One of the newest and most exciting names on the independent watchmaking scene just scooped a gong at the GPHG
Largely speaking, the face of independent watchmaking is an older one. Close your eyes and think of the leviathans of the indie scene, and your mind will almost certainly flick to a George Daniels, a Philippe Dufour, or maybe a Stephen Forsey. As it should. Great minds, great watchmakers, great men. But as a rule, the leading lights of independent watchmaking are not in the first flushes of youth.
This is why Rexhep Rexhepi and his nascent watch company AkriviA are attracting so much attention. Still in command of all his follicles (he’s only 31), Rexhep is viewed within the cosy confines of the independent sector as its future.
Originally from Kosovo (he left in 1998), his name is pronounced Re-jep, the ‘xh’ combination sounding a ‘j’ – as in ‘jewel’ – in the Kosovan language. Having worked at some of Geneva’s most prestigious watch companies – he trained at Patek Philippe before working for it, and then moved to F.P. Journe – he founded AkriviA (Greek for ‘precision’) in 2012. He’s now making a name for himself creating low-volume pieces built by his small pool of five watchmakers from the ground up, each featuring one of his signature symmetrical movements.
‘I would like to have my own identity,’ he says, pushed on the motivation for pursuing symmetry.
“It’s a question of taste. I just like to build my movements in this way. It’s also an additional constraint – it can take up to two years longer to build a symmetrical movement.”
Call it suffering for his art – certainly AkriviA’s calibres are artistic and technical tours de force. The latest of the six he’s created to date is RR-01, the mechanism behind a new family of pieces carrying his name that he launched earlier this year. The headline piece is the Rexhep Rexhepi Chronomètre Contemporain, which scooped the Men’s Watch prize at the 2018 edition of the prestigious Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève awards. As a sign of how highly the judges considered it, it beat off stiff competition from the likes of H Moser & Cie, De Bethune and the venerable Vacheron Constantin.
He and his team make everything that goes into AkriviA watches, bar the spirals, mainsprings and rubies. So far, he has two designs, the classic, formal AkriviA and the more contemporary Rexhep Rexhepi. Cases are in steel, titanium, rose gold or platinum, pushing the pricing spectrum for his pieces up from CHF55,000 to CHF280,000. To date, he’s produced just over 50 watches, but since moving to a new workshop in Geneva late in 2017, he believes he can sustain production of 30 pieces a year.
Collectors are keeping a close eye. Getting their hands on an AkriviA might be a little more taxing, though – Rexhep says his order book stretches to another 50 watches and that it’ll take him two years to deliver them. Might well be worth the wait…