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GPHG and Dubai Watch Week send watchmaking traveling

Since watches have lost their monopoly on time indication, they have had to reinvent their very reason for being. The existential function has given way to various desirability factors including being a part of a group or social status ; expressing a love of mechanics or a passion for craftsmanship ; conveying aesthetic seduction or technological prowess ; symbolizing innovation and a taste for performance ; representing a reward or commemorative gift ; as well as reflecting a penchant for ostentatious luxury or impulsive self-satisfaction… Fortunately there are many reasons for acquiring a watch, and even more for giving one as a present.

That being said, watch brands still need to nurture such desires, to stimulate these must-have drivers and to trigger these emotional mechanisms leading to acquisition. The pages of high-quality magazines such as GMT or specialized websites such as WorldTempus are prime stimuli ; tradeshows such as Baselworld or SIHH are designed precisely with this in mind ; while key events such as the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève and Dubai Watch Week take a cultural approach and round out the range of promotional means available to the watch industry. The Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève leaves the City of Calvin to meet the world, while Dubai Watch Week serves as a temporary annual Middle Eastern embassy for Swiss watchmaking.


Just as about one-quarter of the GPHG jury is renewed each year, the roadshow organized between the official selection in September and the prize-giving ceremony in November explores new paths each autumn. Last year, the 72 pre-selected watches were exhibited in Venice, Hong Kong, Singapore and Vienna, the year before in Milan and Taipei, while the 2019 vintage has already flown to Sydney, Bangkok and Mexico City (as part of the SIAR, a highly renowned local watchmaking exhibition), and will travel to Dubai once the final vote has been cast. As every year, the longest exhibition is naturally held in Geneva, this time once again in Geneva’s Musée d’art et d’histoire from November 1st to 14th. This exhibition is worth a visit for two main reasons. First of all because it also hosts the exhibition of the 60 photos of the Watch Photo Awards (the first international watch photo competition for the general public, another initiative designed to promote fine watchmaking), but above all because it is possible to admire extraordinary watches up close. In each of the 14 categories of the GPHG, the six watches selected by the jury of experts theoretically represent the best in watchmaking. Each one is a show in itself. Some of these watches are very rare and to see them is exceptional. Moreover, in this context they can actually be touched, since their staging does not include a glass showcase. The artisan Xavier Dietlin has designed an astonishingly effective secure presentation table for the occasion. The award ceremony at the Théâtre du Léman is broadcast live on www.worldtempus.com on November 7th 2019.


At the initiative of the prestigious local retailer Seddiqi & Sons, Dubai Watch Week is first and foremost an artistic and cultural event, bringing together the creative forces of the watch industry of all sizes and from practically all horizons. Human relations are of paramount importance. Watch brand CEOs make themselves available for discussions with the public and with experts. One comes across renowned artisans such as Philippe Dufour who produce only a few dozen watches per year, as well as CEOs of major luxury brands – although it is true that the “small independents” enjoy a very special place here. This has in no way prevented the noteworthy presence of Rolex this year, even though it is not very used to this type of event bringing together other watch brands. This year, some 30 of them will be running booths and holding discussion forums. For its fourth edition, from November 20th to 24th 2019, Dubai Watch Week (DWW) will be held at the Dubai International Financial Center on the theme Innovation & Technology, celebrating what can happen when radical thinking meets technical ability. The aim is to further the reputation of watchmaking, to make its values understood, as well as to explain the titanic work behind-the-scenes done by manufacturers and resulting in this art of the infinitely small (as highlighted by Thierry Stern in his interview on page 32 about Patek Philippe’s Watch Art Grand Exhibition). The numerous watch-themed experiences that await visitors, collectors or simply curious individuals in search of something new will include the GPHG exhibition, as well as a theme from the Watch Photo Awards specially created for the DWW on which they will be invited to vote in order to reward the author of the best photo. It is worth recalling at this point that watchmaking has since 2012 been institutionalized as the 12th Art, the art of time measurement. So let’s all get involved with this art form.

Keep track of it all on www.gphg.org, www.dubaiwatchweek.com,

www.worldtempus.com and www.watch-photo-awards.com

Brice Lechevalier is editor-in-chief of GMT and Skippers, which he co-founded in 2000 and 2001 respectively. He has also been CEO of WorldTempus since it joined the GMT Publishing stable, of which he is director and joint shareholder. In 2012 he created the Geneva Watch Tour, and he has been an advisor to the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève since 2011. Also closely involved in sailing, he has published the magazine of the Société Nautique de Genève since 2003, and was one of the founders of the SUI Sailing Awards in 2009 and the Concours d’Elégance for motor boats at the Cannes Yachting Festival in 2015.

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