H Moser Streamliner Flyback Chronograph Automatic, winner of the Chronograph Watch Prize.
H Moser Streamliner Flyback Chronograph Automatic, winner of the Chronograph Watch Prize.
Image: Supplied

Seen as the “watchmaking Oscars”, the annual Fondation du Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) awards celebrate innovation at both the premium end of the market as well as from brands offering more accessible value propositions for new collectors. Our measurement of time this year may have been warped by the numerous challenges of the pandemic, but here are the winning timepieces from some of our favourite brands that bring some joy, while being acknowledged by the GPHG for keeping time so extremely well. 

1. Iconic Watch Prize

This award is for a watch from an emblematic collection that has a lasting influence on watchmaking history and the watch market for more than 20 years. Launched in 1998, Bulgari re-invented the idea of a luxury object and sport watch with its Bulgari Aluminium Chronograph by incorporating unconventional materials such as aluminium and rubber. The new Chronograph, with its 40mm aluminium and titanium case, and black rubber bezel, is water resistant to 100m. Featuring a self-winding mechanical movement, these pieces retail for about R70,000.

Bulgari Aluminium Chronograph.
Bulgari Aluminium Chronograph.
Image: Supplied

Bulgari Boutique, Sandton 011-883-1325.

2. Calendar and Astronomy Watch Prize

The Vacheron Constantin Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin Skeleton in 18k 5N pink gold is a bold and ambitious time machine. It is a grand accomplishment to create a high complication such as a perpetual calendar, but even more remarkable to create a machine this complex and, at a mere 4.05mm thick, one that will make sense of the calendar until March 1 2100. Inside its 41.5mm by 8.1mm thick case is the self-winding Caliber 1120 QPSQ/1, which has been skeletonised through a technique of finely openworking the mechanical movement by hollowing out its components without compromising their integrity. 

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin Skeleton.
Vacheron Constantin Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin Skeleton.
Image: Supplied

For more information, visit vacheron-constantin.com or locally through RLG Africa 011-317-2600

3. Chronograph Watch Prize

When the minimalist, sporty Streamliner Flyback Chronograph Automatic, with its integrate bracelet, launched early this year, I wrote that with this collection H Moser had thrown down the gauntlet, setting the bar high for the new decade. The jury clearly concurs. This curvaceous, stainless steel timepiece marks a new era for H Moser with an entirely new, unique product line featuring a new case design and a new movement — their first automatic chronograph. The Streamliner is also the first integrated automatic chronograph with a central display to offer a flyback function.

H Moser Streamliner Flyback Chronograph Automatic.
H Moser Streamliner Flyback Chronograph Automatic.
Image: Supplied

Visit h-moser.com or Boutique Haute Horlogerie 011-325-4119.

4. Diver’s Watch Prize

Facing some stiff competition, the big, bold Breitling Superocean Automatic 48 Boutique Edition is diver of the year. This oversized 48mm DLC-coated titanium piece is specially designed to meet the needs of more professional divers with water resistance to 300m, a special lock securing the black ceramic bezel, and a special titanium and soft-iron inner case offering protection against the effects of magnetic fields.

Its green dial with matching green rubber strap is also bang on trend. The bi-directional rotating bezel can be safely secured with a lock on the left side of the case. Featuring the Breitling 17 self-winding mechanical movement, this Supeocean retails for about R82,000.

Breitling Superocean Automatic 48 Boutique Edition.
Breitling Superocean Automatic 48 Boutique Edition.
Image: Supplied

Visit breitling.com or call 011-883-2286.

5. Petite Aiguille Prize

This is awarded to a watch with a retail price between R60,000 and R150,000, and includes smartwatches. The Breitling Superocean Heritage ’57 Limited Edition II is the blue dial and bezel update to the “Rainbow Edition” first launched via webcast in April during the global lockdown. Its rainbow-inspired design elements were immediately seen as symbols of hope and optimism so Breitling decided to launch this second edition with a portion of the sale proceeds going to charities supporting front-line healthcare workers.

