GPHG 2015: Artistic Crafts Watches
With the pre-selected Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève watches now visible on the organization’s own site, enthusiasts can see all the nominees for the annual “Oscars of the watchmaking industry”on October 29. Until then, we will annotate the list of nominated watches for you with a series of posts, organized by category, so you can put each nominee into context.

All told, 72 timepieces will be competing to win the “Aiguille d’Or” Grand Prize or one of the 16 prizes awarded for creative talent and watchmaking expertise. Readers can submit their own vote for the Public Prize at the GPGH site, where each voter also enters a contest to win a Glorious Knight Chronograph by DeWitt.

Today we look at the watches nominated in the Artistic Crafts category.

BLANCPAIN—VILLERET—CADRAN SHAKUDO

Japanese in origin, shakudo is an alloy primarily composed of copper and gold that acquires a deep patina over time, encouraged by the application of a solution called rokusho. Historically used to decorate swords and other decorative objects, the artisans who practiced this art form often added engravings and other ornamentation. In the Cadran Shakudo, Blancpain brings this art to a watch dial, here featuring the image of Ganesh. The decor is crafted in Damascene, which consists of fashioning troughs on the dial surface into which fine threads of gold are hammered in place and hand-engraved. The 45mm red gold watch features a see-through caseback to view the hand-wound caliber 15B decorated movement.

GIRARD PERREGAUX—THE CHAMBERS OF WONDERS–THE NEW WORLD

From the Master of Maps collection, this watch immortalizes Renaissance images in a numbered edition of watches. Part of a collection of three designs representing three eras and three worlds, this watch focuses on the New World depicted with a colorful map. The pink gold 1966 is fitted with an automatic manufacture caliber, the GP03300, whose mainplate and bridges are carefully drawn, chamfered and circular grained and decorated. Just 18 examples of the Chambers of Wonder–The New World are available.

HARRY WINSTON—PREMIER PRECIOUS BUTTERFLY AUTOMATIC 36MM

The vibrant colors of the Premier Precious Butterfly timepieces are created using the fragile—and iridescent—powder found on butterfly wings. Harry Winston designers harvested and placed this delicate pigment on each of the dials to create a design that is both realistic and ethereal. Inside the 36mm pink gold watch is a self-winding mechanical movement driving the hours and minutes, with a power reserve of 72 hours. Fifty-seven diamonds decorate the case, which is affixed to a satin strap.

HERMÈS—SLIM D’HERMÈS KOMA KURABÉ

Graced with a porcelain dial that features the Koma Kurabé horse race that is held once a year in Kyoto, this watch features the imagery of Buzan Fukushima, one of the few artisans who still exercises the Aka-e technique that enjoyed its heyday in 19th century Japan. The master deftly wields his brush to create subtly graded shades of red and ochre, which he coats with a fine layer of gold to complete his work of art. The 39.5mm white gold watch has a self-winding mechanical movement with 42 hours of power reserve.

PIAGET—ALTIPLANO SCRIMSHAW

Scrimshaw refers to the elaborate engravings in the form of pictures and lettering, usually on bone or tooth, highlighted using a pigment. It dates to the early years of whaling, when crewmembers would engrave their designs on the teeth and bones of the large mammals. Here, Piaget offers the technique on a dial engraved with a world map in neutral tones of ivory and brown. The 38mm pink gold watch has a manual-winding movement featuring hours and minutes.

ROMAIN GAUTHIER—LOGICAL ONE SECRET KAKAU HÖFKE

Romain Gauthier pays tribute to Rio de Janeiro with the Logical One Secret Kakau Höfke. Brazilian artist Kakau Höfke’s eye-catching portrayal of her native city Rio evokes Corcovado–the iconic mountain on which stands the "Christ the Redeemer" statue–as well as the pattern that features on the promenade bordering Ipanema beach. Her design has been re-created using an intricate micro-marquetry technique carried out by artisans at the Geneva atelier of Olivier Vaucher, using no fewer than 352 miniature tiles of jade and agate. This unique white gold piece measures 43mm and is powered by a manual-winding movement.
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