Patek Philippe, Cartier take year-end watch honors

The end of the year annually heralds a round of prizes in the Swiss watch industry for leading luxury watches. Here are some of the winners:

* Luxury watchmaker Patek Philippe has won the L’Aiguille d’Or, the top prize in the 2003 Grand Prix d’Horologerie de Geneve, for its 10 Jours Tourbillon, a wrist chronometer with a 10-day power reserve and a tourbillon rotating around its own axis in one minute, visible through a transparent back.

The annual Grand Prix d’Horlogerie event honors achievements in 10 categories by Swiss luxury watchmakers, most of whom are located in or near Geneva, the traditional center of Swiss watchmaking.

This year’s sold-out high-profile gala drew some 1,500 guests, most from Europe but some from as far away as Japan. Another 700 would-be attendees had to be turned away. The televised event was held Nov. 20 in Geneva, co-hosted by Carol Lamprecht, Geneva’s minister of economics, and Patrice Mugny, Geneva’s minister of culture.

The winning timepieces were chosen by thousands of votes cast online in early November by the public, at a Geneva exposition, and by a jury of industry officials.

In addition to Patek Philippe, other winners included:

Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Master Antoine LeCoultre timepiece (Jury Prize); Cartier’s Tank S (Lady’s Watch); F.P. Journe’s Octa Luna (Men’s Watch); Franck Muller’s Crazy Hours Homme (Watch Design); Piaget’s Altiplano XL (Ultra Flat Watch); Harry Winston’s Opus 3 (Technical Innovation and Complications); Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak Offshore Alinghi, 2003 Commemorative Edition (Sports Watch); Breguet’s Le Reveil du Tsar (Public Prize); and Chopard’s Happy Sprite (Middle East Public Prize).

* A women’s quartz watch has been named “Watch of the Year” by the Swiss watch magazines Montres Passion and Uhnrenwelt, the first time this has happened in the award’s history. Since its creation in 1994, the prize has been “a bastion of the men’s mechanical watch,” notes a report by the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry.

The award went to Cartier’s Déclaration wristwatch, with the panel of industry judges citing its “considerable technical and aesthetic qualities.” Based on an Art Deco design, the design stylishly combines an elegant women’s watch with a dozen loose diamond ringlets. The trophy was awarded Nov. 12 in Lausanne, Switzerland, to Horst Edenhofer, managing director of Cartier Suisse.

Second prize went to the Magellan (by the same-named Swiss company), which features a half-sphere under a bell cover. Third prize was awarded to Vacheron Constantin for the company’s Toledo 1952.

* The 2003 Jury prize (based on some 10,000 votes from readers of the Swiss publications L’Hebdo and Cash) went to Breguet’s Classique, an automatic timepiece with retrograde small seconds, a power reserve of 65 hours, and a hand-crafted engine-turned dial.

* The Internet Prize went to the Royal Oak Offshore T3 from Audemars Piguet, developed with Arnold Schwarzenegger for the film, Terminator 3.