This young award is just barely three years old, but indeed it has already managed to reward some of the greatest personalities in the world of watches for their “passion” and “talent” – which are undeniably the most essential ingredients for the finest watchmaking. A jury from the Cultural Council of the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH) honored two exceptional personalities in 2014: Philippe Dufour for his “talent” and Henry-John Belmont for his “passion.”
SalonQP, London’s premier watch exhibition, ran from the 6th through the 8th of November 2014 at the prestigious Saatchi Art Gallery in central London. It was bigger and better than ever in terms of both size and visitor numbers.
Read on for more than just a few reasons (and lots of photos) why SalonQP is my favorite watch exhibition.
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.
There were new models launched in Hong Kong at the second edition of Watches & Wonders from Jaeger-LeCoultre, Richard Mille, Vacheron Constantin, A. Lange & Söhne, Montblanc, Audemars Piguet, IWC, Roger Dubuis, and Panerai.
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?
The Petite Aiguille category is for watches under 8,000 Swiss francs (approx $8,500). The contenders are Bell & Ross BR03-92 Ceramic Black Matte, Chopard Grand Prix de Monaco Historique Chrono, Montblanc Meisterstück Heritage Moonphase, Seiko Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36,000 GMT, TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 1887 Chronographe “Racing,” and the Zenith El Primero Synopsis.
The Sports watch category has always been one of the most hotly contested prizes because these are the watches that many people actually wear. Our pre-selected contenders in the Sports category this year are: the Bell & Ross BR126 Vintage Sport Heritage GMT Flyback, Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Chronographe Flyback, the Aerofusion Chronograph Pelé by Hublot, Tissot’s T-Touch Expert Solar, the Tudor Heritage Ranger, and the El Primero Lightweight by Zenith.
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.
While this category in the 2014 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève is called “Mechanical Exception,” it could well be titled “exceptionally difficult to pick a winner.” And that’s because of the incredible selection of exceptional watches to choose from: Urwerk EMC, Jaquet Droz Bird Repeater, TAG Heuer Monaco V4 Tourbillon, MB&F Legacy Machine No. 2, Hublot, MP-05 LaFerrari, and Andreas Strehler Sauterelle à Lune Perpétuelle.
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?