By Rebecca Doulton in Madrid
It was the grand gala event for the stars of the watch world as contestants waited with bated movements to see who would win the coveted prize in 16 different categories - not including the prize awarded by the public. The Swatch Group's brands accrued the most prizes -four in total - marked by a decisive return to classical watchmaking and its more traditional, purist offerings.
The grand prize, known as the Aiguille d'Or - or golden hand - went to Breguet's Classique Chronométrie. With its handsome, classically styled dial and relatively straightforward functions, there was nothing at all classical or old school about the movement: inside the 41mm rose gold case is a state-of-the-art magnetic pivot that harnesses the power of polar opposites to improve the watch's chronometric performance.
The results of the evening confirm a long-awaited return to an age of order and neoclassical values after the wild excesses of the recent past. The following four categories illustrate the point to perfection: Danish watchmaker Urban Jürgensen & Sonner took the Men's Prize with its exquisite Central Seconds watch; the Chronograph prize was swept up by De Bethune's DB29 Maxichrono Tourbillon; Grönefeld's Parallax Tourbillon took the Tourbillon Prize; and the Calendar Watch Prize went to A. Lange & Söhne's Richard Lange Perpetual Calendar Terraluna.
Blancpain's off-centred hour watch, a delightfully feminine watch with a lovely mother-of-pearl dial and swirling diamonds won the Ladies' Watch prize. The Public Prize was for the ladies' Breguet Classique Dame in white gold with a sprinkling of diamonds, in an otherwise traditional and very classical-looking watch.
As predicted, Christophe Claret's whimsical Margot with its game of romantic roulette won the Ladies' High Mechanical prize, while Bulgari's opulent Diva watch, dressed from head to toe in diamonds and emeralds secured the High Jewellery award .
Independent watchmakers also took home some well-deserved prizes like Kari Voutilainen whose Hisui watch won the Artistic Crafts category with its beautifully lacquered dial and bridges.
Two iconic chronographs of the 20th century - Omega's Moonwatch and Zenith's El Primero - slightly reinterpreted for this century, were also awarded prizes at the event. Omega took home the Revival Watch prize with its Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon, while the Sports Prize went to Zenith's El Primero Lightweight chronograph. Other contestants from as far afield as Japan did not go home empty-handed; Seiko's Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 GMT secured the Petite Aiguille (little hand) prize which was awarded to watches under CHF 8,000.
Hublot chimed and charmed the jury with its Classic Fusion Cathedral Tourbillon Minute Repeater for the Striking Watch prize and Urwerk's futuristic looking creature, the EMC, won in two different categories: Mechanical Exception and Innovation.
Although watch parties might seem to be the antithesis of fun, we know for sure that the Swatch Group winners had the time of their lives.