Our Predictions In The Iconic Category Of The 2022 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG): Unanimous Winner In A Redundant Category
Welcome to the 2022 edition of Quill & Pad’s early Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève predictions in which the team picks favorites and explains why.
The panelists are:
Elizabeth Doerr (ED), co-founder and editor-in-chief
Ian Skellern (IS), co-founder and technical director
Joshua Munchow (JM), resident nerd writer
GaryG (GG), resident collector
The Iconic category is for watches from an emblematic collection that has exercised a lasting influence on watchmaking history and the watch market for more than 20 years.
JM: So we’re still doing this are we? Well, when in Rome, as they say! The Iconic category is essentially designed to honor models with real staying power, requiring them to have had a lasting influence as a collection for more than 20 years.
Now you might notice a problem if you are a stickler for semantics: that description does not indicate whether the watch collection or model has to have been made for at least 20 years or whether it could be a new version of a watch that was made over 20 years ago. Normally that isn’t a problem but 30 percent of the watches in the category this year (two out of six models) fall under that second designation, which I find to be outside the spirit of the rules, so that is an automatic disqualification for me. Whether the jury will agree is an entirely different story.
ED: This is a terribly divisive category that tends to produce what seems like the same winners (and even contestants!) year for year. Nonetheless, we will judge what is given.
GG: I’ll confess that this is a category that leaves me a bit cold, not least because having won it upon its re-introduction in 2019 with the Royal Oak, Audemars Piguet has continued to enter this category, and somehow the jury chose to pick another Royal Oak to top the competition in 2021. If we are going to honor watches from “an emblematic collection,” let’s try not to recognize the same collection time after time.
IS: Note to GPHG management: watch brands do not need to be encouraged or rewarded for raiding their back catalogues, please drop the Iconic category. The rules don’t even state that the prize is for best revival/reissue of an iconic watch, but any watch from an iconic collection, so by what criteria should we be judging on? It seems we just pick whichever watch here we like best (for any reasons), and for me it comes down to three watches, one of which is quartz!
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Jumbo Extra-Thin Skeleton
JM: I’m judging this category a little harshly because I am not exactly the biggest fan of the way it works, and if we are to have it then I want to focus on what the intent is: to honor a model that has made an outsized impact on the industry. The category has existed for three years and in those years the AP Royal Oak Jumbo has won twice, so it has been adequately honored as having a lasting impact.
I would like to introduce a new rule that once a model wins it is inducted into the GPHG Iconic hall of fame, which would make it ineligible for entering this specific category. So I say this watch is disqualified for reasons of “Already Awarded As Iconic.” Let’s move on, please.
ED: Absolutely right, Joshua. As Gary already pointed out, the Royal Oak has already won two of the three years in which this category has existed.
GG: Yes, the Royal Oak is an icon, but it has its trophies in this category in hand already.
IS: Not for the first time this year, I’m scratching my head wondering how a watch was chosen, and this time it’s the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. The Royal Oak is no doubt an iconic watch, and I’ll even bestow iconic status on the Royal Oak Jumbo.
If the Royal Oak Jumbo Extra-Thin ever reached iconic status I missed it. But that’s all by-the-by because this Extra-Thin Openworked will not win in 2022 because a Royal Oak Jumbo Extra-Thin won the GPHG Iconic prize in 2019. And I think that the hive mind of the jury will remember that.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Jumbo Extra-Thin Skeleton
Case: 39 x 8.1 mm, stainless steel
Movement: automatic skeletonized Caliber 7124, just 2.4 mm in height; 57-hour power reserve; 28,800 vph/4 Hz frequency
Functions: hours, minutes
Price: 84,900 Swiss francs
Breitling Navitimer B01 Chronograph 43
GG: I really like what Breitling has been doing with its updates of its classic pieces, and the Navitimer B01 Chronograph 43 is no exception. Modern and faithful to history at the same time, it’s also appealing with its ice-blue dial. And, of course, it retains the bezel slide rule that makes a Navitimer a Navitimer.
ED: I really like this new edition of the Navitimer, in particular the unusual and striking color scheme. This is truly an iconic watch in terms of impact and what it has brought to the table for aviation enthusiasts and professionals, and this new B01 is a worthy continuation.
IS: The Breitling Navitimer B01 Chronograph 43 is another of my nearly tied top three here that could easily win the prize. It’s definitely iconic, and I like the laid-back blue dial. At 43 mm it’s large, as a pilot’s watch should be, but not overly so.
Going against this watch’s chances is the fact that Breitling won both the Petite Aiguille and Diver’s categories at the 2020 GPHG, and this Iconic category is really more of a whose-turn-is-it-next award.
JM: There are Breitling watches I love, but I’ve never gotten into the Navitimer for the simple reason that it feels overly detailed and busy for any use I would have. But I understand that it is often considered the grail pilot’s watch for many and has been an extremely popular model for decades.
