On the eve of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) 2015, Luxury Society sits down with the heads of the event and the jury to identify the emerging trends, challenges, and competitors in the category.
The Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, created in 2001 by the The Foundation of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, is an annual event which aims to promote promoting Swiss watchmaking and its values around the world.
In addition, each event is intended to salute the excellence of worldwide horological production and annually rewards the finest creations and the most important operators in the watchmaking sector.
Against this backdrop, here, Luxury Society asks GPHG Director Carine Maillard, and GPHG 2015 President of the Jury, to impart their wisdom on what lies ahead for the future of haute hororlogerie.
“ There is a need to come back to the watchmaking values and traditional know-hows and skills ”
What does the selection of GPHG finalists this year reveal about emerging trends in the category?
Carine Maillard: There is a trend appearing since few years with the ladies watches as women are not only interested in the design and the jewellery side but also in the mechanical aspects of the watches. This is the reason why the GPHG has created new successful categories such as Ladies High-Mech. The same for the artistic crafts, which are more and more present.
There is another current confirming: the need to come back to the watchmaking values and traditional know-hows and skills, and its transmission to the young generations.
Aurel Bacs: My view is that not only is the level of quality of the entries increasing year after year but, thanks to an ever growing Jury (in size and knowledge!), the quality of the winning watches is better year after year. Quality in fine watchmaking can be defined by a numerous parameters, notably craftsmanship, innovation, design and ingenious engineering.
Carine Maillard, Director, GPHG
Some luxury houses, such as Hermes, which have traditionally built their business on fashion are now increasingly making in-roads in the high-end watches sector and have become serious contenders for these awards, alongside some of the most iconic timepiece makers in history. Does this signal a shift and how will it impact the industry going forward?
Carine Maillard: We, as Fondation du Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, have noticed this trend since several years now. Looking back in the past, some of these brands have already explored the field of high watchmaking, maybe with the occasion of a collaboration. Nowadays, it is a very valuable approach for big “Maisons” initially known as jewellers, gem setters or leather goods manufacturers to innovate and integrate a traditional experience of excellence into the field of watchmaking. These initiatives contribute to promote high watchmaking awareness and respectability on an international level.
Aurel Bacs: Certainly, horological credibility cannot be acquired overnight. However, if a credible house chooses to enter the market of Haute Horlogerie and has the means, stamina and willingness to acquire the required talent then they can certainly become very serious contenders in this field. Such a new entrant can come from Haute Couture or any other similar market sharing the values with the market for fine watchmaking. I think this is a development that will continue in the years to come.
Aurel Bacs, President of the Jury, GPHG 2015
What are the biggest challenges in maintaining the standards of luxury for the watch sector?
Carine Maillard: I would preferably speak of maintaining watchmaking excellence and high quality finishes. Actually the main problem is about finding the right people, preserving and transmitting knowledge. Our role as foundation du Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève is to help and encourage promoting watchmaking and federating the right key-players with the aim of preserving this beautiful heritage in the watchmaking Art.
Aurel Bacs: In my personal opinion we shan’t sacrifice the values of the company and quality of the products for the sake of growth. Secondly, not to take its position for granted but instead continuously evolve and improve and consequently deliver more to the customer.
“ My definition of luxury is: The freedom to choose ”
What makes one luxury timepiece stand out from the rest?
Carine Maillard: The ability to maintain traditional standards of excellence while proposing innovative approach and creative concepts to create real pieces of art.
Aurel Bacs: Craftsmanship, exclusivity, authenticity and ability to transmit emotion.
What is your definition of luxury?
Carine Maillard: Having the time to cultivate your passion in life.
Aurel Bacs: The freedom to choose.
GPHG 2015 EVENT OVERVIEW:
Celebrating its 15th edition this month, the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève will see a few winners chosen from 72 competing watches, by 24 members of the jury of international experts.
The competing selection will be displayed at the Cité du Temps in Geneva during the second half of October, up until the ceremony to be held at the Grand Théâtre de Genève on October 29th 2015.
Below is an overview of the watches pre-selected for the GPHG from each category, which set the bar for excellence and – in addition to the winning watches – will take part in a travelling exhibition, showcasing the finest timepieces of the year for international audiences.
In addition to the traditional categories of: Ladies, Men’s, Chronograph, Tourbillon, Calendar, Striking, Mechanical Exception, “Petite Aiguille”, Sports, Jewellery, and Artistic Crafts, GPHG 2015 also marks the entry of a new classification: Ladies’ High-Mech.