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Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève ‘Ganesh’ watch wins top Swiss watchmaking prize

The Japanese Shakudō technique used on the dial has rarely been applied to the world of watchmaking


Swiss watchmaker Blancpain’s CHF150,000 ($151,884) watch featuring the Hindu elephant-headed God Ganesh has won the prestigious Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) in the artistic crafts category.

 Blancpain’s Ganesh watch won the GPHGexternal link Artistic Crafts Watch Prize for its use of the Japanese Shakudō alloy made of gold and copper, which was once used in samurai sword handles. The Shakudō alloy is then given a characteristic black patina by applying a solution called Rokushō.

 Blancpain also won artistic merit for its use of the damascene technique, which involves fashioning troughs upon the watch dial surface, into which fine threads gold are painstakingly hammered and then hand-engraved.

So Who Won at the 2015 Oscars of Watchmaking?

(Bloomberg) -- Thursday evening in Geneva, the Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) awards were held in Geneva's Grand Theater. These are the Oscars of fine watchmaking. The nominees were announced back in July and then we got a shortlist in September, but now the waiting is over. According to a jury of 26 watchmakers, journalists, and industry experts, these are the best watches of 2015.Aiguille d'Or (Grand Prize): Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Vision

No surprises here. It wasn't a shoe-in, but there's no question that Greubel Forsey is making some of the best watches on the planet right now. This is probably the most wearable watch they've made to date. It was one of my favorites at SIHH back in January and I'm still impressed every time I see it. Bravo.Artistic Crafts: Blancpain Villeret Cadran Shakudo

Most of the watches in this category are creations you wouldn't want to wear on a daily basis but might want to encounter in a gallery. This Villeret Cadran Shakudo is right in line with that aesthetic and the multi-colored, multi-layered engraving on the dial is unlike anything else you can find in a wristwatch.Calendar: Hermès Slim d'Hermès QP

This watch wowed journalists and collectors when it was unveiled in March, and I would have been shocked had it not taken this category. The combination of a perpetual calendar, a second timezone, a beautiful moonphase, and custom Art Deco numerals make this a watch you can't help but want to wear.Chronograph: Piaget Altiplano Chronograph

Ultra-thin is what Piaget is all about and until this year there was no chronograph in the brand's slim line-up. There were more complicated and ornate chronographs in the category but the judges seem to have gone with something that people really want to wear. I totally agree with their choice. Jewellery: Audemars Piguet Diamond Punk

Looking at this, you might not guess that it's from the same company that makes the Royal Oak and Millenary, but there you have it. The stonework is astounding and even if it's not your type of watch, you can't ignore just how skilled the artisans are who make it. Ladies': Hublot Big Bang Broderie

If the jury steered toward the wearable in other categories, here they went for the most outlandish pick. The dial and band here feature hand-embroidery in a pattern that mixes flowers and skulls. Not exactly subtle, but oh so very Hublot.Ladies' High-Mechanical: Fabergé Lady Compliquée Peacock

Often complications are developed for men's watches and then are adapted for ladies' models. This time display though, using a peacock and rotating disks, was created for this watch which combines gem setting, mother of pearl dial work, and mechanical complexity. Mechanical Exception: Jaquet Droz The Charming Bird

The little bird in that bubble flutters its wings and chirps when you push the lone button on the case. It's uncanny and sounds just like the real thing. The idea is taken from eighteenth-century automata, shrunk down to fit on the wrist.Men's: Voutilainen GMR

Kari Voutilainen and his team make very few watches each year and the finishing on each tiny movement component and dial element is top-tier and inspired by traditional pocketwatches. The overall look of the watches though is thoroughly modern and distinctive.Petit Aiguille: Habring2 Felix

In a category focused on relatively lower prices, the judges didn't compromise on quality. The Felix houses Habring2's first in-house movement designed and made in Austria and the clean looks make it something you can wear everyday. This is a real watch guy's watch.Sports: Tudor Pelagos

The Pelagos isn't new, but Tudor updated it with a bright blue color scheme and also added its new in-house movement earlier this year. The new Pelagos is equal parts indestructible and innovative. No one can argue with this award.Striking: Girard-Perregaux Minute Repeater Tourbillon with Gold Bridges

The exaggerated gold bridges are a signature of Girard- Perregaux, but the mechanism they're supporting is totally new. The open dial lets you really admire the complex chiming mechanism that makes this watch special.Tourbillon: Ulysse Nardin Ulysse Anchor Tourbillon

Known more for its ornate and over-the-top watches, this Ulysse Nardin opts for technical innovation instead of brash aesthetics. The tourbillon also boasts a special escapement that further enhances accuracy and reliability over time. Plus that enamel dial is just super handsome. Horological Revelation: Laurent Ferrier Galet Square

Ferrier is a long-time veteran of Patek Philippe and with his own brand is creating very high-end watches in small numbers. This is his first non-round watch and it packs all the same technology in the movement as the round models. Jury Prize: Vacheron Constantin Ref. 57260

This is the most complicated watch ever made. Full stop. It wasn't nominated for anything (it wasn't even announced until just a few weeks ago), but the jury decided to give it a special nod anyway. Innovation Prize: Antoine Preziuso Tourbillon of Tourbillons 

This is the very first watch to combine three tourbillons in a single mechanism, and was created by a father-son duo. This watch also received the public prize, voted for online not by the jury but by the public. It was the only watch to win two awards.Revival Watch: Piaget Extremely Piaget Double Sided Cuff

If the Altiplano shows off Piaget's watchmaking chops, this shows off the brand's jewelry skills. This cuff has two watches and multiple rings of diamonds, recalling vintage pieces from the company's archive.

To contact the author of this story: Stephen Pulvirent inNew York at

 “We have four different models that are made with these traditional techniques but we entered the Ganesh model into the competition because we felt it was the most elaborate one,” a Blancpain spokesperson told 

The supreme GPHG distinction went to independent watchmaker Greubel Forsey who won the coveted Golden Hand award (Aiguille d’Or) for their CHF290,000 Tourbillon 24 Secondes Vision watch.

GPHG is widely regarded as the Oscars of watchmaking and some of the best watch brands compete to win in over a dozen categories. The jury for the competition includes some of the most prominent figures in the watch world, as well as celebrity watch connoisseurs like drummer Eric Singer from the rock band Kiss. The winning watches tour the world, offering publicity for the brands and a spectacle for watch lovers.

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