The Superocean Heritage ’57 Capsule Collection is a contemporary interpretation of the original Superocean from 1957, retaining key elements, such as the oversized concave bezel and oversized indices, of the original. Available in a variety of materials, including stainless steel and 18k red gold, the 42mm case features a bi-directional rotating bezel with black ceramic bezel ring and a black dial. The collection features the COSC-certified, in-house Breitling Caliber 10 and are all water-resistant to 100m. They are priced from about R65,000.

Breitling Superocean Heritage ’57 Limited Edition II.
Breitling Superocean Heritage ’57 Limited Edition II.
Image: Supplied

Visit breitling.com or call 011-883-2286.

6. Challenge Watch Prize

This is awarded to the best watch retailing for under R60000, and despite some stiff competition, the Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight “Navy Blue” is the winner. An instant hit when first introduced in 2018, the 39mm Black Bay Fifty-Eight is inspired by one of Tudor’s first diver’s watches from the 1950s. Ticking softly inside is the COSC-certified Tudor manufacture calibre MT5402 automatic movement — unique to the Fifty-Eight — which offers a 70-hour power reserve. For quality, practicality, comfort, style and value for money, the Fifty-Eight “Navy Blue” definitely has a special place on our top five list.

The Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight “Navy Blue” on steel bracelet, R56,750; on leather strap, R51,850; and with the Jacquard fabric strap with buckle, R51,850.

Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight “Navy Blue”.
Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight “Navy Blue”.
Image: Supplied

For more information visit tudorwatch.com, Rolex Watch Co SA 011-784-9230 or visit Tanur Collection.

7. Audacity Prize

As the name suggests, this prize is awarded to the best overall watch that features a non-conformist, offbeat approach to watchmaking. The collaborative H Moser & Cie Endeavour Cylindrical Tourbillon H Moser X MB&F adopts features from manufacturer MB&F, known for its futuristic, unconventional timekeeping machines, such as the concept of 3D movements. In this piece, a one-minute flying tourbillon rises above the main dial through a ventricular opening appearing at 12 o’clock. Another MB&F reference is the tilted sapphire hour and minute subdial.

H Moser & Cie Endeavour Cylindrical Tourbillon H Moser X MB&F.
H Moser & Cie Endeavour Cylindrical Tourbillon H Moser X MB&F.
Image: Supplied

Visit h-moser.com or Boutique Haute Horlogerie 011-325-4119.

8. The Innovation Prize

Awarded to the best watch out of all categories that offers an innovative vision of time measurement.

According to Michel Parmigiani, “The calendar is an eminently fascinating watchmaking complication, as it really is the mirror of civilisations.” Time has different meanings to different cultures around the world yet we are all slaves to a calendar introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582. While keeping us all on time, we are clearly not all in sync. The 44.6mm platinum Parmigiani Fleurier Hijri Perpetual Calendar wristwatch is based on technology the manufacturer developed for an exclusive table clock in 2011, inspired by the restoration of a pocket watch from 1993 featuring an Arabic calendar.

Parmigiani Fleurier Hijri Perpetual Calendar.
Parmigiani Fleurier Hijri Perpetual Calendar.
Image: Supplied

In the Muslim world, the calendar is based on the cycles of the moon. The Hijri or Islamic lunar calendar consists of 12 months of 29 or 30 days — depending on the moon phase — and is used to pinpoint the days for Islamic holidays. In contrast to the Gregorian or solar calendar, which is used in the West, the months of the lunar calendar change annually by a difference of -10 to -12 days. As a result, each month always falls in a different season and therefore varies from the Gregorian calendar. It also features a moon phase in an aventurine sky and a power reserve of up to 48 hours.

Visit parmigiani.com or Picot & Moss  011-325-4119.

9. Aiguille d’Or Grand Prize

The Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept received the most coveted prize given to the best overall watch across all categories. Breaking rules and records, the Ultimate Concept is produced entirely in house, pushing the boundaries of horological micro-engineering, the master of thin watches created a piece that’s just 2mm thick, making it the world’s thinnest mechanical hand-wound wristwatch.

Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept.
Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept.
Image: Supplied

To achieve this, it features an integrated case and movement design, an integrated winding crown, an ultra-thin crystal (0.2mm) and new construction for the barrel and energy regulation.

POR, visit piaget.com or RLG Africa 011-317-2600

• For other category prize winners, visit gphg.org.

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