The Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Ultra-Complication Universelle has spectacularly claimed the Aiguille d’Or trophy for Best of Show overnight at the 2023 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG). In a room full of the best watchmakers in the world, the maison’s horological artwork was elevated to masterpiece status, with the judges commending AP for its stellar blend of technical and design elements. The most complicated piece ever produced by the Le Brassus icon, the Code 11.59 Ultra-Complication Universelle is Audemars Piguet‘s magnum opus, complete with a ridiculous 40 functions, including Grande Sonnerie Carillon and a perpetual calendar. The victory ensured that the night firmly belonged to AP, but the 2023 GPHG also delivered a raft of surprises and enough fodder to keep the watch community charged for another 12 months.
GPHG 2023 Recap
Over the course of the event, the 847-member GPHG Academy handed out 19 awards honouring contemporary watchmaking excellence and creativity. The initial shortlist included 90 timepieces from which the jury selected its winners, with some familiar names making starring appearances.
Audemars Piguet on Top
Most notably, the Code 11.59 Ultra-Complication Universelle took home top honours this year and few who saw the masterpiece in the flesh could disagree. AP has squeezed almost everything possible into the ultra-complex watch, loading the remarkably compact 42mm piece with a mind-boggling number of functions and complications. To give you an idea of what an accomplishment that is, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s similarly adorned Hybris Mechanica Grande Sonnerie measures in at 45mm, while the Patek Philippe 6300 Grandmaster Chime is a bulky 47.7mm
The fourth instalment in AP’s research and development series, the Code 11.59 Ultra-Complication Universelle makes use of the Calibre 1000 movement, a buffet of mechanical complexity comprising a whopping 1,140 components. Throw in a flying tourbillon, ultra-thin perpetual calendar mechanism and the same Supersonnerie technology seen in the Royal Oak Concept Acoustic Research RD#1, and you’ve got a piece that covers all bases. In a sense, think of a function – chances are, this watch can do it.
“A big thank you to all the people who put their generosity at the service of watchmaking, both those whose faces we know well and those behind the scenes,” François-Henry Bennahmias, Audemars Piguet chief executive officer, said of the win. “Nothing would be possible without their collective genius and collaboration. After 29 years in the watchmaking business, I’d like to dedicate this victory to the teams, to Ilaria who will succeed me, to Jasmine Audemars and to the founding families who have supported me.”
Swiss high-jewellery watchmaker also Piaget claimed two awards, taking out the Ladies’ Watch Prize for its Hidden Treasures release, alongside the Artistic Crafts Watch Prize for the Altiplano Métiers d’Art – Undulata. Both releases take design cues from early Piaget works with the Undulata meticulously crafted from several layers of wood, straw and leather, before being patiently assembled by hand. The end result is a piece that appears more like a traditional canvas artwork than a contemporary watch face, a feature that was commended by the GPHG jury.
Tudor Claims Sports Watch Honours
Similarly, Tudor capped off its stellar year of releases by claiming the Sports Watch Prize for its much-loved Pelagos 39. Arguably the best-value Tudor on the market, the Pelagos 39 combines the robust construction of the classic dive watch with Tudor’s own Manufacture Calibre MT5400. At 39mm, the streamlined titanium piece turned heads when it was first unveiled and the interest has yet to die down. Months after the dive watch made its way into stores, fans are clamouring to get their hands on the Pelagos 39 and now with another feather in its cap, the interest could swell even further.
Other Notable Winners
Other major award winners on the night included Ulysee Nardin, which nabbed the Iconic Watch Prize for its avant-garde favourite Freak One, and Lauren Ferrier’s Grand Sport Tourbillon Pursuit, which claimed the Tourbillon Watch Prize. In a surprise announcement, Petermann Bédat’s stunning Chronographe rattrapante took out the Chronograph title, ahead of fan favourites like the TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph Glass Box.
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The unique Chronographe rattrapante is best known for its use of two superimposed seconds hands that can “time two events of different lengths simultaneously”. A marvel of modern watchmaking, the Petermann Bédat release features a hand-wound calibre 202 movement that arrives complete with a decorative multi-jewel design and a Breguet-inspired balance wheel.
For all the successes across the night, however, the 2023 GPHG belonged to Audemars Piguet. With so much on offer inside the compact package, it’s little wonder the 2023 GPHG jury was so taken with the Ultra-Complication Universelle. For years, the Academy has favoured ultra-complex pieces and considering the sheer amount of technical ingenuity involved in producing the piece, it’s a justified accolade, to say the least.
2023 GPHG Winners
- “Aiguille d’Or” Grand Prix: Audemars Piguet, Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet Ultra-Complication Universelle RD#4
- Innovation Prize: Hautlence, Sphere Series 1
- Audacity Prize: Maison Alcée, Persée Azur
- Chronometry Prize: Ferdinand Berthoud, Chronomètre FB 3SPC
- “Horological Revelation” Prize: Simon Brette, Chronomètre Artisans
- Ladies’ Watch Prize: Piaget, Hidden Treasures
- Ladies’ Complication Watch Prize: Dior Montres, Grand Soir Automate Etoile de Monsieur Dior
- Men’s Complication Watch Prize: Voutilainen, World Timer
- Iconic Watch Prize: Ulysse Nardin, Freak One
- Tourbillon Watch Prize: Laurent Ferrier, Grand Sport Tourbillon Pursuit
- Calendar and Astronomy Watch Prize: Bovet 1822, Récital 20 Astérium
- Chronograph Watch Prize: Petermann Bédat, Chronographe rattrapante
- Sports Watch Prize: Tudor, Pelagos 39
- Jewellery Watch Prize: Bulgari, Serpenti Cleopatra
- Artistic Crafts Watch Prize: Piaget, Altiplano Métiers d’Art – Undulata
- “Petite Aiguille” Prize: Christopher Ward London, C1 Bel Canto
- Challenge Watch Prize: Raymond Weil, Millésime automatic small seconds
- Mechanical Clock Prize: L’Epée 1839, Time Fast II Chrome
- Special Jury Prize: Svend Andersen and Vincent Calabrese
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