There is no doubt that this watch is an icon for pilots and those aspiring to be, but I wonder if that will be a broad enough umbrella to take this category, especially up against a different iconic pilot’s watch in the same category. Since the Navitimer can be divisive based on its looks, I have to put this one as my second runner up as I think it won’t win the jury over enough.
Quick Facts Breitling Navitimer B01 Chronograph 43
Case: 43 x 13.6 mm, stainless steel
Movement: automatic Caliber 01 with 70-hour power reserve, 28,800 vph/4 Hz frequency; official C.O.S.C. chronometer certification
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date, chronograph
Price: CHF 8,500
Girard-Perregaux Casquette 2.0
ED: The original quartz timepiece was known only as Reference 9931 in its own time; it was produced only from 1976 to 1978. During that period, Girard-Perregaux produced 8,200 examples. The “Casquette” moniker was a nickname given to it by collectors.
While it is a quirky and cute piece of watch history, I don’t believe it had a lasting impact on anything except MB&F and a few other brands, who produced a handful of limited-edition watches inspired by the shape.
JM: Like I mentioned with the AP Royal Oak, I said I was going to be harsh for this category, and sadly it applies to this watch as well. The original Casquette was only produced for two years in the mid-seventies and there were barely more than 8,000 examples made. Has that watch gained a cult following for its rarity and uniqueness among collectors? Heck yeah! Does that make it an enduring model for more than 20 years? Not in any way whatsoever.
It was made over 20 years ago, sure, but that doesn’t mean it has 20 years of history as a model, so under my reading of the rules it is straight up disqualified. I still think it’s an awesome watch and am happy that Girard-Perregaux gave it a second chance at life, but it doesn’t fit the bill for this category.
GG: The Girard-Perregaux Casquette 2.0 is an interesting case: as an improved re-edition of a single watch not produced since its initial run, does it qualify as coming from an emblematic collection? Certainly the idea of a digital display had an influence we see everywhere today, so I’ll allow this one but for my money it’s no Heuer Gulf.
IS: Quartz? I’m into mechanical watches, and the GPHG celebrates fine mechanical watchmaking so thanks, Girard-Perregaux, for making my life easier by giving me an easy watch to rule out just for being quartz. And I prefer flowing curves to angular lines, so why do I keep wanting to look at it again and feeling like I want one?
Functions? Take a deep breath: hours, minutes, seconds, date, day, month, year, dual time, chronograph, and secret date. Because it’s quartz.
The GP Casquette is definitely iconic and this 2.0 version both honors the original design (including the vintage red LED display) and offers much more functionality (the original displayed only hours, minutes, seconds, and date). Casquette 2.0 has slightly more angular lines than the original, while a scratch-resistant titanium/ceramic case and bracelet replaces the original’s steel case. The Girard-Perregaux Casquette 2.0 is in my top three.
I’d love the Casquette 2.0 to win because it’s so different to everything else here, and I like stretching boundaries. But the question is whether the GPHG jury thinks the same way. And there are also the hundreds of GPHG Academy members (myself and colleagues here included) that influence the vote (although we don’t know by how much), and the larger the group the more conservative it’s likely to be. The Girard-Perregaux Casquette 2.0 deserves to win, but I don’t think it will.
Quick Facts Girard-Perregaux Casquette 2.0
Case: 42.4 x 33.6 x 14.64 mm, titanium and ceramic
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date, day, month, year, chronograph, second time zone
Limitation: 820 pieces
IWC Schaffhausen Big Pilot’s Watch 43
GG: The IWC Schaffhausen Big Pilot’s Watch 43 with vivid green dial is a perfectly fine watch, but somehow for me it is more “familiar” than “iconic.” That said, it matches the spirit of the category, and I wouldn’t object if the jury picked it out of this group.
JM: The IWC Big Pilot’s Watch is what I would consider the truly iconic pilot’s watch design, something that has been emulated by so many brands that it is often the first thing you think of when someone says, “pilot’s watch.”
IWC has been integral in keeping this design in the cultural milieu for decades and it is usually the brand many associate with the design. But the flieger design was not specific to IWC even from the start, so there is a little asterisk next to its name in my book when you say it is the definitive pilot’s watch. It is for many reasons, but it is a shared history with a whole host of other brands as well. For that reason, I have it as my first runner up as I think the jury will look very kindly on it, but it might still fall short next to my chosen winner.
ED: Jeez, that’s expensive for a time-only steel watch. And I can’t see any reason why it should be so.
IS: The IWC Big Pilot’s Watch 43 is too big a watch for my small wrists, but it is an iconic model and that’s no easy task for a traditional round watch with no outstanding features but (and it’s a big but) everything just works.
It’s a pilot’s watch so the dial should be large, reading the time should be very legible, and an oversized crown makes it easier to wind and set when piloting a plane with gloves (as so many of us do) – and this green-dialed Big Pilot’s Watch nails them all. I can easily see it winning this year and it must be coming up to IWC’s turn to win this back-slapping prize this year. The IWC Big Pilot’s Watch 43 is in my top three.
