The best watches of 2016, according to the Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève

Every year in Geneva, a panel of 28 judges across the fields of watchmaking, jewellery, retail, and journalism gather to determine which are the best timepieces that came out that year.

The watches vying for an honor in the Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Geneve fall into 12 categories, from sport watches to artistic watches to watches that have exceptional complications. Overall, one winner is chosen, the true winner of the "Grand Prix."

(The prize trophy is a small upraised hand and wrist, modelled in gold, just waiting for a watch to be strapped on.)

Geneva convention

Before the cocktail party announcing the winners, at the Hotel Kempinski on Lake Geneva, some of the jurists shared their thoughts on why such a prize is necessary in a world in which the consumer, in the end, decides which watches will succeed and fail.

"Wristwatches are superfluous, but these awards urge [brands] to push things forward in interesting and important ways," said Ben Clymer, a jury member and the founder of the website Hodinkee.

"What the foundation has understood over the years is that there is no one, perfect watch that ticks every box," added Aurel Bacs, the founder of Philips's vaunted vintage watch program. "The number of categories has increased, so you can compare apples to apples."

No smartwatches, OK?

There were no smartwatches among this year's finalists, although they are not barred from entry if they have a mechanical movement as well. (For example, Frederique Constant entered a horological smartwatch in the past; it did not become a finalist.) This is a topic of some debate among the members of the jury, and tempers flared when it was raised in a group discussion.

"We should give up 500 years of [mechanical] watchmaking?" sneered Claude Sfier, a jeweller from Beirut, when asked if there should be a smartwatch category in the future.

"I'd feel like I'm showing up with a soft drink at a wine tasting," agreed Bacs. "I have a problem mixing things that shouldn't be mixed."


Scroll through the gallery above to see the year's best watches, according to the GPHG.