For those of you unfamiliar with the Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG), it is "intended to salute the excellence of worldwide horological production and annually rewards the finest creations and the most important operators in the watchmaking sector."
Since 2011, the GPHG has awarded prizes to the finest watchmakers in the world in 12 different categories. Categories include Best Chronograph, Best Tourbillon, Best Calendar, among others.
This year there are two Chinese brands nominated for their excellent quality and craftsmanship. Hong Kong based Memorigin (read more about Memorigin here) is nominated in two categories while Longio (read more about Longio here) is nominated in another.
If you're unfamiliar with Memorigin, here's a little spoiler: they only make tourbillons. So it's not entirely a surprise that they would be nominated in the GPHD Tourbillon category. The 2016 Stellar Series is an absolutely out of this universe design, and my personal favorite Chinese tourbillon watch this year.
For a full description of the watch, including the design inspiration, the process of customizing the sapphire and creating an entirely new GMT movement, among other things, click over to the Stellar page on the official GPHG website. One feature that I love, which is almost overlooked by everything else happening on this watch, is the floating indices that cast shadows on the mother of pearl dial. The overall shades of blue, black and gold flow together nicely and represent, to me, what the cosmos could be at any given time; blue skies flowing into dark nights littered with moving golden stars. Overall an exceptionally well thought out design.
The second Memorigin watch nominated is in the Artistic Crafts category. Again, for a full description of the watch click here. The watch, part of the Sculpture Series, features the sculptured likeness of Guanyin, as well as the full 260 character Heart Sutra carefully engraved onto the dial in impressive strokes ranging from only 0.03mm to 0.05mm.
The third Chinese watch nominated is also in the Artistic Crafts category. Longio has a history of success with watches of an entirely different sort, namely big bold dive watches. Over the last several years the brand has begun to showcase their softer side with their Art of Time collection, which feature very intricately detailed dials showcasing a variety of traditional Chinese handcraftsmanship techniques.
This particular piece, created to celebrate the Year of the Monkey in the Chinese calendar, features a Straw Mosaic dial. Read a full description here. The process involves thinly slicing straw into pieces as fine as silk, then bleaching, scraping, grinding or hot stamping the pieces to get the preferred texture and color before painstakingly arranging each piece of straw into the final design. It takes the artist more than 120 hours to complete a single dial.