AkriviA’s Chronomètre Contemporain Awarded the GPHG’s Men’s Prize
Baselworld essentially contains buildings within a building, the booths are that big. After running from one multi-level booth to another, you start to think you’re pretty clever. So instead of consulting the map, you rely on your gut and look out for the glowing logo in the distance. Upstairs this doesn’t work so well when trying to find the smaller independent watch brands. I shot past AkriviA twice, both times missing the nondescript door out the front of their modestly sized booth.
If there’s an index measuring booth size relative to industry buzz, AkriviA would be very close to if not at the top. This was only further emphasised on Friday when AkriviA’s contending watch, the Chronomètre Contemporain, took home the Men’s watch category prize at the 18th edition of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève.
Back at Basel. Just moments after taking a seat at the table, Rexhep offered up something to drink. Not long after he was passing around his Pièce Ecole (school pocket watch and proof of his apprenticeship at Patek Philippe). Sitting around the table were a small group of watch geeks drinking and eating a diverse array of food, all of which appeared to have come from a vending machine (welcome to Baselworld). No one was talking business, it was just watches. It was one of the most genuine experiences I had at Baselworld and gave an indelible insight into the passion these guys have for independent watchmaking.
Even before the buzz surrounding the Chronomètre Contemporain Rexhep Rexhepi was quite well known within the industry. After all, he started his apprenticeship at Patek Philippe when he was 14, worked for François-Paul Journe (where he was promoted to work on the Resonance) and was recognised by Finnish master watchmaker Kari Voutilainen as one of the most promising young watchmakers of our time. Off to a pretty incredible start.
At AkriviA his watches were more known for their futuristic aesthetic. The majority of which featured beautifully decorated symmetrical movements. Something that is both uncommon and difficult to achieve; and is likely one of the many enduring influences of François-Paul Journe.
Since unveiling the Chronomètre Contemporain at Baselworld, it has become one of the most talked about and now celebrated watches of the year. Named after the ancient Greek word for precision (ακρίβεια), the six-year-old manufacture has been putting ‘AkriviA’ on their dials up until this year. The Chronomètre Contemporain changes all of that.
Initially conceived at the suggestion of Michael Tay, the Chronomètre Contemporain is the first timepiece with ‘Rexhep Rexhepi’ printed on the dial, in lieu of ‘AkriviA’. So why the wait? Well, it’s due in part to the modesty of Rexhep to forego using his name earlier, secondly and perhaps most importantly this decision has enabled the Chronomètre Contemporain to stand apart from the far more futuristic aesthetic of AkriviA timepieces. It is after all inspired by officers’ watches from the 1940’s, watches that stood for accuracy and legibility.
The watches were unveiled in rose gold with a black dial and platinum with a white dial. Both have grand feu dials – also known as fired enamel, a process that involves firing powdered enamel to a metallic base. There’s a noticeable Art Deco aesthetic to the sector dial layout. Roman numeral hour markers (at 2, 4, 8, 10, 12) are framed by alternating half windows connected around the periphery of the dial. Case lugs are curved and elongated, reminiscent of those found on Emile Vichet Patek Philippe watches from the 1950’s. And have been hand-soldered to the 38 mm case in order to highlight its expertly finished design (featuring alternating surfaces that have been brushed and polished by hand).
In terms of accuracy, the Contemporain remains faithful not only to its inspiration but also to its name. It’s precise. As the whole concept of the movement is dedicated to the efficiency and precision of chronometric timekeeping. Inside ticks the manually wound calibre RR-01 (RR standing for Rexhep Rexhepi), a time only movement that boasts an impressive 100 hours of power-reserve – despite only having a single barrel – and also features a stop seconds and zero-reset mechanism to allow a precise time setting. As soon as the crown is pulled out to the time setting position, the mechanism implanted stops the balance and instantly returns the second hand to zero. The Chronomètre Contemporain is officially certified by the Besançon Chronometer Observatory.