GPHG's maiden foray to India was an opportunity for Indians to appreciate the year's best watches
By: Suman Tarafdar
Posted on: November 9, 2014
Familiar with names such as Longio, Asmara-King Of Forest, Seahorse, Golden Bridge Dragon, Sirius Artist, or Coromandel Twin Volute Enchantée? What unites broken glass, pop art, pear diamonds, complex minute watch hands, and even an ode to the sun god? One look at the list of winners and short listed watches for Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) would make it clear that this was a show as much for watch lovers as for lovers of art.
The coveted GPHG, amongst the most prestigious awards in horology, made its first ever stop in India. It was a historic opportunity for Indians to catch up with arguably the most elite shortlist in global horology.
The Grand Prix, which makes a tour of about three cities annually with the shortlisted watches for the year, is seen in global luxury capitals before the award ceremony in Geneva in November. On hand to explain the stopover in Delhi recently were Carlo Lamprecht, President, GPHG foundation, and Aurel Bacs, President of the Jury – GPHG and former director of watch auction division at Christie’s and Sotheby’s.
“We need to be coherent with our main objectives, while at the same time focus on markets that are key for the brands we represent,” says Mr Lamprecht, explaining the choice of India as a venue for displaying the shortlisted watches. “Indian consumers have developed an extraordinary ability to appreciate fine watchmaking, and have thus become more critical with regards to creativity, innovation and craftsmanship,” he adds.
As horology moves to being a fine art rather than a functional service, global watchmakers - both mega brands as well independent fine watch ateliers - are increasingly focusing in bringing out the best in their craft. “Horology is art in miniature,” points out Mr Yashovardhan Saboo, Chairman – Ethos, a leading watch studio in India with 45 outlets, and believes India will reach its tipping point in watch sales soon. India is currently the 24th largest watch market globally by export volume. The high end watch market in India is estimated to be about INR 600 crore.
At the exhibition held in the Swiss Embassy in Delhi, watch lovers and collectors admired 72 timepieces from participating luxury brands including Breguet, Blancpain, A. Lange & Söhne, Van Cleef & Arpels, Jaquet Droz, Harry Winston, Omega, Bulgari, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Chopard, Breguet, Mont Blanc, Hublot, Hermes and Tag Heuer. Less familiar to Indians, though internationally acclaimed luxury watch brands such as Urwerk, Frederic Jouvenot, Grönefeld Parallax, Delaneau among others, were a far rarer treat.
GPHG is a public interest organization, established in 2011 by The Republic and Canton of Geneva, The City of Geneva and Geneva Laboratory of Horology and Microengineering (Timelab) among others. It aims to contribute to promoting Swiss watchmaking and its values around the world.
The Foundation annually organises the GPHG, which is intended to salute the excellence of worldwide horological production and reward the finest creations and luminaries of the watchmaking sector. The award ceremony is held at Grand Théâtre de Genève and draws the crème de la crème of the watchmaking profession, who vie with each other for the coveted honours. The winning watches then participate in a travelling exhibition that enables an international audience to admire the finest timepieces of the year.
The awards were announced in Geneva on October 31. The international jury handed out 16 prizes this year. The ‘Aiguille d’Or’ distinction - regarded to be the top prize - was awarded to Breguet for the Classic Chronométrie model. The ceremony was attended by around 1,500 guests including influential figures from the world of watchmaking, finance and politics, who congregated in Geneva for this annual celebration.
Suman Tarafdar is a journalist and writer based in Delhi. He has worked with a number of leading Indian media organisations, and writes on various aspects of luxury, lifestyle and culture. When not writing to earn a living, he likes to travel, read, cook, chat, shop and watch all kinds of soppy stuff on TV. Yes, current politics bothers him