he GPHG Academy, the vox populi of the institution, has expanded considerably over recent years, particularly in terms of the diversity of its members. Who are they? How do they approach their responsibilities? Europa Star is introducing the Academy members, both veterans and newcomers, through a series of portraits illustrating the diversity of their interests and talents in the watch industry.
GIORGIA MONDANI, THE COMMUNICATOR
For our first encounter, we approached Giorgia Mondani.
Alongside her husband, this watch enthusiast manages a prestigious family firm specialising in publishing. She has also written and edited a number of reference works herself. She’s very active on social media, and also works as a communication and digital strategy consultant for several watch companies.
- Giorgia Mondani
We met her during the latest edition of Watches and Wonders in Geneva, where the Italian specialist told us how seriously she takes her role in the Academy. “It’s an immense honour. Last year, when I received the email telling me I was to become a jury member, I couldn’t believe it. I was so nervous, I put off answering the email. But in the end I accepted, of course! I felt genuinely honoured.”
Apart from the pleasure and honour of being part of it, she also acknowledges the major responsibility of the role. For her, the GPHG represents the “main institution” of watchmaking today. “The Grand Prix that takes place each year in Geneva is a key moment for the industry. Being a member of the Academy is an unbelievable opportunity, which gives credibility and meaning to everything we do. The quality of the members is very high – that’s what makes it such an important institution. So, being a member of the jury brings an additional responsibility because our decisions carry even more weight.”
This new responsibility has made her even more observant at watch fairs, where she is keen to identify the strongest trends of the moment. Browsing the opulent aisles of Watches and Wonders, she says how happy she is to experience such a positive atmosphere, a sentiment shared by many. “I feel a sense of renewed motivation from all the participants, big brands and small independents alike. The smaller brands are as interesting as ever, with their innovative and unconventional products. But I also detect a real sense of renewal and modernisation from some of the big brands’ most iconic models. I’ve seen a lot of tourbillons this year, along with plenty of bright colours and a stronger presence of titanium. It’s also been a year for anniversaries, including the 60th anniversary of the TAG Heuer Carrera, which showcases the original heritage of the model. Once again this year, the brands are drawing an enormous amount of inspiration from the past.” Does she have any ideas about the 2023 Grand Prix?
With her broad and expressive smile, Giorgia Mondani explains that she must maintain confidentiality, although she happily admits that, “To be honest, the week was so intense that it’s difficult to think that far ahead. There is so much innovation, so much beauty. There seems to be more every year! The competition will be very close, and it will be difficult to make a decision.”
CARSON CHAN, THE WATCH PROFESSOR
At Watches and Wonders we crossed paths with another watch industry celebrity, a member of the Academy of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève and an expert whose knowledge and willingness to share his expertise and enthusiasm are legendary: Carson Chan.
A longtime collector on his own behalf, Carson Chan is the Master Trainer of the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie. He spends the majority of his time educating industry professionals and amateur watch lovers. He’s known on social media as the Watch Professor.
- Carson Chan
How does he see his role in the GPHG Academy?
“It’s an honour to be part of this extended family,” he says. “The Academy guarantees the impartiality of the vote. It also provides an openness of spirit towards an increasingly broad panel of potential candidates.”
Does attending watch fairs like Watches and Wonders make it easier for him to detect the broad trends within the industry?
Carson Chan agrees. “This year, we have seen more and more brands who realise that the original functionality of mechanical watches is less and less important. That opens up a host of possibilities in terms of design and mechanisms, to make room for pure pleasure. So we’re seeing more colours and brighter shades. Colourful precious stones are also more prevalent, as are jewellery watches. And decorations are increasingly visible, accentuating the vibrancy and attractiveness of mechanical watchmaking. If you need proof, the public open days were sold out in just a few hours.”
Does seeing all these innovative watches give him any ideas about the GPHG prizes later in the year? The Watch Professor is happy to oblige, without giving away any secrets: “There are definitely some indications. I can even tell you that I’ve already identified a number of potential winners in several categories.”