The wait is over, the results are in — last night the world’s most prestigious watchmaking award ceremony took place in Geneva, and we can now present you with a shortlist of the world’s most coveted timepieces. Makers big and small submitted their latest creations to a jury of experts, with 84 watches spanning 14 categories, and it was the job of a diverse jury of professionals and collectors from across the world to select 2019’s champions.
This year, the winner of watchmaking’s most prestigious industry award is the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin, while GJ favourites Tudor and Vacheron Constantin also triumphed in the Challenge and Innovation categories respectively. Read on for our round-up of the watches you should be watching this year.
“Aiguille D’or” Grand Prix: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Perpetual Calendar Ultra-thin
In this beguiling model Audemars Piguet has achieved something that was long suspected impossible — a perpetual calendar watch with an ultra thin movement just 2.89mm in height. For this, the perpetual calendar function, normally stacked on three levels, has been combined into a single later. The feat required two pieces of engineering innovation that have, on their own terms, received patents.
Together, they’re nothing short of remarkable — the end-of-the-month cam has been integrated to the date wheel, while the month cam has been combined to the month wheel. This is ingenious watchmaking if ever we’ve seen it. Just as important, however, are the looks. And this model is truly stunning.
Chronometry Watch Prize: Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud, Carburised Steel Regulator
The winner of this year’s chronometry prize has a history that goes all the way back to 1767 — it’s modelled, in essence, on the marine chronometer No. 7 created by Ferdinand Berthoud himself. But the latter day model defies convention and tradition at every turn. The black rhodium-plated nickel silver regulator plate is satin-brushed by hand, and the dial features three openings: one for the hours (at 2 o’clock), another for the minutes (at 12 o’clock) and a third for the power reserve (at 10 o’clock).
Inside, the FB-T.FC.R calibre is ultra precise, thanks to a direct-drive centre seconds tourbillon whose constant force is provided by a fusee-and-chain transmission mechanism and a satellite differential gear. The striking and deeply innovative watch is available as a 20-piece limited edition in a handsome carburised stainless steel.
Iconic Watch Prize: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak "Jumbo" Extra-thin
The word ‘iconic’ is bandied about with alarming flippancy in the watch world, where challenger brands desperate for some cut-price heritage attach the moniker to any and every model — even if said model is unlikely to be remembered in two years’ time. But the latest addition to the Royal Oak “Jumbo” canon from Audemars Piguet can safely be described as iconic.
A version of this watch first appeared, with identical dimensions to this incarnation, at the 1972 watch fair in Basel. But this new iteration is a beautiful step forward. Audemars Piguet got it right in the first place, all those years ago — and then added a layer of excellence to boot. With its case, bracelet and bezel cast in 18-carat white gold, the new Jumbo is an echo of its forefather, which was designed to be the first luxury sports watch made from stainless steel.
Challenge Watch Prize: Tudor Black Bay P01
In 1967, at the height of the US Navy’s supersonic prototyping phase, the military powers-that-be gave Tudor a challenge; to develop a timepiece with some very specific technical requirements. This wristwatch needed to have a better-protected crown than any watch that had come before it. It was instructed to have locked spring bars, and a bidirectional bezel was also required — one that could also be removed for cleaning.
Tudor, never ones to shy away from a challenge, set to work. Building on their existing Submariner model, the Swiss watchmaker codenamed the project ‘Commando’ — and ticked every single one of the demanding US Navy’s boxes. Wind that pioneering watch forwards half a century and the ‘Commando’ is back in service, courtesy of Tudor’s new Black Bay P01. Based on the original prototype, this industrial-styled, satin-brushed new release from the Swiss watchmaker has remained pleasingly faithful to its utilitarian roots. The edges of the case are not bevelled, the house markers are printed onto the dial — rather than applied, and the crown guard is functional, not fashioned.
Inside the case, it’s a similar story. The MT5612 calibre may be COSC-certified as a chronometer, but it clearly puts function before flash. Fitted with a non-magnetic silicon balance spring, variable inertia balance and a suitably serviceable 70-hour power reserve, it may have the bells and whistles, but the P01 still considers itself hardware.
Men’s Complication Watch Prize: Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet Minute Repeater Supersonnerie
The minute repeater supersonnerie enriches the 11.59 collection with a revamped high-end complication that continues to profit from the strong momentum of the minute repeater supersonnerie technology launched in 2016. This contemporary wristwatch has the sonic power of a pocket watch. Its exceptional acoustic performance, sound quality and harmonic tone are granted by the patented gongs, case construction and striking regulator developed at the time. The performant gongs are not attached to the mainplate, but to a new device acting as soundboard, which improves sound transmission. The redesigned striking regulator eliminates unwanted noise thanks to its more flexible anchor system.
The 18 carat white gold case is complemented by a smoked blue enamel dial set off by white gold hands, applied indexes and numerals, as well as an Audemars Piguet signature in enamel. The soundwave caseback design is inspired by the watch’s exceptional acoustics.
Innovation Prize: Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar
Over its 264 years of horological excellence, Vacheron Constantin has established an unshakeable reputation for meaningful innovation in technical and design domains. Today defining the future of fine mechanical watchmaking, Vacheron Constantin presents the Traditionnelle Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar, a timepiece that can adapt to its wearer’s needs.
When worn, the Traditionnelle Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar beats at a high frequency that is aligned with modern active lifestyles, displaying the hours, minutes, date, month, leap year cycle and power reserve on its dial. When the watch is not being worn, its in-house developed calibre 3610 QP can be slowed down in order to guarantee an extended power reserve of at least 65 days.
Want a piece of watchmaking history for yourself? Here are the watches to bid for at Only Watch 2019…