Following a Swiss-based traveling roadshow that went from La Chaux de Fonds to Zurich and then Bern, the 84 watches up for the Grand Prix de Horlogerie d’ Geneva awards will be on exhibit in Geneva starting October 30 and through November 15 at the Musee d’Art et d’ Histoire. The prize ceremony for the GPHG will take place at the Theater de Leman on November 12. Earlier this year, I wrote how this year’s GPHG seems a little surreal. I haven’t changed my mind. But then, everything this year seems surreal.
As A GPHG Academy Member
Somehow, without being able to have a global in-person judging situation, or even an in-person event (except for the Swiss who can attend and social distance), it just leaves me feeling a little flat. That’s not unlike anything else this year, though.
As a member of the judging Academy, I have followed the processes to the letter, voting in some brands for consideration, casting a ballot for the finals and now, voting for my favorite of six watches in each of the winning categories. I hope some of my picks make it through – but we won’t know until the virtual event on the night of the 12th. By that time, I hope we here in America have officially learned who our President will be for the next four years .
I won’t sugar-coat it, I will be sad not to attend GPHG this year. I have attended for three years in a row and was looking forward this year to possibly being one of the final judges. Those roles have naturally been assigned to predominantly Swiss residents given the COVID-19 situation. Sadly, there are not more women on the final judging panel, but there is more cross-industry representation, which is nice.
Getting More Brands To Participate in GPHG is Challenging
Anyone who knows me, knows I am incredibly honest. If you don’t want to hear the answer, don’t ask the question. Over the years I have been asked what I think of GPHG. While it is considered by many to be the industry Academy Awards, I always find it a bit lopsided. Many of the top brands don’t participate. Not because they don’t want to pay the entry fees, but because they just don’t want to be in a competition. Sure, some don’t want to pay entry fees, but many just don’t want to lose. Similar to real life, I suppose.
This year, the GPHG organization opted to change the rules, shake things up, get new blood in and hopefully new brands. It organized the Academy system, consisting of several groups of industry personnel that could weigh in on different levels. From CEOs and brand executives, to journalists and bloggers and even watchmakers and technical pros. The idea was good in theory.
Unfortunately, none of us were able to draw in the brands that don’t want to participate. Plain and simple. So the event continues to be a little lopsided instead of being a true representation of the entire industry. We can’t possibly award brand A for being the best watch of the year in a category if brand A doesn’t participate – even if brand A deserves the win. Still, we have a great line up of 84 potential GPHG winners.
A Matter of Numbers
Additionally, with hundreds of academy members voting, it must be a big fish to reel in. However, like most of these competitions, it is a numbers game and whichever watch ends up with the highest scores wins in that particular category. That’s fair. I just wish there could be more global interaction in the final judging period. But there can’t be because of the pandemic. So, for me, one thing is clear: this is not the year to judge the GPHG Academy system. We all just have to have an open mind and hope the best watches win.
Kudos to all of the 84 finalist watches – getting this far is an honor. I’ll be watching the virtual presentation on November 12 and wish you all well.