Why There Were No Winners in the 2023 GPHG Men’s and Mechanical Exception Categories and ‘My’ Proposed Solution to Ensure that it Doesn’t Happen Again
by Ian Skellern
When the 2023 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) awards presentation ceremony finished, I was among the many who thought: what happened to the Men’s and Mechanical Exception categories? Why were no winners of those categories announced?
There has been conjecture, but I didn’t hear anything that really made sense to me.
Yes, for the first time, two finalists in each of those categories won other prizes: in the Men’s category, Simon Brette’s Chronomètre Artisans took the Horological Revelation prize and the Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 3SPC took the Chronometry prize, but that still left four other finalists.
In the Mechanical Exception category, the Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Ultra-Complication Universelle RD#4 took the Aiguille d’Or, and the Hautlence Sphere Series 1 took the Innovation prize, again leaving four other finalists in the category.
While it’s never happened in the history of the GPHG that two finalists have been dropped from contention in their nominated category due to being awarded other prizes – let alone happening twice in one year – every year there are multiple categories that lose a finalist because they win another prize.
And when that happens the second watch (it is assumed) moves up to take the top slot.
I say it’s ‘assumed’ that a finalist dropped from its nominated category would have won if not promoted to another prize, because it’s possible that they would not have won.
I certainly think that Simon Brette Chronomètre Artisans deserved to win Best Men’s Watch, but it’s possible that even if it was not quite good enough to win Best Men’s Watch, it could still easily be good enough to take the Horological Revelation prize (for young brands).
Same for Ferdinand Berthoud, in an imaginary world, it might have been second in the Men’s Watch category, but still far and away the best Chronometry watch.
But no matter, in the past, when a finalist moves out of its nominated category to take another prize, the next in line moves up the ladder. This year may have been unusual in losing two finalists in two categories, but if in losing one finalist the second in line moves up, why wouldn’t losing two finalists lead to third place moving up?
Fortunately, at Dubai Watch Week I was able to ask GPHG Director Carine Maillard ‘What happened?’ and she explained that in both the Men’s and Mechanical Exception categories, the first and second place finalists that took other prizes were so far ahead of third places in the jury’s voting that the committee decided that the third-placed finalists did not deserve to win.
I then proudly told her that I had the solution: surely if a watch was so good that it would in both its nominated category and a special award, it plainly (to my mind anyway) deserved to win two awards rather than miss out on winning its nominated category.
I had fully expected Maillard to explain to me just why that wasn’t possible or why it was impractical. And in my dreams I imagined her saying, what a fantastic idea Ian we will consider that. But to my surprise she simply announced, yes, that’s what we will do next year.
So in future GPHGs we can expect to see quite a few of the best watches winning two prizes instead of just one. I wonder if we might even see a watch winning three prizes (or even more)? For example, a finalist could theoretically win the Men’s Watch category, the Chronometry prize, and the Aiguille d’Or. You read that hear first!
For more information, please visit www.gphg.org/horlogerie/en
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