High Watchmaking is Not Dead in 2020
Looking at the results of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) 2020 that was announced in mid-November, I heaved a sigh of relief. The winners—all very deserving—allayed my fears that haute horlogerie was non-existent this year.
Just take the Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept, for instance. Winner of the prestigious “Aiguille d’Or”—considered the top prize at GPHG—the watch is one part horological magic and one part engineering marvel. It is the world's thinnest mechanical watch at 2mm as the movement is fused together with the case, resulting in five potential patents. Of course, commercialising and industrialising the manufacturing process of this creation should be the next step but that will take more studies and that's another story for another day.
But it's great to see the Swiss watchmaking industry sticking it in and going on with the kind of creative work that makes it tick—pun intended, truly—despite the global pandemic and the accompanying economic uncertainties.
There are definitely fewer bright sparks this year with many brands opting to go conservative in terms of offerings but there are a few stubborn—thank goodness for them—watchmakers which have persisted in releasing awe-inspiring and jaw-dropping designs that made horophiles sit up and take notice.
Cases in point: the Patek Philippe Ref 6301P Grande Sonnerie and Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Chronograph Skeleton Automatic are stellar examples of brands pushing the limits and causing some excitement in the otherwise quiet watch industry.
And this year's hype is not just about movement creation. There are a few timepieces that showed off the brands' outstanding aesthetic sensibilities and expert gem-setting skills. My favourite has to be the Van Cleef & Arpels Lady Arpels Ballerines Musicales collection, a trio of musical box-inspired watches that also brings in the Maison's love for ballads. When I attended the press conference a couple of weeks ago, my mind was blown by how beautiful the pieces were, how smart the movements were engineered and how brilliant the execution was.
And in a time when collaborations can potentially help brands that share similar philosophies get noticed, here is one from this year that caught my eye: MB&F and H Moser & Cie joined hands to create not one but two top-drawer-quality watches that showcased the best of both brands.
The video below explains it best.
See also: Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept Wins The Best Watch Of 2020 At GPHG