In perusing the names of the 2020 jury of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève , two distinct things became self-evident: the whole jury is based in Switzerland and it is far less assorted than it has been throughout the last decade.
It was foregone conclusion to me that the current year’s jury would be chosen from among the GPHG Academy’s Swiss inhabitants: the ongoing COVID-19 crisis has made travel once again all however unimaginable. Thusly, the jury has both the alternative of meeting face to face safely and attending the award ceremony on November 12 should an in-person occasion be possible.
However, this means that the variety of the jury has been drastically reduced and features just six ladies (22 percent of the total).
Of this rundown of 30, also just six individuals have recently been on the jury sooner or later: René Beyer, Philippe Dufour, Gianfranco Ritschel, Pierre Salanitro, and Patrick Wehrli. Aurel Bacs returns as jury president, a position he has satisfied since 2011 if memory serves.
Composition of the GPHG 2020 jury
Here is a listing of the new jury individuals, separated by occupation. A few names are recorded twice in my breakdown since these individuals may satisfy more than one occupation.
Watchmakers: Pierre Amstutz (director of the Geneva Watchmaking School ), Denis Asch, Vincent Calabrese (co-organizer of the A.H.C.I.) , Philippe Dufour, Jean-Michel Piguet (leader of Chronométrophilia ), Gianfranco Ritschel ( Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie trainer ), Patrick Wehrli, Jean-Marc Wiederrecht ( Agenhor )
Suppliers: Isabelle Chillier ( Fiedler/watch hands), Eric Giroud (designer), Denis Hayoun (photographer), Georges Humard ( Humard Automation/large machinery), Jean-Noël Lefèvre ( Vaucher/developments), Hubert Lorenz ( Mimotec/LIGA and silicon components), Pierre Salanitro ( Salanitro/gemsetting), Elisabeth Saulcy ( STS Saulcy Traitement de Surface/finishing, decorating developments), Jean-Marc Wiederrecht (Agenhor)
Retail: René Beyer ( Beyer ), Denis Asch (past proprietor of L’Heure Asch), Ignaz Steg ( Les Ambassadeurs ), Antonio Teixeira ( Bucherer ), Aurel Bacs ( Phillips )
Consultants: Alexandre Favez (has worked in the background for the GPHG foundation since 2003 preparing the competition watches, for example), Denis Asch, Patrick Wehrli, Alexander Friedman (co-originator Watchonista )
Journalists/publishers: Marie de Pimodan (freelance author), Alexander Friedman (co-originator Watchonista; this organization isn’t simply journalistic and also works for brands hence the inclusion in “consultants”), Brice Lechevalier (Worldtempus/ GMT/Skippers ), Pierre-André Schmitt ( Watch Around ), Caroline Spir ( l’Agefi Life )
Educators: Pierre Amstutz, Gianfranco Ritschel, Valérie Ursenbacher (designer/watch design chair at HEAD University of Art and Design in Geneva )
Miscellaneous: Fabienne Lupo (past leader of Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie/Watches & Wonders ), Jean-Michel Piguet, Guy Sémon (past head of LVMH’s research and advancement department), François-Henry Bennhamias, CEO of Audemars Piguet (the earlier year’s victor of the Aiguille d’Or joins the jury for one year and that brand may not enter a watch).
My thoughts on the jury
First off, my thoughts as to the variety factor. I know firsthand that Carine Maillard, director of the GPHG since 2011, has invested a lot of energy into having more ladies addressed on the jury. It’s hard to fault this aspect of the composition as I realize that exertion was certainly made in this direction, obviously I would have wanted for more female representation.
As to the variety of the jury, not including gender, with COVID-19 travel restrictions in place and the eventual fate of anything extremely, hard to see in either the short or long term, the decision to stay inside Switzerland’s lines ought to guarantee that the occasion has its most obvious opportunity with regards to going forward. Voting day is the main component as handling the finalist watches and discussing them with colleagues is the most critical advance in determining winners. It is difficult to fairly judge categories, especially Artistic Crafts and Jewelry, without actually handling the timepieces.
Whether the final occasion winds up being digital – not a bad concession – or face to face with a restricted number of guests, the main work will have been accomplished and awards can be handed out.
As you can find in my breakdown, the quantity of technicians on the jury has been pushed up widely, regardless of whether trained watchmakers or proprietors/CEOs of providers to the watch business. The total count of such individuals is 15 (16 in the event that you include Sémon), (more than) half the jury. I consider this a good thing.
There are three strong active retailers on the jury and others representing various brand interests such as Audemars Piguet CEO Bennahmias – though in principle he ought to be neutral during the discussions; I have noticed various CEOs in past discussions in the room as being non-present, not wanting to give any kind of false impressions and certainly not volunteering to be in the occasionally uproarious and passionate talks that take place. I would have been exceptionally intrigued to see Bennahmias in this year’s discussions as he is an alternate sort of personality. Be that as it may, back to the subject at hand: this isn’t excessively “brand presence” on the jury to make a real biased difference.
I applaud as uproariously as I can the inclusion of Jean-Marc Wiederrecht, Valérie Ursenbacher, and Fabienne Lupo on this jury, three excellent voices with profound established knowledge and fair attitudes. I have known Wiederrecht for an excessive number of years to count, and there is hardly a seriously interesting, balanced, and knowledgeable discussion partner on the planet. As he was to the FHH Cultural Council a couple of years ago, here he will make for a specialist addition with amazing insights that he isn’t afraid to share in his humble, yet compelling manner.
I worked with Lupo on the FHH Cultural Council for a good decade, and I have come to know and greatly respect her. I had trusted she would join the GPHG jury past to this, yet I am glad she is here at this point. She also will actually want to bring a balanced look to things, I’m certain. And I realize she realizes how to get her assessment across.
If you’re of a certain age, you might recall Ursenbacher as one of the three designers that made up HD3 Complication, a brief company that existed in the blast years of the mechanical renaissance (2000-2011). It came forward from the design department of Jörg Hysek’s company (Hysek was one of the other two designers included). After spending many years as a freelance designer, Ursenbacher started teaching at HEAD in 2015 and is presently the chair of watch design. She is an excellent and visionary designer.
Summing up, this is a fair and balanced jury, and I would have anticipated hearing a portion of the more industrially disapproved of assessments that will undoubtedly sparkle here (though according to the standards I won’t ever will). There are much more industry insiders present here than expected, which may tip a few judgements uniquely in contrast to earlier years’ more different juries – various as far as knowledge level and geographical influence above all.
As you can also plainly find in our various GPHG round tables, this will undoubtedly be an interesting year for the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève.
For more information, please visit www.gphg.org/horlogerie .
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