The annual Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève ceremony took place on Thursday night, and it was a night of surprises. This year the jury trumped the fixed categories, and, as always, the overlooked nominations were maddening. Still, the GPHG remains the gold standard for watch awards, driving sales and press like no other.
In an industry as full of folklore and puffery as watchmaking, it is refreshing to uncover first-hand knowledge. As I was researching the history of Zénith, Universal, and the Martel watch factory I stumbled on a real gold mine: A 1991 interview with Charles Vermot, the watchmaker who saved the legendary El Primero watch movement from the scrap heap, and a look at how the watchmaking profession was viewed in 1991, as the industry was just recovering. I enjoyed the video enough to translate it and present it here for my readers.
The 2019 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève features a grail for every price tag, from the affordable Ming 17.06, Tudor Black Bay P01, Seiko Prospex LX and Kudoke 2 to the insane Urwerk AMC with its atomic clock “docking station”. It also heaps praise on the long-running Audemars Piguet Royal Oak line and Chanel’s fantastic J12. Truly something for everyone!
The Royal Oak Chronograph was a latecomer to this celebrated line and has remained remarkably consistent throughout its two-decade life. All share the same movement and a single lineage passes from the original Ref. 25860 to the subtly-redesigned Ref. 26300, the up-sized Ref. 26320, and the new Ref. 26331. It was only this year that a second model, the 38 mm Ref. 26315, was added. Yet on closer examination, a world of differences emerges, from the City of Sails to the Leo Messi, to the new 41 mm dial. Through it all, the Royal Oak Chronograph remains one of the classiest and most comfortable watches available.
Exotic materials are fairly common in modern watches, with most manufacturers augmenting their lineup of stainless steel and gold cases with titanium, platinum, and ceramic today. But what about really-unusual materials like rhodium and even tantalum? Yes! Many manufacturers have used these materials, though they’re certainly not common…
This 2004 Audemars Piguet watch is just waiting to become yours in a very deep, personal way. It is an “equation of time” watch, showing sunrise and sunset for your exact location, as seen in the video below. And it can even be personalized with your initials on the skeletonized rotor. What more could you ask?