Time for the horology Oscars

Dhiram Shah | Updated on January 09, 2018 Published on November 24, 2017

Chanel Premiere Camélia Skeleton

Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Skeleton

Vacheron Constantin Les-Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication

Chopard LUC Full Strike

The verdict is out at the Grand Prix d’Horologerie 2017

Every November, an event takes place in Geneva that is affectionately known as the watchmaking world’s Academy Awards — the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie (GPHG). Officially established in 2001, it is unanimously recognised as the primary, and by far the most important set of awards in the watch industry. It has most of the bigger brands and smaller makers competing for the prize. A jury of collectors, designers, authors, journalists and well-known horological luminaries, gets to choose the best and brightest from the world of modern watchmaking. For the 2017 edition of the GPHG, 72 notable timepieces from across the world were pre-selected and judged over 12 different categories, and the awards presented on November 8 at the Théâtre du Léman in Geneva. Here are the winners of the 17th Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève in the top five categories.

Ladies Watch: Chanel Premiere Camélia Skeleton

Chanel celebrated the 30th anniversary of its Première watch with The Premiere Camélia Skeleton which houses its second in-house movement. The chronograph won in the ‘Best Ladies Watch’ category. The geometric shape of the timepiece gives it an old world charm. The two-tier construction gives it a commanding presence on the wrist. Measuring 28.5 x 37 mm, it is encased in white gold. The bezel is set with 42 baguette-cut diamonds and 52 brilliant-cut diamonds. The crown is encrusted with 16 baguette-cut diamonds and 11 brilliant-cut diamonds, giving it a sophisticated allure. The entire skeletonised movement takes the shape of a three-dimensional camellia flower. The manually wound movement packs a 48-hour power reserve. The bridges are made of white gold and covered in 246 brilliant-cut diamonds. The watch also carries Chanel’s Lion hallmark, which is used only for the brand’s high-end in-house movements.

Men’s Watch: Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Automatic

For 2016, the award for the ‘Best Men’s Watch’ was snapped up by the very elegant Grönefeld 1941 Remontoire timepiece. The jury this year picked the brilliant Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Automatic for the award, and it hardly came as a surprise. Bvlgari has a proven record when it comes to high-end, ultra-thin watchmaking, and this timepiece is another technical feather in the brand’s cap. They already hold the record for the thinnest tourbillon as well as the thinnest minute repeater. It achieved another feat by creating the thinnest automatic movement for this watch.

The Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Automatic houses the caliber BVL 138, which is the new record holder for the world’s thinnest automatic movement. Despite its ultra-compact size measuring 2.23 mm x 36.6 mm, it offers a power reserve of 60 hours — which is impressive.

Tourbillon and Escapement: Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Skeleton

If the Bulgari Octo Ultra-thin Finissimo Automatic watch won the ‘Best Men’s Watch’ category, the Italian brand’s skeletonised interpretation of the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon, which became the world’s slimmest tourbillon when it was introduced in 2014, has picked up the award in the ‘Tourbillon and Escapement’ category. The skeletonised version gives us a good look at the thinnest tourbillon movement ever made, a mere 1.95 mm in thickness. A true watch connoisseur would be aware that the tourbillon is one of the most delicate and coveted horological complications. Bvlgari has pushed boundaries by offering it in such a compact package.

The Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Skeleton is driven by an open-worked tourbillon that offers a 52-hour power reserve. Bulgari even had to make the alligator strap considerably thinner than the ones that come with the regular Octo case just to match the thinner-than-wafer construction of the watch. The Octo ultra-thin Finissimo Automatic is a true horological masterpiece.

Mechanical Exception: Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600

Vacheron Constantin, the Swiss watchmaker which has been making prestigious timepieces for the last two-and-a-half centuries, followed up the last year’s launch its 57260 pocket watch — the most complicated watch in the world — with the Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication for 2017. It’s the most complicated movement that Vacheron has ever created and takes fine watchmaking to a whole new level. The exceptional and unique timepiece comes with a complete suite of astronomical complications. The 45 mm case in white gold houses the new caliber 3600, which is a remarkable feat of miniaturisation and horological engineering. Twenty-three essentially astronomical complications appear on the front and back dials of the watch, providing a reading of time in three modes — civil, solar and sidereal — each driven by its own gear train.

The slate-grey dial with applied gold hour markers and gold hands displays 15 of the complications tastefully arranged in a cluster. The watch arrives on black hand-stitched alligator leather straps with white gold pin buckle. The grand complication beautifully demonstrates the technical expertise of Vacheron Constantin in the field of astronomical complications.

Aiguille d’Or Grand Prix: Chopard LUC Full Strike

This brings us to the most prestigious award of the ceremony, the prize that rewards the best overall watch among all categories — Aiguille d’Or. The international jury came together to vote the Chopard LUC Full Strike watch as the best for 2017 and presented the Swiss watchmaker with the coveted Aiguille d’Or award at Geneva’s Théâtre du Léman. The brand celebrated two decades since the founding of its high-end LUC manufacture last year with a series of events culminating in the unveiling of the LUC Full Strike — the most technically complex watch Chopard has ever created till date.

The watch is Chopard’s first-ever minute repeater and the watchmaker worked on the piece for more than six years. The watch comes in a 42.5 mm case in 18k rose gold with a partially open-worked dial that exposes much of its inner-workings and chimes the hours, quarters and minutes on a patented transparent sapphire crystal gong. The watch comes with hand-sewn double-sided alligator leather straps and an 18k rose gold pin-buckle. The Chopard LUC Full Strike is a masterpiece. It deservedly won the GPHG Aiguille d’Or at the GPHG 2017, in my opinion, and was a popular draw among the horology experts.

Dhiram Shah is the founder of

Published on November 24, 2017
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