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The ones to watch out for
THIS year's Grand Prix d' Horlogerie de Geneve will see smartwatches slug it out with their mechanical counterparts to see who comes out tops in the categories for Sports and Petite Aiguille (affordable and excellent) timepieces.
In keeping up with market trends, the luxury watch industry's equivalent of Hollywood's Academy Awards says it will now accept entries for smartwatches in these two groupings in its yearly event which takes place in November in Geneva.
But of the 18 watches competing in 2017 in the Petite Aiguille section, only two are smartwatches - one from TAG Heuer and one from Montblanc, two of the big brands which have taken smartwatches seriously. There are no smartwatches vying for the Sports watch title, though there's one in the Tourbillon and Escapement classification.
GPHG 2017 will also include competing timepieces with special escapement in the Tourbillon category as well as classic timepieces with a digital or retrograde display in the Men's watch grouping.
With the luxury watch market picking up this year, a total of 181 - more than the 175 in 2016 - watches will be competing in the 12 categories. The Men's section draws the biggest number of competitors this year - 29; the Calendar watch grouping has the smallest number - six.
Last year, the largest number - 24 - of competing timepieces was in the Ladies' category; the smallest - seven - was in Ladies' Mechanical.
Among the well-known watch brands participating are Audemars Piguet, Bulgari, Chopard, Franck Muller, Hublot, Piaget, TAG Heuer, A Lange & Sohne and Tudor. The lesser known include ArtyA, AkriviA, Fiona Kruger, Lornet, Time Spirit, Mauron Musy, ZRC, Beijing and Memorigin.
Here's a sample of the competing watches:
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Frosted Gold
Its defining feature is the watch's shimmering sparkle, thanks to the Florentine technique which is a surface treatment process rooted in an ancient gold hammering technique. Florentine jewellery designer Carolina Bucci has reinterpreted the technique in jewellery design today while AP's experts developed it into a horological craft suited to the unique case and bracelet construction of the Royal Oak.
In its short five-year history, the brand has already proven its mastery in making tourbillon timepieces of the highest standard. AK-06 is its first non-tourbillon creation. Apart from being a showcase of AkriviA's extreme high-quality finishing, the watch is a new interpretation of a power reserve timepiece that enhances the feeling of intimacy in the act of winding a watch up. AK-06's movement also features a combined stop seconds and seconds reset functionality- a combination that results in a very rare mini-complication that's rarely found in wristwatches today.
Zenith Defy El Primero 21
The brand is the acknowledged champion of high-frequency chronographs, thanks to its fabled El Primero movement. With Defy El Primero 21, a new 100th of a second chronograph movement, Zenith shifts up to ultra-high accuracy.
Tourbillon and Escapement Watch
TAG Heuer Carrera H02T Connected Modular 45 Luxury Kit
TAG Heuer has applied its expertise in manufacturing to produce the cheapest Swiss-made tourbillon in the market. It has now connected the Heuer 02T tourbillon to a smartwatch, the Connected Modular 45. The brand says it has scored "a significant innovation" by engineering a H02T mechanical module to be compatible with "the watch modularity innovation of the connected module".
Greubel Forsey QP a Equation
The unusual feature of this perpetual calendar watch is the inclusion of an equation of time. But what's more important is the innovation that lies at the heart of QP a Equation - a "mechanical computer" which is "an entirely integrated 25-part component that brings a totally new interpretation to some of the calendar functions incorporated in age-old astronomical clocks".
Travel Time Watch
Hublot Big Bang Unico GMT
This timepiece is equipped with a Hublot in-house movement with a patented proprietary module which enables the second time zone to be updated instantly by a push button, allowing the local time to be read easily via the conventional main hand of the watch.
Mechanical Exception Watch
Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600
Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication has 23 complications, mostly relating to astronomy, making it the world's most complicated for a wrist watch.
Montblanc Summit Smartwatch Black Steel
It has the look of a classical mechanical timepiece but functions like a high-tech smartwatch that it is. Other than standard information such as notification content for emails or messages, the Montblanc smartwatch also offers micro apps such as fitness tracker and world time.