The Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG), the Oscars of the watchmaking trade, returned in fine form yesterday with a grand ceremony in Geneva, Switzerland. It happens to also be the 20th anniversary of the GPHG, lending a bit more of a sense of pomp to the proceedings, with the audience back after a pandemic-restricted 2020 session. For 2021, the big news is Bvlgari’s “Aiguille d’Or” Grand Prix win for the Octo Finissimo, a watch that has already received more than its share of plaudits.
Bvlgari is of course a mainstay at the GPHG, and we can easily see how the Octo Finissimo swayed the 30-member jury headed by author and watch historian Nick Foulkes. Believe it or not, this is the first time Bvlgari has taken home the big prize; The “Aiguille d’Or” Grand Prix is the GPHG’s version of the Best Picture award at the Oscars.
Other notable wins in 2021, alongside Bvlgari are for its great rival Piaget (locking up both the Ladies’ Watch Prize and the Mechanical Exception Watch Prize) and Van Cleef & Arpels (Ladies’ Complication Watch Prize, which it has won four times) as brands with both watchmaking and jewellery credentials made a splash. A major surprise was Louis Vuitton’s win for the Diver’s Watch Prize with the Tambour Street Diver Skyline Blue.
Well, the surprise factor was probably limited to observers given that Seiko Watch Corporation boss Akio Naito was ready with a video message when Grand Seiko won the Men’s Watch Prize with the SLGH005 Hi-Beat 36000 80 Hours Caliber 9SA5 (SLGH005 for short). This was only the second Grand Seiko win at the GPHG. At this point, it is important to remember that plenty of brands do not participate, or opt out of, the GPHG. The most significant of these are Patek Philippe, Rolex and of course the entire Swatch Group. We will have more to say on some of the winning watches, online and in print, but for now we leave you with the full list of winners.
2021 Prize List
“Aiguille d’Or” Grand Prix: Bulgari, Octo Finissimo
Ladies’ Watch Prize: Piaget, Limelight Gala Precious Rainbow
Ladies’ Complication Watch Prize: Van Cleef & Arpels, Lady Féerie Watch
Men’s Watch Prize: Grand Seiko, Hi-Beat 36000 80 Hours Caliber 9SA5
Men’s Complication Watch Prize: MB&F, LMX Titanium
Iconic Watch Prize: Audemars Piguet, Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin
Tourbillon Watch Prize: De Bethune, DB Kind of Two Tourbillon
Calendar and Astronomy Watch Prize: Christiaan Van Der Klaauw, CVDK Planetarium Eise Eisinga
Mechanical Exception Watch Prize: Piaget, Altiplano Ultimate Automatic
Chronograph Watch Prize: Zenith, Chronomaster Sport
Diver’s Watch Prize: Louis Vuitton, Tambour Street Diver Skyline Blue
Jewellery Watch Prize: Chopard, Flower PowerArtistic Crafts Watch Prize: MB&F, LM SE Eddy Jaquet ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’
“Petite Aiguille” Prize: Tudor, Black Bay Ceramic
Challenge Watch Prize: CIGA Design, Blue Planet
Innovation Prize: Bernhard Lederer, Central Impulse Chronometer
Audacity Prize: Louis Vuitton, Tambour Carpe Diem
Horological Revelation Prize: Furlan Marri, MR. Grey Ref. 1041-A
Special Jury Prize: Dubai Watch Week