Following on from our preview article we now welcome back our the team to give some views on what actually won on the night.
Aiguille D’Or Grand Prix – Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin
Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak, over the years has become a victim of its own success. Detractors will point to Audemars Piguet’s overreliance on the line consequentially making its design overused. Nevertheless, it is undoubtedly a classically beautiful design. And this watch steps it up big time, with a relatively new movement which makes it the thinnest perpetual calendar, combines titanium and platinum for a more comfortable experience and cleans up the dial with a satin finish as opposed to the usual “Grande Tapisserie” dial pattern. When the watch gives you these many reasons to vote for it, coupled with its history and brand pedigree, it’s the watch you vote for overall. End of story.
Horological Revelation – Ming 17.06 Copper
At the other end of the spectrum from the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin we have the Ming 17.06 Copper that was released just a couple of months ago. This watch as a brand could not be more different from Audemars Piguet. It has no history (its first watch was released in 2017), it doesn’t make its own movements, has no complications and is a fraction of the cost. But in its own way, it is every bit as enjoyable. Where the Royal Oak’s design is familiar, the Ming’s is fresh, with unique lugs, dials and even a distinct 12 numeral. Being Singaporean, I am also secretly proud that this watch is Malaysian (we have our differences but let me have this) and does not feel obliged to market itself as Swiss Made or anything else. In a world obsessed with branding and endless reissues, this watch stands apart on its own two feet and is fully deserving of this category’s title.
Mens Voutilainen 28Ti
It is safe to say Kari had quite a night at the GPHG, and while as we described in our preview, the field in this category was very tightly packed with worthy contenders, he certainly deserves this award. After all he is known for the amazing finish of his movements, chief among which the beautifully sharp inner angles of his beveling. So when he reverses the movement to reveal its glory dial side, that’s a hard one to argue with. In alignment with the Hodinkee folks however, the watch I would have wanted to walk out with remains the Groenefeld (which, despite its undoubtedly stellar movement finish doesn’t have a single sharp inner angle on its bridges… go figure).
Ladies – Chanel Calibre 12.1
I’m secretly thrilled that this was the winner. Frankly, more watch brands need to start releasing simple classy designs for ladies and I say this as one who has been trying to find watches for my female friends who are slowly getting into the hobby. It is extremely hard to find many non-gem studded watches which seems to be reflected in the 6 entries in this category. It is a little ironic that even the competition rules seemed to understand this urge and had to include a size restriction on the gems used.
Mens Complication : Code 11.59 Minute Repeater Supersonnerie
I understand my rationale for the Ulysse Nardin may not have been what a GPHG jury would typically apply in the context of this competition. But handing this category to a CHF 317,000 chiming piece and the basis that there needed to be an 11.59 among the winners for AP to be fully satisfied feels a bit artificial. This is especially true when you consider an arguably more attractive expression of the 11.59 competed in another category, which it actually deserved to win (but didn’t).
While I am the first to admit that – despite its catastrophic launch – the 11.59 has its merits, at this price point, there is really not enough to this particular watch to justify its win. It’s an impressive movement, no discussion. But it’s not new (2016). All AP did, was sticking it into its new case, behind a dial that’s not particularly original.
Of course, the UN I’d have liked to see win this one was a bit of an outlier as well.
But the Overseas Tourbillon that was favored by many would probably have been a more natural fit for the trophy. Its movement may not be from this year either (2018), but the case it was set into and the more realistic sticker it comes with, not to mention that mesmerizing blue dial, made it a much more deserving contender in my eyes.
Ladies Complication – MB&F Legacy Machine Flying T
While not as evident as in the ladies’ category, it is nice to see a watch that is willing to focus on mechanical prowess without feeling the urge to deck out the complications with and dials with gems. In fact, based on the pictures, the only gem in under the crystal is situated at the top of the flying tourbillion which, I presume, makes it functional as well. When you learn of the unconventional design philosophy at MB&F that is discussed in Hodinkee Podcast Episode 26, you understand why there was no need to rely on gems to spice up the complications, though admittedly they are still used heavily on the case. Maximillian Büsser’s intention, as stated in the description on GPHG’s site, “was to take a masculine timepiece, resize it, put a different colour on it and call it a ladies’ watch.” I believe this is the way forward.
Calendar and Astronomy: Hermes Arceau l’Heure De la Lune
We were close here, and we paid due tribute to Hermès’ very cool and original moon phase display in our prediction. I still think this one should have gone to the 11.59. I fully agree with the jury that the line and the bold effort it represents deserved some form of recognition. And in my view, this category presented the proper opportunity to accommodate that. Throughout the watch sphere, the aventurine perpetual is lauded as the commendable exception in an otherwise highly criticized line, and at its price point, it provides much more watch for the money than its chiming sibling.
Nonetheless, congratulations to La Montre Hermès for what is without argument a beautiful expression of creativity.
