GPHG 2016 – Men’s watches: A category big on Moments Japanese Movement Replica


Nearly half of the watches competing in the men’s category in this year’s GPHG 2016 feature a small seconds indication. This may or may not be a coincidence, given that watches entered in this category may only have a maximum of two additional indications from among those of the date, power reserve or moon phase. Small seconds are fine, however, as are a TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre Heuer 01 chronograph (a complication that has its own category) and a Louis Vuitton Voyager GMT (travel time watches also have their own category). As with other categories, we find watches here that we might reasonably expect to find in other categories. And if the 90,000 Swiss franc HYT Skull Bad Boy isn’t the personification of a “Mechanical Exception”, then what is? (Although, to be fair, the Neuchâtel-based HYT submitted its more traditional H2 Tradition in the latter category.)


At the preselection phase the jury may find it hard to choose between classically themed models from the likes of Carl F. Bucherer, Chopard, Czapek, Grönefeld and Hermès, all of which present a similar face and similar functions with cases in red gold. Urban Jürgensen competes in a similar vein, but with a moon phase display as the added bonus and a case in white gold.


The jurors also face two head-to-head contests between skeleton watches with decidedly different characters. The Bulgari Octo Finissimo Skeleton and Raymond Weil Freelancer Skeleton both have a refined elegance, pitching red gold accents against a black background (although the latter costs just a tenth the price of the former!), while Armin Strom and Hublot bring out the mechanical aspects of their watches. As the name hints, the Armin Strom Edge Double Barrel is the brand’s first attempt to offer an edgier side to its skeletonized movements, while Hublot opts for a more playful approach that will appeal to big boys who used to play with Meccano, which served as the inspiration for the movement architecture.

Regardless of the visible equilibrium wheels, the dial remains very legible. The ideal half of the dial homes the sub dial that tells the moment. The hour and minute hands are made from rose gold. They are chunky and are painted with luminescent material to guarantee legibility in low light conditions. The sub dial is black and the hours are indicated by Arabic numerals in increased gold (black and rose gold is a winning combination for me personally). The brand and the model of the watch form a smaller circle inside the dial. I’m not so sure I need to be educated of this watch’s name on the dialup, but this is not a deal-breaker for me personally. Nevertheless, I would however, favor a cleaner design.To the left are two subsidiary seconds dials with very cool-looking triple-spoke moments hands. What’s even more peculiar is that the next palms spin in opposite directions. The top hand spins counter-clockwise, while the reduced hand moves in a clockwise direction. It creates a fairly nice looking effect. Based on Armin Strom, it requires less than 10 minutes to the effects of resonance to take good care of both running seconds hands, and you will see them beating in unison.And further to the left of the two subsidiary seconds dials will be the celebrities of the watch – both resonating equilibrium wheels. The two wheels oscillate at a rather unusual speed of 25,200bph, but what’s really unique about it’s the patented resonance clutch that joins both balance wheels through the balance spring studs (the ends of the balance spring). This clutch allows the transmission of vibrational drives between both equilibrium wheels, allowing them to locate a natural rhythm so that they can overcome in unison.

Only a few brands have submitted pure three-hand models, one of which is Fabergé, whose “Altruist” model heralds the first non-complicated gent’s watch in the brand’s core collection, with a case in white gold and a Vaucher Manufacture movement. It would be hard to think of a more classic watch design than Seiko’s Grand Seiko Spring Drive 8 Day Power Reserve. But the 67,000 Swiss franc price tag for this watch demands that we take a closer look and we quickly discover that the devil is in the detail: a platinum case polished using the brand’s Zaratsu technique, slender hands (the longest to be found in this collection) with five different facets and the mesmerizing “diamond dust” dial all add up to a Grand Seiko like no other, with a power reserve indicator for the 8-day movement with its unbeatable accuracy of +/- 10 seconds per month visible through the sapphire case back.


The jury has shown its willingness to recognize non-Swiss watch brands in the past three editions of the Grand Prix in the Petite Aiguille category, in which Austria’s Habring2 took the honours in 2013 and 2015 and Seiko won in 2014 with a Grand Seiko Hi-Beat model. Maybe it’s easier for non-Swiss brands to compete on price, but statistically, Seiko’s chances of being pre-selected are even: in the history of the GPHG the Japanese brand has submitted 10 watches and had five pre-selected.