GPHG, a reflection of transformations in the watch industry

May 2024

GPHG, a reflection of transformations in the watch industry

For almost 25 years, the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève has been an ambassador for some of the watch industry’s outstanding achievements through its awards, which bring the winning watches to international attention. This organisation also reflects changes taking place within the industry, such as opening up to younger generations and environmental concerns. The President of the GPHG Foundation, Raymond Loretan, gives more details.


he Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève Academy, initiated in 2020, continues to grow. The currently 960 watch enthusiasts, professionals, journalists, YouTubers and collectors in its ranks take their role - to propose watches for each of the categories in competition - very seriously.

How much more will the Academy grow? “We’re on track to reach our target of 1,000 members by 2025 and are thinking ahead to the years after that,” answers the President of the GPHG Foundation, Raymond Loretan. “We’re examining how the Academy functions, taking stock of previous years and considering additional roles that members might take,” adding that “indications are that the Academy has already enabled a selection process that is beyond reproach and that it cements our core principles of impartiality, universality and solidarity.”

Extending the Academy has given the GPHG greater global reach as each member becomes a representative for the organisation and carries its messages across all five continents.

A question of price

The GPHG has often come under fire for being too elitist, too focused on the high-end (not to say very high end) of the market. “Absolutely not,” answers Raymond Lorentan, who seems almost surprised. “The Challenge category that we introduced in 2018 gives brands the chance of an award with watches at a lower price point, a maximum of CHF 3,000 in 2024. The CIGA Design Blue Planet that won in 2021 cost CHF 1,500. Last year’s winner, the Raymond Weil Millésime Automatic Small Seconds, retails for CHF 1,895. Academy members make very different and eclectic proposals, as much with respect to the origin of the brand [who will be invited to submit their watch for entry] as complications or price. They reflect the diversity of the industry as a whole.”

Raymont Lorétan, Président de la Fondation du GPHG

Eco-innovation, a new horizon

The Innovation award this year becomes the Eco-Innovation award. This echoes the GPHG’s wish to put more emphasis on sustainability. Raymond Loretan explains how the idea came about: “Every idea is a process. We always take a step-by-step approach. We are part of a very traditional environment. If you look at the Innovation prize selection criteria, you’ll see they already include sustainability. We believe the time has come to take an additional step forward and encourage brands, the Academy and the Jury to address sustainability. Our wish is that we should also contribute to this irreversible and vital movement.”

Why not create a separate category entirely? With the tact one would expect from a former diplomat, Raymond Loretan agrees that “it is a possibility but we don’t like to force change. We prefer to let things take shape organically.” Can we expect other awards that centre on sustainability? Again, Raymond Loretan insists on the GPHG’s pragmatic approach: “Absolutely. An award for the watch with the lowest impact is a possibility. It’s a gradual thought process. First we put the idea on the table, then we assess the situation. After that, we set a direction. This is how we approached our education mission, with the launch of our workshops. The same applies to sustainability.”

How else might the GPHG address this fundamental issue? “We consider our own practices, too. We’re starting to calculate our impact, even if we are a small organisation. Opportunities for reducing travel, in particular the roadshows, are limited but it’s something we are looking into. We’re also considering how we can ensure jury members are equipped to evaluate the sustainability of the watches in competition. Should it be through training, through an accompaniment during deliberations? We’re thinking it through. It’s difficult to revolutionise the watch industry but we do try and help it to evolve. We prefer to convince rather than impose. We’ll review the situation, in particular the role and functioning of the Academy, after the 24th GPHG awards ceremony on November 13 at the Théâtre du Léman. We maintain a flexible, pragmatic approach.”

Le Jury et les lauréats de l'édition 2023