The GPHG — The Fondation du Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève — run the watch industry Oscars. We’ve had a look at three of their six finalists in the Ladies‘, Ladies’ Complication, Mens‘ and Men’s Complication categories. Time to turn our attention to Iconic. Watches that transcend time, if you will. It’s tough call, obvs. But here’s my GPHG three watch shortlist (including a wild card) with official pics and edited copy . . .
TAG-Heuer Monaco – 6’400 CHF ($6,446.74)
Launched on the 3rd of March 1969, the Monaco is a symbol of innovation by its design and technology. It has always been different: square waterproof case, contrasted sub-counters and a hint of red on the dial, crown on the left side of the case and automatic chronograph movement
Behind this, the aura of two men, Jack Heuer, then CEO and Steve McQueen in the movie Le Mans and a tumultuous story. The Monaco is THE paradoxical icon. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Monaco, TAG Heuer invented a new version in terms of colors to symbolize the 80s, very much “Racing Red”. Limited edition of 169 pieces, hint to the Monaco year of birth.
True to the 1969 one, square shape with crown on the left side, at 9 o’clock. The steel caseback is plain, inspired by the original Monaco, and engraved with the “Monaco Heuer” logo as well as “1979-1989 Special Edition” and “One of 169.”
The color combination, metallic red, silver and black, is directly inspired by the 80s. The sunray finish has this perfect touch of the 80s, synonymous with cutting-edge design and racing victory. Black and white accents on the dial perfectly complement the black-tipped hour and minute hands, polished, facetted indexes, horizontal like in the original Monaco. Hands are coated with SuperLuminova®.
The strap is a black calfskin leather lined in red, with the motoracing holes like in 1969. Polished folding clasp in stainless steel
The 1969 Calibre 11 was based on a micro-rotor for the automatic rewinding system and an additional layer for the chronograph module.
Today is an improved version with an oscillating mass at the backside of the movement for the rewinding system but the crown remains on the left side thanks to a specific development for TAG Heuer, to be true to the iconic codes of the Monaco.
TAG Heuer Automatic Calibre 11, diameter 30 mm, 59 jewels, balance oscillating at a frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour (4 Hz), 40-hour power reserve. Chronograph function with 30 minute recorder subcounter at 9 o’clock, running second subcounter at 3 o’clock; window date at 6 o’clock.
It’s hip to be square. The hideous half-digital [sic] TAG Heur Monaco Sixty Nine won the GPHG in 2005. This gong would be a form of redemption.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin – 55’700 CHF ($56,106.78)
Two much-loved pieces of the past come together in this 39 mm model. For the first time, the pink gold-toned “Petite Tapisserie” dial that appeared for the Royal Oak’s 20th anniversary in 1992 is matched with a satin-brushed 18-carat white gold case and bracelet. White gold was only used once in the 1980s for a Royal Oak with a blue dial and diamond-set hour-markers.
A watch so iconic Audemars Piguet didn’t even bother submitting a paragraph to the GPHG on the genesis of Gerald Genta’s timeless design. Fair enough. [Want one? Click here.]
IWC Tribute to Pallweber Edition “150 Years” – 38’000 CHF ($38,277.90)
IWC’s first-ever wristwatch with jumping numerals pays tribute to the historical Pallweber pocket watches. It shows the hours and minutes in large numerals on rotating discs.
In 1884, IWC manufactured the first so-called Pallweber pocket watches. These innovative timepieces showed the hours and minutes in a digital format with large numerals on rotating discs. In its anniversary year, IWC honours this pioneering achievement with the IWC Tribute to Pallweber Edition “150 Years”.
This model is limited to 250 watches and has an 18-carat 5N gold case, a white dial with a lacquered finish, and white display discs. As a reference to the design of the historical Pallweber watches and a tribute to F.A. Jones – the American watchmaker who founded IWC – the windows of the digital display are labelled as “Hours” and “Minutes”.
The IWC-manufactured 94200 calibre advances the display discs by using a separate wheel train with a barrel of its own. The fact that the flow of power in the main wheel train is uninfluenced guarantees a precise rate and a 60-hour power reserve.
Huh? An A. Lange & Sohne-esque riff of an important IWC pocket watch does not an iconic watch make, especially as this one inspired exactly no IWC wristwatch designs. Where’s the IWC Porsche Titanium chronograph, [almost] the first titanium wristwatch, a design that launched the brand’s current, dignified black-and-white style?