In 1993, the Musée International d’Horlogerie in La Chaux-de-Fonds (MIH) created the Gaïa Award to honor the memory of one of the earliest partrons of the museum, Maurice Ditisheim. In sharp contrast to the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, which can be seen more as the Academy Awards or Oscars, the Gaïa has often been called the Nobel Prize of the watch industry. Anita Porchet is not the only deserving laureate this year. Giulio Papi and Jonathan Betts have also been honored.
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. The six pre-selected finalists in the Ladies category are: Delaneau’s Rondo 42 Peony, the in-house Ulysse Nardin Jade, Hublot’s Big Bang Broderie, the Piaget Limelight Gala, the all-new Audemars Piguet Millenary, and the wonderfully crafted and priced Hermès Arceau Petite Lune with diamonds.
The Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) has just published the list of 2015’s pre-selected watches in the run-up to the big red carpet event in Geneva on October 29. The pre-selected watches will go on a world tour that includes stops in Hong Kong, Seoul, Dubai, Geneva, and London in October and November. But enough preamble, let’s have a look at the watches that are now in serious contention to take home big prizes this year.
At a preview before a Christie’s watch auction in Geneva, I found myself particularly attracted to this impeccable Louis Audemars pocket watch. It features a minute repeater, perpetual calendar, chronograph, and moon phase function, and is from circa 1880. It is 135 years old and doesn’t show a single wrinkle!
Sometimes persistence pays off. After a few well-placed questions, the shopkeeper brought out a relatively innocent looking skeletonized pocket watch. With a wry smile, he suggested that the buyer take a look at the tiny lug, leaving my friend flabbergasted. “G.N. Papi No.1” is a clear reference to Giulio Papi. The legendary watch industry figure who leads Audemars Piguet Renaud & Papi and now my friend has stumbled across what could be his very first timepiece from 1984.
For Quill & Pad’s themed “Ladies’ Week” in my role as resident collector, my thoughts turned immediately to that other collector in my life: my charming wife. MrsG is perhaps most enthusiastic about her collection of Southwestern Native American arts and jewelry, but let’s get started with a look at her interesting watches, which include excellent examples from Jaeger-LeCoultre, Blancpain, Alain Silberstein, Audemars Piguet, and more.
When Audemars Piguet celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of the Royal Oak in 2002, it did so by presenting its first concept watch, which was one of the first “superwatches” of the modern era. For a traditional brand like Audemars Piguet to come out with a wild watch like this was far more than just novel. It was downright audacious!
I have been involved in the watch world for 26 years; my first visit to Baselworld was in 1991. The massive fair halls have undergone two major reconstructive changes during this long period, in addition to several smaller updates. The last major reconstruction was finished in 2013. In no way, though, was I prepared for how the complex looks and feels when Art Basel is on compared to how I know it during the hustle and bustle of Baselworld.
“It’s a tent,” Audemars Piguet CEO François-Henry Bennahmias jokingly explained during Art Basel at the opening of Robin Meier’s installation “Synchronicity,” pointing to the large, soft structure barely discernible behind him in the dark room. It did indeed look like a tent. A tent encompassing the most unusual type of art installation I had ever seen. Welcome to the world of synchronous firefly flashes and grasshopper chirps in the name of art.
“Whether collecting art or watches, when I fall in love with something, then I need to understand, I need to research deeply,” Mo Coppeletta explains. “You may have taste, but if that isn’t backed up with knowledge then it is superficial.” Coppoletta was wearing an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Skeleton. “It’s my summer watch,” he commented. What else does he own and how did he get into collecting watches?