Starting this week and continuing for the next twelve weeks, we will be taking a look at the entrants in each of the twelve categories of this year’s Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix.

After non-Swiss brands such as Ressence (Belgium) and Habring (Austria) scooped prizes at last year’s awards, it is hard to dispute that the sphere of influence of the industry’s biggest awards ceremony now extends far beyond the confines of the city of Geneva.

So broad is the international dimension, in fact, that some major brands from the Swatch Group, the world’s biggest watchmaking group, were becoming increasingly notable by their absence. Some stayed away out of fear of not being preselected. Others baulked at the cost of submitting several timepieces. Yet the reasons for the absence of brands from the Swatch Group were clearly of a different order.

Whatever their motivations, whether personal, political, strategic or commercial, the barriers to the group’s participation in the Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix now seem to have lifted and this year we see at a stroke entries from Blancpain, Breguet, Harry Winston, Jaquet Droz, Omega and Tissot among the 230 watches that have been submitted for consideration across the 12 different categories. All that we can say is that it’s about time!

 

Breguet Classique Chronométrie

Breguet Classique Chronométrie © Breguet

 

The Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix may be attached to the name Geneva and all that the city represents in the history and continuity of fine watchmaking, but it’s worth recalling the first point in the list of its “rules”:

The Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) is open to all watch brands, irrespective of nationality.

It’s a credit to the tireless work of the organisers to constantly improve the format and appeal of the Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix that this year’s entrants once again include names from far beyond Switzerland’s borders. The jury will have no mean task, for example, to evaluate the Single Needle 001 model from Shenzhen-based CIGA Design, with its “asynchronous” movement, alongside more classic offerings from the likes of Speake-Marin and Julien Coudray in the men’s category.

As Luc Perramond, CEO of La Montre Hermès, explained to me last week, however, simply taking part can be just as important as winning.

“We saw in 2011 when we won the award in the men’s watch category for the Temps Suspendu that it has a major impact,” he explained. “This allowed La Montre Hermès to make a huge jump in terms of recognition and credibility.”

“Of course, we know that we cannot win every year, but it is still important for us to take part to show what we can do.”