Quill & Pad’s Predictions For The Calendar Category Of The 2015 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève
by Ian Skellern
Welcome to the 2015 edition of Quill & Pad’s early Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) predictions in which we pick our favorites and explain why.
Our panelists are:
Ian Skellern (IS), co-founder and technical director
Joshua Munchow (JM), resident nerd writer
GaryG (GG), resident collector
Note: as a GPHG jury member, Quill & Pad editor-in-chief Elizabeth Doerr is excluded from these predictions.
A Calendar watch as described for entry in this category is a mechanical timepiece that contains at least one calendar and/or astronomical complication such as an annual calendar, a perpetual calendar, an equation of time, a moon phase display, or the like. Additional indications and/or complications are admissible.
Blancpain Villeret Quantième Complet
GG: I hope you’ll forgive me, but with only seven total entrants this year to yield six finalists this category seems to lack the strength of some of the other classifications.
That being said, my reasoning for picking the Blancpain Villeret Quantième Complet as the winner of this category is clear: it has clever under-lug correctors for the indications that can be adjusted with a finger rather than a tool; the calendar indications can be reset at any time during the 24-hour cycle without endangering the movement; and in steel the price seems right at 14,000 Swiss francs.
Complete calendar complications are a Blancpain Villeret line tradition, and this one continues that well.
Quick Facts Blancpain Villeret Quantième Complet
Case: stainless steel, 40 x 10.94 mm
Movement: automatic Caliber 6654 with 72-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, second; complete calendar with day, date, month, moon phase
Price: 14,000 Swiss francs
Ulysse Nardin FreakLab
JM: The calendar category presents some issues for selecting the one most likely to win: a calendar usually indicates the date, day, and month. So choosing here has becomes a pull between fit and desire.
My second runner-up is the Ulysse Nardin FreakLab and the one I love the most for its sheer awesomeness, but it comes in third because it only displays the date as a calendar function. Considering everything else it has going for it, I don’t think it should feel too bad. But lacking a full, annual, or perpetual calendar, it pales in comparison to other worthy calendar timepieces.
GG: It’s a great watch and incorporates some fascinating technical advances like the repositioning of the balance to the center of the watch and the introduction of a new silicon shock absorber.
But is it a great calendar watch? Compared to past winners like the A. Lange & Söhne Terraluna, this one seems more like a great watch with an added date wheel to me, even if that date wheel was difficult to add to this movement . . .
Quick Facts Ulysse Nardin FreakLab
Case: white gold, 45 x 14.2 mm
Movement: automatic Freak Caliber with 168 hours power reserve and one-minute tourbillon with Dual Ulysse escapement as well as UlyChoc shock absorbing system
Functions: hours, minutes; date
Limitation: 99 pieces
Price: 95,000 Swiss francs
Tiffany & Co CT60 Annual Calendar
JM: The Tiffany & Co CT60 Annual Calendar is the obvious number two in this group for me. There are other watches that stand out, but this clean and simple timepiece features the only annual calendar among the finalists (though it does lack a weekday display), which only needs adjustment once a year.
More importantly, it shows a commitment by what many may call a fashion brand to become serious about horological offerings.
IS: I also like the Tiffany & Co CT60 Annual Calendar for the clean legibility of its indications. Using slim hands to display the date around the periphery of dial leaves the center clear for the month subdial, and those bold numerals have plenty of space so they do not feel overpowering.
Quick Facts Tiffany & Co CT60 Annual Calendar
Case: pink gold, 40 x 13 mm
Movement: automatic, caliber not specified
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; annual calendar with date, month
Limitation: 60 pieces
Price: 20,400 Swiss francs
Hermès Slim d’Hermès QP
JM: My pick as the winner goes to none other than the Hermès Slim d’Hermès QP, a decidedly modern and beautiful (would you just look at that typeface, seriously, it’s awesome) watch that features a perpetual calendar, moon phase, and second time zone.
This watch packs a modern punch. It even has a micro rotor for automatic winding and a clever leap year display that follows the month indication on its journey throughout the year.
Horologically speaking, the Slim d’Hermès QP is a stout contender, but design-wise it is a knockout. It is gorgeous and modern in a way that isn’t tied to any one school of thought (I mean, okay, Bauhaus, we get it, you’re minimalist). It definitely deserves to take the top spot, and proves again that Hermès is taking this whole watchmaking thing seriously.
GG: As my third place pick, it is an attractive piece that lives up to its “Slim” name and has nice touches including a second time zone and an aventurine and mother-of-pearl moon phase wheel.
IS: My pick for top calendar watch has to go to the Hermès Slim d’Hermès QP. Not only is it the only perpetual calendar among the pre-selected watches, but it is one of the most legible perpetual calendars on the market. And legibility is often a big issue with perpetual calendars as there are so many indications to fit in the limited real estate available on a watch dial.
The elegant Slim d’Hermès font on the cream-colored dial is a pleasure to look at and makes for a perfect background for the blue moon phase indication. That second time zone is likely to be a very useful bonus for frequent travelers.
For more on this timepiece, please read Introducing Slim d’Hermès: The Elegant New Backbone Of The Hermès Collection
Quick Facts Hermès Slim d’Hermès QP
Case: 39.5 x 9.06 mm, red gold
Movement: automatic Caliber H1950 with Agenhor perpetual calendar module, ultra-flat at 4 mm total height including module; micro rotor; 21,600 vph; very fine finishing
Functions: hours, minutes; perpetual calendar with date and month, GMT/second time zone, day/night indication, moon phases, leap year indication
Price: 32,600 Swiss francs
Claude Meylan Full Calendar
It was a close call for me between the Blancpain Villeret Quantième Complet and the Claude Meylan Full Calendar. The Blancpain scored highly for having the more original calendar complication, but I preferred the Claude Meylan Full Calendar for the legibility of its indications.
My choice here may have been different had I had a chance to look at the Blancpain “in the metal.” While that gray dial may look more sophisticated to some tastes, I will go for legibility in a calendar watch every time.
Quick Facts Claude Meylan Full Calendar
Case: stainless steel, 39 x 11 mm
Movement: automatic, caliber not specified
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; complete calendar with day, date, month, moon phases
Price: 3,250 Swiss francs
Ian: Hermès Slim d’Hermès QP
GaryG: Blancpain Villeret Quantième Complet
Joshua: Hermès Slim d’Hermès
For more information, please visit www.gphg.org/watches/en/grand-prix-dhorlogerie-de-geneve/2015.