GPHG The Oscars of Watchmaking

The 350-member Academy of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève – the Oscars of watchmaking – announced its winners last week in a ceremony with no audience beyond the nominees. There were 226 entries, narrowed to 84 finalists in 14 categories. The final decision was made by a panel of judges consisting of a dozen members of the Academy who live in Switzerland.

And the slimmest watch goes to?

Piaget won the top prize – the “Aiguille d’Or” Grand Prix – for its Altiplano Ultimate Concept, the world’s thinnest mechanical wristwatch. The GPHG, no matter who is on the judging panel, has always been quick to award record setters – thinnest, fastest or “first-of” in some category of horology – and this is no exception. The 4.30mm-thick Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Automatic is a master work of ultra-thin watchmaking. Reducing components to tiny tolerances can compromise strength and functionality. Piaget solved the problem by building the movement from the top onto the main plate, which also serves as the dial plate. The mainspring barrel was recessed under a flying bridge, and the hour and minute hands were placed slightly below the bridges to prevent them from hitting the crystal in the event of shock. The result is a watch that is needle thin: a mere 0.12 mm of cobalt separates the movement from the wearer’s skin. “There were some challenges in creating the most unimaginable, unthinkable watch ever,” said Piaget CEO Chabi Nouri, in accepting the award. “But our engineers and watchmakers proved that nothing is impossible. This is what happens when crazy ideas become reality.”

Men Watches Awards:

The competitive Men’s watch category was won by celebrated independent watchmaker Kari Voutilainen, whose workshop in Switzerland makes no more than 60 watches per year. His 28SC, a 10-piece limited edition is an example of the craftsmanship involved in creating a Voutilainen piece – designed, built, fabricated, finished and assembled in-house by hand. The exceptional movement has an oversized balance wheel, allowing regulation of the watch to within strict tolerances, along with two escapement wheels that give a direct impulse to the balance from two directions. The result is an extremely efficient movement that requires far less energy and more stability than traditional lever escapements.

The Men’s Complication prize was awarded to Greubel Forsey for the Hand Made 1, a one-of-a-kind piece made by hand according to traditional principles of watchmaking with original manual tools. It took more than 6,000 hours to make and assemble the watch’s 308 components, made to tolerances of between 2 and 4000ths of a millimeter. “The Hand Made 1 is about expertise and craftsmanship and skills, and keeping those skills alive is part of our culture,” said Stephen Forsey. “We wanted to make sure we can transmit and safeguard these skills for future generations.”

Multiple Award Winners:

Bovet 1822 won two awards: the Ladies prize for the Miss Audrey, named after the eldest daughter of company president Pascal Raffy; and the Mechanical Exception award for the Récital 26 Brainstorm Chapter 2, an astronomical watch with a case made of sapphire crystal, including a moon phase, second time zone and a flying tourbillon

The Petite Aiguille, awarded to a watch retailing for under $8,000, was claimed by Breitling for its Superocean Heritage 57 Limited Edition II, some of the proceeds of which were donated to front-line workers in the fight against Covid-19. Breitling also won the Diver’s watch category, for its Superocean Automatic 48 Boutique Edition, with 300-meter water resistance.

H. Moser & Cie was also a dual winner, taking first place in the Chronograph category for the Streamliner Flyback, and the Audacity prize for its Endeavour Cylindrical Tourbillon, a collaboration with MB&F.

Complete list of GPHG winners:

Here are all winners along with links to the other finalists in each category:

“Aiguille d’Or” Grand Prix: Piaget, Altiplano Ultimate Concept


Ladies’ Watch Prize: Bovet 1822, Miss Audrey

Ladies’ Complication Watch Prize: Charles Girardier, Tourbillon Signature Mystérieuse Fleur de Sel

• Men’s Watch Prize: Kari Voutilainen, 28SC

• Men’s Complication Watch Prize: Greubel Forsey, Hand Made 1

• Iconic Watch Prize: Bulgari, Aluminium Chronograph

• Chronometry Watch Prize: Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud, FB 2RE.2

Calendar and Astronomy Watch Prize: Vacheron Constantin, Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin Skeleton

Overseas Skeleton openworked Squelette

• Mechanical Exception Prize: Bovet 1822, Récital 26 Brainstorm Chapter 2

• Chronograph Watch Prize: H. Moser & Cie, Streamliner Flyback Chronograph Automatic

• Diver’s Watch Prize: Breitling, Superocean Automatic 48 Boutique Edition

• Jewellery Watch Prize: Van Cleef & Arpels, Frivole Secrète watch


• Artistic Crafts Watch Prize: Van Cleef & Arpels, Lady Arpels Soleil Féerique

“Petite Aiguille” Prize: Breitling, Superocean Heritage ’57 Limited Edition II

• Challenge Watch Prize: Tudor, Black Bay Fifty-Eight

Four special Jury awards:

• Innovation Prize: Parmigiani Fleurier, Hijri Perpetual Calendar

• Audacity Prize: H. Moser & Cie, Endeavour Cylindrical Tourbillon H. Moser X MB&F

• Horological Revelation Prize: Petermann Bédat, Dead beat second

• Special Jury Prize: Antoine Simonin, watchmaker, teacher, editor and former director of the WOSTEP Foundation

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