Grand Prix d'Horlogerie: The world's most prestigious watchmakers vie for l'Aiguille d'Or in Geneva

Watch enthusiasts are waiting for it. Manufacturers are holding their breath. The minutes are ticking away before one of the highlights of the watchmaking calendar: the Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève, or Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix.

After an international tour, the nominated timepieces were exhibited in Geneva. They are in the running for 20 prizes, including the prestigious Grand Prix de l'Aiguille d'Or.

These awards for watchmaking excellence are the result of a selection process overseen by more than 850 academics from around the world.

"The universal academy allows us to assert that we are impartial. It allows us to assert that we are universal since the academics come from all over the world, but also the watches selected come from all over the world," revealed Raymond Loretan, the president of Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève.

Raymond Loretan, President, Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève
Raymond Loretan, President, Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève - Euronews

"Finally, there is a third principle, which is that of solidarity: it's a call to all the brands to take part in this great festival of watchmaking, which celebrates the excellence of all the watchmaking professions."

The winners of this 23rd edition will be announced here in Geneva on 9 November. There are 90 timepieces in the competition.

What do the watchmakers have in store?

One of the brands to stand out this year is Chopard, based in Geneva.

The independent luxury company, founded in 1860, has already won the Aiguille d'Or in 2017 thanks to its famous L.U.C. Full strike.

This year, four of its creations were nominated. Like this re-edition of the first timepiece in the L.U.C. Collection - named after the founder, Louis-Ulysse Chopard - in a creation made of recycled steel.

"One of our core values has always been creation and research," explained Caroline Scheufele, the co-president of Chopard.

"Research into working with materials that are totally new to watchmaking or jewellery. At Chopard, we are always looking for aesthetics, innovation and beauty, and not necessarily, as we say in English, 'to be loud'."

Chopard is renowned for its jewellery virtuosity. Precious stones and metals are combined with patience and know-how in this gem-setting workshop.

The brand, which makes its own gold alloys, has taken a responsible approach. It is committed to using only ethical gold in its watches and jewellery.

"We've clearly seen an evolution in our customer base when it comes to sustainability issues: more questions are asked in-store, that's for sure, with differences depending on the market," Pauline Evequoz, the head of corporate sustainability at Chopard told Focus.

"But it's also our responsibility, as a company that promotes its sustainability programme, to be able to engage customers, discuss these issues with them to raise their awareness and enable them to influence their consumer choices."

Pauline Evequoz, Head of Corporate Sustainability, Chopard
Pauline Evequoz, Head of Corporate Sustainability, Chopard - Euronews

A total of 56 brands are represented at this year's Grand Prix.

The Swiss region of Schaffhausen, close to the German border is the home of IWC, three essential letters for all watch lovers.

The company, known for its cutting-edge engineering and materials, is also presenting four timepieces, including two perpetual calendars: the Lake Tahoe aviator's watch with its white ceramic case, and the elegant Portofino, which conceals a jewel of watchmaking technology beneath its dial.

"We still have the idea that everything we create here will survive time," explained Christian Knoop, the creative director at IWC Schaffhausen.

"This 'beyond time' not only talks about the durability and longevity of the materials and creations, but it also captures the dream of many of our customers who purchase products that are made to last for generations. And this comes together for me in the most perfect way in our perpetual calendars."

IWC is also presenting two long-awaited versions of its iconic model: the Ingenieur, imagined by watch design legend Gerald Genta almost 50 years ago.

Christian Knoop, Creative Director, IWC Schaffhausen
Christian Knoop, Creative Director, IWC Schaffhausen - Euronews

"Each new collection is walking a fine line between the past and the future," Christian Koop added. "

We pay tribute to what makes IWC IWC, to what is recognisable, to what can be associated with the brand, while at the same time infusing many ideas and surprising our customers with new innovations. And this idea of having a very pure and reduced design, combined with ultimate accuracy and robustness, is still the idea behind many of the watches we have in our portfolio today."

In the run-up to the ceremony on 9 November, a cultural programme is taking place on the exhibition site to share the passion for watchmaking with everyone, especially young people.