Thursday evening in Geneva, the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) awards were held in the city’s Grand Théâtre. These are the Oscars of fine watchmaking. The nominees were announced in July, and then we got a shortlist in September, but now the waiting is over. According to a jury of 26 watchmakers, journalists, and industry experts, these are the best watches of 2015.
Aiguille d’Or (Grand Prize): Greubel Forsey’s Tourbillon 24 Secondes Vision
No surprises here. It wasn’t a shoo-in, but there’s no question Greubel Forsey is making some of the best watches on the planet right now. This is probably the most wearable model the company has made to date. It was one of my favorites at SIHH back in January, and I’m still impressed every time I see it. Bravo.
Artistic Crafts: Blancpain’s Villeret Cadran Shakudo
Most of the watches in this category are creations you wouldn’t want to wear on a daily basis but might want to encounter in a gallery. This Villeret Cadran Shakudo is right in line with that aesthetic, and the multicolored, multilayered engraving on the dial is unlike anything else you can find in a wristwatch.
Calendar: Hermès’s Slim d’Hermès QP
This watch wowed journalists and collectors when it was unveiled in March, and I would’ve been shocked had it not taken this category. The combination of a perpetual calendar, a second time zone, a beautiful moon phase, and custom art deco numerals make this a watch you can’t help but want to wear.
Chronograph: Piaget’s Altiplano Chronograph
Ultrathin is what Piaget is all about, and until this year the brand’s slim lineup didn’t include a chronograph. There were more complicated and ornate chronographs in the category, but the judges seem to have gone with something people really want to wear. I totally agree with their choice.
Jewellery: Audemars Piguet’s Diamond Punk
Looking at this, you might not guess it’s from the same company that makes the Royal Oak and Millenary, but there you have it. The stonework is astounding, and even if it’s not your type of watch, you can’t ignore just how skilled the artisans are who make it.
Ladies’: Hublot’s Big Bang Broderie
If the jury steered toward the wearable in other categories, here they went for the most outlandish pick. The dial and band here feature hand embroidery in a pattern that mixes flowers and skulls. Not exactly subtle, but oh so very Hublot.
Ladies’ High-Mechanical: Fabergé’s Lady Compliquée Peacock
Often complications are developed for men’s watches and are then adapted for ladies’ models. This time display, though—using a peacock and rotating disks—was created for this watch, which combines gem settings, mother-of-pearl dial work, and mechanical complexity.
Mechanical Exception: Jaquet Droz’s Charming Bird
The little bird in that bubble flutters its wings and chirps when you push the lone button on the case. It’s uncanny and sounds just like the real thing. The idea is taken from 18th century automata, shrunk down to fit on the wrist.
Men’s: Voutilainen GMR
Kari Voutilainen and his team make very few watches each year; the finishing on each tiny movement component and dial element is top-tier and inspired by traditional pocket watches. The overall look of the watches, though, is thoroughly modern and distinctive.
Petit Aiguille: Habring2’s Felix
In a category focused on relatively lower prices, the judges didn’t compromise on quality. The Felix includes Habring2’s first in-house movement designed and made in Austria, and the clean looks make it something you can wear every day. This is a real watch guy’s watch.
Sports: Tudor’s Pelagos
The Pelagos isn’t new, but Tudor updated it with a bright blue color scheme and also added its in-house movement earlier this year. The new model is equal parts indestructible and innovative. No one can argue with this award.
Striking: Girard-Perregaux’s Minute Repeater Tourbillon With Gold Bridges
The exaggerated gold bridges are a signature of Girard-Perregaux, but the mechanism they’re supporting is totally new. The open dial lets you really admire the complex chiming mechanism that makes this watch special.
Tourbillon: Ulysse Nardin’s Ulysse Anchor Tourbillon
Ulysse Nardin, known more for its ornate and over-the-top watches, this time opts for technical innovation instead of brash aesthetics. The tourbillon also boasts a special escapement that further enhances accuracy and reliability over time. Plus, that enamel dial is super handsome.
Horological Revelation: Laurent Ferrier’s Galet Square
Ferrier is a longtime veteran of Patek Philippe, and with his own brand he’s creating very high-end watches in small numbers. This is his first nonround watch, and it packs all the same technology in the movement as the round models.
Jury Prize: Vacheron Constantin’s Ref. 57260
This is the most complicated watch ever made. Full stop. It wasn’t nominated for anything (it wasn’t even announced until just a few weeks ago), but the jury decided to give it a special nod anyway.
Innovation Prize: Antoine Preziuso’s Tourbillon of Tourbillons
This is the very first watch to combine three tourbillons in a single mechanism, and it was created by a father-son duo. The watch also received the Public Prize, voted for online not by the jury, but by the public. It was the only watch to win two awards.
Revival Watch: Piaget’s Extremely Piaget Double Sided Cuff
If the Altiplano shows off Piaget’s watchmaking chops, this one shows off the brand’s jewelry skills. The cuff has two watches and multiple rings of diamonds, recalling vintage pieces from the company’s archive.