Grand Prix with a difference

Shilpa Dhamija | Updated on November 30, 2018

Newcomers: The Challenge watch prize is a new category at GPHG for watches priced below CHF 4000 ( ₹3 lakh approx   -  HOLGER WENS

This year around, the Watch Oscars threw up some surprises by independent watchmakers

Revered as the Oscars of the watch world, the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève or GPHG award ceremony turned out to be a noteworthy event this year, with few foregone conclusions. Nearly 9 out of the 17 prizes were awarded to independent watchmakers or watch brands that are not associated with dominant luxury groups.

Grand winner Priced at about $4,70,000, the astronomical watch ‘Bovet 1822, Récital 22 Grand Récital’ is the third watch in the Récital celestial watch series


Notably, the best watch of the year prize or the Aiguille d’Or “Grand Prix was awarded to an independent watchmaker ‘Bovet’ for its watch Récital 22 Grand Récital.

Aiguille d’Or Grand Prix

There are few watch brands that specialise in making watches on an astronomical theme by using mechanical engines, instead of softwares. Priced at about $4,70,000, the astronomical watch Bovet 1822, Récital 22 Grand Récital is the third watch in the Récital celestial watch series by Bovet and the winner of Aiguille d’Or Grand Prix at GPHG. The solar system in the Bovet watch is represented in a Tellurium-Orrery structure that comprises the sun, moon and earth. A tellurion is a clock of French or Swiss origin, that depicts days and nights, with a representation of the Earth on an axis. An orrery is a mechanical model of the solar system. The sun is placed on top of the flying tourbillon positioned at 6 o’clock in the watch. The striking hemispherical earth is placed at 12 o’clock. The earth can be seen rotating on its own axis and showing the hours on a natural 24-hour cycle. A three dimensional moon orbits the earth according to the exact length of its synodic period, i.e. 29.53 days. The moon-phase calculating mechanism used in the watch is of such high precision that it is likely to show a discrepancy of just one day every 122 years!

Accomplishing this horological perfection demanded several hours of fine work. The surface of the earth was engraved and hand painted with miniatures of maps, oceans, mountains, deserts, and forests. Exceptionally, the artisan also painted clouds and air currents on the planet’s surface. Separated from the earth’s crust by the thick layers of lacquer, the clouds appear to be floating in mid-air to add a more realistic aura to earth’s representation.

Innovation prize

Krayon impressed the GHPG jury for its ability to calculate sunrise and sunset anywhere on earth with its mechanical calculator, the Everywhere Horizon watch.

All that glitters: The Everywhere Horizon in all its glory comes with 70 baguette diamonds weighing 3.5 carats


This masterpiece uses four parameters that influence sunrise and sunset calculations; the date, month, UTC timezone & latitude, longitude, which geographically define a point on earth. All of these statistics are displayed on the watch. To calculate the sunrise or sunset time, the user will have to navigate and input the associated numbers by using crown and pushers. Date, latitude, longitude, UTC can be selected using the pusher on the left side of the case and then set from the crown.

A blue arrow on the outer edge of the dial indicates the 24 hour scale. A large central hand directs to the minutes. A hand on the left side of the dial shows latitude. A subsidiary dial in the upper part of the main dial displays longitude between +180° and -180°, shown by the longest of the two hands. The shorter hand indicates the UTC time zone. A subdial in the lower portion of the dial presents date and month. Built for a connoisseur, a customised Krayon Everywhere watch starts at an astronomical $6,00,000. The Everywhere Horizon in all its glory comes with 70 baguette diamonds weighing 3.5 carats and a higher price tag.

Best men’s watch

Akrivia arrived as an independent watch brand in 2012. One of its founders Rexhep Rexhepi started watchmaking at the ripe age of 14 and nearly 10 years later launched his own watch brand that has bagged the best men’s watch prize at GPHG 2018 for his creation Chronomètre Contemporain.

On point: Rexhep was inspired by the classic 1940s officers’ watch to create Chronomètre Contemporain   -  MARC GYSIN


A watch with basic functions such as hours, minutes and seconds made in common colours black-and-white, received the winning votes for its simplicity. The movement that runs the watch features a stop-seconds and zero-reset mechanism to allow for precise time setting. Ticking on an in-house calibre or engine, the Chronomètre Contemporain is certified by the Besançon Chronometer Observatory for showing perfect precision time. Rexhep was inspired by the classic 1940s officers’ watch to build Chronomètre Contemporain. The dial very clearly shows basic watch functions with Art Deco inspired asymmetrical gold or blue lines for lucidity. Case and lugs of Chronomètre Contemporain are designed to be worn on both large or small wrists.

Mechanical exception watch

Greubel Forsey is an independent brand that over the years has won many awards for its complex watchmaking. At GPHG 2018, Greubel Forsey’s Grande Sonnerie won the best mechanical exception watch prize. It took the makers nearly 11 years of research to produce a mechanical watch that with its several functions, also chimes at the strike of a set time. It comes with a minute repeater function that allows the wearer to set the ‘chiming’, on demand, to the nearest minute.

In tune: The Grande Sonnerie strikes the hours and quarters in passing


The Grande Sonnerie strikes the hours and quarters in passing, while the Petite Sonnerie sounds only the full hours in passing. Like most musical instruments with strings, the watch too houses the acoustic resonance cage inside the case band, to provide the loudest possible volume. The Greubel Forsey Grande Sonnerie can be fetched at nearly $1.2 million on pre-order. It houses hours, minutes, small second on a sector, power reserve on a sector, striking power reserve on a sector, Grande Sonnerie, Petite Sonnerie, Minute repeater on demand via a crown-mounted pusher and Tourbillon 24 Secondes functions. All of these, housed in a 43.5 mm dial!

Challenge watch prize

The Challenge watch prize is a new category at GPHG for watches priced below CHF 4000 ( ₹3 lakh approx.). Even smartwatches can compete in this category. Independent watch brand Nomos Glashütte won this prize for its watch ‘Tangente neomatik 41 Update’. Priced at CHF 3520 the self-winding or automatic watch has been a bestseller by the brand. Nomos Glashütte offers functions of hours, minutes, seconds, date, special escapemen, bidirectional quick-set date, at a very low price.

Shilpa Dhamija is the editor of

Published on November 29, 2018

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