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Finalists for the ‘Oscars of Watchmaking’ Announced

Here's the scoop on who is competing at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève.

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Collection Photography by Joshua Scott/Styling by Charles W. Bumgardner

Since 2001, the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) has been recognizing the top watchmakers for their extraordinary creations across categories each year.  And the nominees for the Oscars of watchmaking have just been announced for 2018. In 12 genres ranging from men’s and women’s to sports watches to watches of mechanical exception, 72 timepieces have made the cut to be in the running for the big awards on November 9.

Bulgari swept up the most nominations for a total of five in various categories including jewelry, men’s complication, ladies’, ladies’ complication, and mechanical exception. Anyone that still associates Bulgari predominately with jewelry better take note—their 2018 timepieces were the talk of the watchmaking industry. Its Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic  and Diva Finissima Minute Repeater, both of which were nominated for a GPHG award, were among Robb Report’s votes for the top watches of the year in the annual Best of the Best issue. Van Cleef & Arpels Lady Arpels Planétarium and Chanel’s Boy.Friend Calibre 3, also included in Rob Report’s Best of the Best Issue were also up for GPHG awards.

Van Cleef & Arpels Lady Arpels Planétarium

Van Cleef & Arpels Lady Arpels Planétarium  Photography by Joshua Scott/Styling by Charles W. Bumgardner

With 72 timepieces up for 12 awards, many of the big-name brands were represented with the annual exception of Rolex, Omega, and Patek Philippe (which actively chose not to participate in the awards). But the independent watchmakers were raking in recognition this year as many of the mainstream brands opted for more simple, retro, and sporty timepieces to keep up with current market trends. Up for nominations in the men’s category were a slew of independent timepieces including Akrivia’s Chronomètre Contemporain, De Bethune’s DB28 Steel Wheels, H. Moser & Cie’s Endeavour Flying Hours, MB&F’s Legacy Machine Split Escapement, and Voutilainen’s 217QRS. The only old-school watchmaker included in the category was Vacheron Constantin with the Triple Calendrier 1942.

Competing in the men’s high-complication category, aside from Bulgari’s Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic, the other nominees included Girard-Perregaux’s architectural New Tourbillon with Three Bridges Skeleton, H. Moser & Cie’s reinterpretation of the moonphase in the Perpetual Moon Concept Vantablack, Vacheron Constantin’s ultra-thin 8.1 mm Overseas perpetual Calendar, and Laurent Ferrier’s Galet Annnual Calendar School Piece based on the watchmaker’s first-ever watch creation in watchmaking school. A surprise nominee in this category was the Everywhere Horizon timepiece from Krayon, an independent watchmaker whose unusual complication calculating the sunrise and sunset everywhere in the world through a mechanical movement, caught GPHG’s attention.

Laurent Ferrier Galet Annual Calendar watch

Laurent Ferrier Galet Annual Calendar  Photo: Courtesy Laurent Ferrier/Pierre Vogel

The newest category in the GPHG is the “Challenge” for watches under 4,000 CHF (or $4,106 at current exchange) and is inclusive to smart watches (although unsurprisingly none of the latter were nominated).

The awards will be decided in early November by a 31-member jury of watch experts with the awards ceremony taking place November 9th. Here is the full list of nominees.

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