This year’s Grand Prix d’Horlogerie turned up more than a few surprises with the normally insular Swiss awards ceremony defying convention and looking at the wider watch world for once.
The biggest shake-ups came early on with the first award of the night, the Challenge prize for watches priced at CHF 3,500 or less ($3,800 USD), going to the relatively unknown Chinese brand CIGA Design and the Men’s watch award going to the Grand Seiko SLGH005.
The Swiss industry as a whole isn’t big on admitting that watches are made in parts of the world other than Switzerland and collectively held a grudge against Japanese watchmakers for decades for decimating Switzerland’s mechanical watch industry in the 1970s with its introduction of quartz technology. While Grand Seiko’s watchmaking is widely respected among collectors, this is only the Japanese brand’s second win at the “Oscars of the Watch World.”
China’s involvement in watchmaking – and Swiss watchmaking – still largely goes unmentioned, although it’s widely known that many Swiss brands have components made in China, which are then either finished or assembled in Switzerland. To put the words Swiss Made on a dial, 60% of its value must added in Switzerland, although it’s not clear how, or even if, those conditions are measured or policed.
The second big controversy of the evening was two big wins for