour
JM: The winner of the Aiguille d’Or, in my opinion, will be a new brand that has stood out from before the word go. I believe the winner will be none other than the very small brand AkriviA with its Tourbillon Chiming Jump Hour.
I have followed this brand and the two main watchmakers on Instagram for a couple years now, before it even released its first timepiece, and I loved what I saw the whole time. The Tourbillon Chiming Jump Hour is a fun and interesting combination of complications that really shows a broad and honed skill set, not to mention a solid foundation for a brand to build from.
I think the drive and amazing talent of Akrivia will be awarded the Aiguille d’Or this year. And the timepiece definitely deserves the recognition.
Quick Facts Akrivia Tourbillon Chiming Jump Hour
Movement: manually wound in-house caliber with one-minute tourbillon and 100 hours power reserve on one spring barrel
Case: 42.5 x 12.9 mm, stainless steel
Functions: jump hours, minutes; en passant hour chime and silence mode
Price: 180,000 Swiss francs
Ian: Tudor Pelagos
GaryG: Jaquet Droz The Charming Bird
Joshua: Akrivia Tourbillon Chiming Jump Hour
Just a reminder that the prize-giving ceremony for the 2015 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève will take place during a black-tie, red-carpet event at the Grand Théâtre de Genève (Geneva Opera House) on Thursday, October 29, 2015. You will be able to follow the action live here in a livestream on Quill & Pad.