— The 13th Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève awards ceremony will take place tonight in the Grand Théâtre de Genève. A change for the President of the Foundation, Carlo Lamprecht, and the competition Director, Carine Maillard, to share their vision of this unique event in this duet-style interview.
What can you tell us about the 2013 edition of the Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève?
Carlo Lamprecht : 194 watches were competing in 2013, representing 92 brands! Given the scale of the reactions generated by our travelling exhibition presenting the 70 watches pre-selected by the jury, featuring stopovers in Beijing, Macao, Dubai and Geneva, the 2013 is an excellent vintage. The 12th art is now truly establishing itself and the Grand Prix is considered worldwide as the watch industry “Oscars”.
Which are the latest features we will be seeing?
Carlo Lamprecht: So as to better represent the variety of watch creations and to bring together the most comparable possible models within each category, the number of categories has been raised from seven to ten. We have for example offered this year a category dedicated to Ladies’ Complication watches and another to Artistic Crafts. We have also created two new prizes: the Revival Prize that will salute the best contemporary reinterpretation of an iconic model; and the Horological Revelation Prize that will reward an achievement by a youthful brand. There will thus be 15 prizes on the 2013 award list (compared with 11 in 2012), all intended to honour watchmaking creations and expertise in all their splendid diversity.
Will there be any guests of honour?
Carlo Lamprecht: Given the free-trade agreements recently signed between Switzerland and China, as well as the partnership binding the cities of Geneva and Beijing since last September, we naturally requested China’s presence as guest of honour at our ceremony – and have also decided to invite another country each year. Since the creation of the GPHG Foundation in 2011, a Federal Councillor has taken part in the ceremony each year as a reminder of the Swiss government’s support for the watch industry. This year Mr Ueli Maurer, President of the Swiss Confederation, will be honouring us with his presence.
The Foundation has chosen to broaden the fields of competency represented by its jury in 2013; why so?
Carine Maillard: The jury is a determining factor in the credibility of the Grand Prix. We have broadened it in order to be more representative and to add fields of competency that appeared to us indispensable in appraising the quality of the models on all levels. We have therefore notably welcomed key figures from the worlds of design, architecture and jewellery: designer Philippe Starck, architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte, as well as the famous Indian jeweller, Viren Bhagat. Moreover, the famous American blues singer John Mayer, a keen watch enthusiast and collector, has joined the 2013 jury that also includes around 20 international horology experts: historians, watchmakers, journalists, bloggers and collectors. We are nonetheless aware that whatever the size and quality of the jury’s composition, its decisions will not always be universally popular: one has to accept a certain degree of subjectivity.
TRAVELLING EXHIBITION OF THE 70 PRE-SELECTED WATCHES IN BEIJING. © GPHG
The 2012 brought a breath of fresh air with the presentation by Frédéric Beigbeder. Do you plan to maintain a similar spirit in 2013. With whom?
Carine Maillard : Frédéric Beigbeder will once again be acting as master of ceremonies. We are very glad of that in light of last year’s favourable reactions. Due to the large number of prizes to be distributed, he will guiding procedures single-handedly on stage, with the occasional support of fashion model and TV presenter Solweig Lislow. We are counting on his experience, wit and elegance to impart the right pace and the right touch to this 13th ceremony.
What do you see as the true role of the Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève in 2013?
Carlo Lamprecht: It has remained fundamentally unchanged: the Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève is a celebration of the 12th art, the watchmaking art, by annually saluting the excellence and creativity of the watch industry’s achievements. As in other fields, competition stimulates creativity and innovation. The GPHG also serves as a platform for new brands and youthful talents. The annual travelling exhibition, which presents the 70 pre-selected watches in various capitals around the world, ensures substantial visibility and displays the abundant innovation and creativity of which the watchmaking profession is capable. This success must serve to foster the efforts devoted to passing on this expertise and to ensuring its continuity.
How do you see it evolving ?
Carine Maillard : The GPHG has already evolved considerably since the creation of the foundation in 2011! We organise exhibitions around the world and the ceremony has developed in terms of enhanced quality, while the regulations, the categories and the jury have all been rethought. Nonetheless, the GPHG is above all what the watch industry stakeholders make of it. We therefore hope that brands will grasp the importance of taking part in it and agree to take up the challenge of competing each year, even if they do not win a prize. Created in a competitive and yet unifying spirit, it is a showcase for horological know-how and an instrument for promoting the entire watch industry. By participating in the GPHG, brands take part in extending the influence of an entire profession and a whole country.
What can we wish you for the future of the GPHG?
Carlo Lamprecht: We are striving to promote the watchmaking sector, and through it all of Swiss industry. The exceptional expertise embodied in watchmaking, as well as the values it conveys – excellence, innovation and precision – and which are saluted by the GPHG, have an impact both on national industry as a whole and on Switzerland’s image abroad. At a time when competition is becoming fiercer in all fields, our wish is to be ever more effective in supporting the Made in Switzerland concept and in spreading its values around the world.