Quick Facts IWC Schaffhausen Big Pilot’s Watch 43
Case: 43 x 13.6 mm, stainless steel
Movement: automatic Caliber 82100 with ceramic components and Pellaton winding system, 60-hour power reserve, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency, officially certified C.O.S.C. chronometer
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds
Price: 9,200 Swiss francs
Remark: quick-change strap system
TAG Heuer Monaco x Gulf
JM: The TAG Heuer Monaco is one of the most iconic watches in all of motorsports for one reason alone: Steve McQueen. The impact that he had on popular culture cannot be understated, and the public awareness of this watch and its resulting iconic status was known to me before I was even aware of watches in general. That is how widely known this watch was.
For that reason alone, I don’t think it can be argued it isn’t the most iconic in this category, and unlike the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch, the design originated with Heuer alone. I would guess that the jury will understand how important it was to both popular culture and watchmaking history and award it accordingly. The jury may go another way, but it seems like the Monaco should be the clear winner this year.
GG: Perhaps because I’m old enough to remember the glory days of Gulf in racing, my pick in this category is the TAG Heuer Monaco x Gulf. The Monaco clearly meets the criterion of having had a lasting influence over the past 20 or more years, and with Gulf livery it evokes the flash and screaming sound of a Porsche tearing down the straight at Le Mans. An icon among icons, in my estimation.
ED: I know this one should be my winner here just from a logical standpoint. And as much as I love the Monaco altogether – and the Gulf editions in particular – this year another from this category has stolen my heart. However, I am going to call this watch my winner as I think it stands for so many things a truly iconic watch should: lasting impact, innovative design, and cultural significance among them.
IS: The TAG Heuer Monaco is an iconic (even legendary) model, and this Gulf edition nails it. Another Monaco, the TAG Heuer Monaco Eighties, made the finals in the 2019 GPHG Iconic category, which was won by the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Jumbo Extra-thin (which is also represented here). With a rectangular case size of 39 mm x 47.4 mm, it’s a large watch, and one that has put on a few pounds from the original version, which was nearly square at 38 mm x 40 mm.
It really was a close call, but I think that the Monaco x Gulf will win the 2022 GPHG Iconic prize.
TAG Heuer Monaco Heuer 02 Gulf Special Edition: Revving Up With A Bold Color Scheme
The Real Story Behind Steve McQueen’s Heuer Monaco: Exclusive Interview With ‘Le Mans’ Property Master Don Nunley
Quick Facts TAG Heuer Monaco x Gulf
Case: 39 x 47.4 x 15.1 mm, stainless steel
Movement: automatic Caliber Heuer 02, 80-hour power reserve, 28,800 vph/4 Hz frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date, chronograph
Price: CHF 7,250
Zenith Defy Revival A3642
JM: Just like with the Girard-Perregaux, this watch has not been a constant or mainstay in the industry and the model was only produced for a short while. This specific version is from one model year.
But I think the most specific part of its name that disqualifies it is that it is called the Revival. Before the Iconic category existed, the GPHG awarded the Revival prize for watches just like this, and it wasn’t a category but rather a special jury award because it was a little bit on the nose to push brands to just remake watches they previous made (yet that was effectively the result). So for both of those reasons I don’t think it really fits with this category, even if it is an awesome watch and the original has been a rare collector’s item.
I have to disqualify it from this category, and I think if this category continues in the future I will have to continue this practice just in the hopes that we have a more meaningful purpose to the category aside from “what long-lost model can we remake to win an award.” I love Zenith and the Defy collection, but this just doesn’t make sense for this category.
ED: The size, the visuals, the gorgeous details – this reboot of the Zenith Defy A3642 just does it for me. It’s even reasonably priced! In fact, it’s the most reasonably priced watch in this category after the quartz GP Casquette. I love this watch, but it is sadly my runner up because it wasn’t around for the last 20 years and had no chance to influence the market. That doesn’t change my love for its cool retro design and appreciation for its significance within Zenith’s own brand history.
IS: The Zenith El Primero was (and is) an iconic watch; the Zenith Defy isn’t. The Defy Revival A3642 is a nice-looking watch. I’m not a fan of dials and cases too large for the movement (30 mm movement in 43 mm case), in this case it is consistent with the original design. But those four-line hour markers ruin the look for me. Pass.
GG: The Zenith Defy Revival A3642 faithfully reproduces the first Defy model from 1969, but there are perhaps some designs that are best left in the archives, and for me this piece with its dated look is one of them.
Quick Facts Zenith Defy Revival A3642
Case: 37 x 13.6 mm, stainless steel
Movement: automatic Caliber Elite 670, power reserve 50 hours, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date
Limitation: 250 pieces
Price: 6,900 Swiss francs
Elizabeth: TAG Heuer Monaco x Gulf
Ian: TAG Heuer Monaco x Gulf
Joshua: TAG Heuer Monaco x Gulf
Gary: TAG Heuer Monaco x Gulf
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