Iconic – Audemars Piguet Jumbo Extra-Thin
This one speaks for itself. While Audemars Piguet could be rebranded as the Royal Oak without anyone noticing but that shouldn’t detract from its iconic status in my opinion, (sorry Sanford, you can check his Iconic Watch opinion here). I would argue that nothing much has had as much of a “lasting influence” on the world besides the Rolex Submariner. Just this year alone, there have been two “homages”, to the Royal Oak. I would, in fact, go so far to say that the current luxury steel sports craze could be traced loosely to the Royal Oak. The rest never had a chance.
Chronograph: Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic
Bvlgari’s Octo Finissimo line has been on a roll in recent years breaking records left and right particularly for the thinness of their movements and this win is just another notch on its belt. As a person who takes an issue with thick watches, chronographs and me do not usually get along. The Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic adds on a GMT complication and still leaves the vast majority of three-handers in its dust. It is also worth noting that visually, it is the most distinct from the rest of its competitors.
(Editors Note : Go on Bvlgari, just give us some Lume please, ideally Gas Tubes….Perfet (Sic) )
Diver’s: Seiko Prospex LX line divers
It’s difficult to fault the jury for going with the safe choice here. Seiko Prospex LX line Divers. Sure, it may not pack in some of the extra features of unique design cues that the some of the other competitors may have, but given that diving is inherently risky to a certain degree, safe and familiar may not be such a bad thing. That pricing though, I am not a fan of, but that’s for another discussion for another time, another place which you can find here. (http://www.scottishwatches.co.uk/2019/10/11/new-watch-opinion-seiko-lx-line-l-e-divers-go-on-do-a-rolex/)
Jewelry: Bvlgari Serpenti Misteriosi Romani
It is difficult for a guy to comment on at section that by definition I geared towards ladies. But I’ll take a stab at it. The Serpenti Misteriosi Romani takes the category’s theme and ran with it without being as in your face as some of the other pieces. Its not hard to see the Roman inspiration in the gem set “windows” that makes the cuff look like a colosseum. And It has a freaking snake coiled around it. Does it really matter that I have no idea how you tell the time on this piece? I take what I said back, I would love to rock this on my wrist.
Artistic Crafts: Voutilainen Starry Night Vine
This is one of those categories that I believe requires the watches to be seen in person. The Voutilainen Starry Night Vine’s description sounds mouth-watering with its combination of enameling, lacquering and engraving. This was evidently designed to win specifically with winning this category in mind with the techniques employed being the first three techniques mentioned in the rules. But without seeing it in person, I will never be able to understand how this beat out the Jacob & Co’s Astronomia Dragon. I mean it’s a freaking dragon in a watch?!
Petite Aiguille: Kudoke 2
At a time when the industry seems heavily biased towards large brands, and has a growing infatuation with extremely hyped watches, it is comforting to see the relatively little guy win. It is no mean feat especially at this price range (CHF 4,000 – CHF 10,000) which is incredibly saturated. Stefan Kudoke certainly packed this watch with amazing features; a hand-finished movement that is visually distinct from most, an eye-catching day-night display, a uniquely designed dial, and those gorgeous blue hands. A remarkably deserving win.
Challenge: Tudor Black Bay P01
I am completely miffed by this to be honest. I would like to know the rationale behind the jury’s votes. Don’t get me wrong, I am not about to hate on the watch, because it’s a solid watch if you look past its clunky proportions and terrible marketing launch. It is a Black Bay after all. But I am skeptical of how a unique and perhaps ancient bezel-locking mechanism beats out the porcelain dialed chronographs or a watch that features a globe for hands. Of course, none of that was in the criteria for this category which is completely price based but this seems to be a case of playing it safe by going with Tudor?
Mechanical Exception, Innovation and Audacity
Genus GNS 1.2, Urwerk AMC, Vacheron Constantin Twin Beat
The mechanical exception category consists of watches featuring a special mechanism and/or an original or exceptional horological concept. Watches in the final selection for this category tend to be especially impressive. They are thus often very well positioned to win the overarching prizes awarded across the entire field (“Aiguille d’or”, innovation award and audacity award).
This was no different this year, with the AP RD2 (ultrathin perpetual) taking the outright win (“Aiguille d’or”) while the Vacheron and the Urwerk received very well deserved recognitions for their innovation (exploring new development pathways for the art of watchmaking) and audacity (non-conformist, offbeat approach to watchmaking) respectively.
According to the rules, watches awarded the “Aiguille d’or”, innovation and audacity prizes are no longer taken into account in the categories in which they were initially competing.
The field in the mechanical exception category was therefore reduced by half, and went to the very interesting mechanism of the Genus. I’m always torn on watches like these, because on the one hand, albeit typically hardly readable, new and imaginative time-telling concepts are often fun to discover and commendable for their originality. On the other hand though, at over CHF 300,000, there seems to be hardly anything but new and imaginative (and hardly readable) time-telling concepts. This severely restricts the extent to which they can really be called “exceptional”. Anyway, given the limited competition that remained in this category, a solid win nonetheless.