[dropcap size=small]T[/dropcap]his year, smart watches get to slug it out with their mechanical counterparts to see who comes out tops in the Grand Prix d’ Horlogerie de Geneve (GPHG), the luxury watch industry’s equivalent of Hollywood’s Academy Awards.

They will compete in the Sport and Petite Aiguille (affordable and excellent) categories, the first time since the organisers announced it would accept entries by smart watches – a reflection of market trends.

The annual event takes place in Geneva in November. However, while 18 watches are taking part in the Petite Aiguille section, only two are smart watches – one from TAG Heuer and one from Montblanc, two of the big brands which have taken smart watches seriously. There are no smart watches vying for the Sports watch title, although there is one in the Tourbillon and Escapement classification.

GPHG 2017 has also expanded the Tourbillon category to include competing timepieces with special escapement, while the Men’s watch groupings include classic timepieces with a digital or retrograde display.

With the luxury watch market picking up, a total of 181 watches – more than the 175 in 2016 – have signed up for this year’s event. Of the 12 categories, the Men’s draws the most competitors – 29; the Calendar watch grouping the smallest number – six.

Last year the largest number – 24 – of competing timepieces was in the Ladies’ category; the smallest – seven – was in Ladies’ Mechanical.

(RELATED: Extremely rare watches going under the hammer in 2017 at Only Watch charity auction, Geneva.)

Among the well-known watch brands participating are Audemars Piguet, Bulgari, Chopard, Franck Muller, Hublot, Piaget, TAG Heuer, A Lange & Sohne and Tudor. The lesser known include ArtyA, Akrivia, Fiona Kruger, Lornet, Timespirit, Mauron Musy, ZRC, Greco Geneve, Singer and Beijing.

Here are some brands in pole positions.

Story first appeared on The Business Times.