As 2012 slowly but surely ticks down, the awards season begins. Already, we're being inundated with publicity for films, music, theatre and myriad other things fighting to be named the year's best. The watch industry isn't free of awards fever, either, and the timepiece "Oscars" took place in Geneva, Switzerland, last month, nicely wrapping things up for the big Christmas promotional push.
The Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Geneve is split into categories, the most prestigious prize being the Aiguille d'Or, for the watch judged best overall. This year the distinction went to the Tag Heuer Mikrogirder (top right), a technical marvel and the first watch ever created without a hairspring or balance wheel. In essence the Mikrogirder chronograph has initiated a whole new way of making movements, but there has been no loss of accuracy, with the watch accurate to an unprecedented 1/2,000 of a second. An ultra-high frequency watch, the Mikrogirder beats a mind-boggling 7.2 million times per hour, with the flying chronograph hand rotating 20 times per second. The design is inspired by the technical prowess of the watch, which comes with a rubber strap and anthracite dial. This is a serious piece of kit and it comes as no surprise to learn that it is considered the most precise chronograph ever created. Hong Kong prices for the watch are yet to be announced but in Switzerland it has been going for 150,000 francs (HK$1.25 million).
From the best overall, we go to the best watch for less than 7,500 Swiss francs. The Petite Aiguille prize this year went to the Zenith Pilot Big Date Special (below right), which clocks in at an extremely tempting HK$55,500. In contrast to the forward-looking Mikrogirder, this timepiece takes its inspiration from the past and is a wonderful update of Zenith chronograph watches from the 1960s and earlier. A relatively simple 42mm steel case houses a matt-black dial with classically styled indices and indicators coated in Superluminova. The features are equally classic in nature, with a small seconds hand at the nine o'clock position and a 30-minute counter at the three o'clock position, with the big date of the name placed at the six o'clock position. The movement is the solid and reliable El Primero 4010 calibre that allows for 50 hours of power reserve.
Finally, we come to my favourite award, the Best Complicated Watch, which went to the Greubel Forsey Invention Piece 2 (above left). There are not enough words to do this watch justice but as one would expect from Greubel Forsey, the Invention Piece 2 will elicit sounds and hand gestures, all approving, from watch connoisseurs. The timepiece toys with tourbillon technology by placing two double ones head to tail. There is a sub-dial at the five o'clock position indicating hours and minutes, with a small seconds dial at the 10 o'clock position and a power reserve indicator at the 11 o'clock position. The design offers an unparalleled insight into the engineering craft with which Greubel Forsey makes its watches. A true work of art, the Greubel Forsey Invention Piece 2 is limited to 11 platinum pieces and 11 in red gold, each priced at HK$6.6 million and HK$6.43 million, respectively.