After redesigning the Tambour watch this year, Louis Vuitton’s Watch Director, Jean Arnault, seems to be a man on a mission. Teaming up with acclaimed independent watchmaker Rexhep Rexhepi, founder of Atelier Akrivia, the brand has just released the LVRR-01 Chronographe à Sonnerie. This is the first watch of a series of high-end timepieces, born of collaborations between the French luxury powerhouse and well-known boutique watchmakers, following the announcement of the Louis Vuitton Watch Prize for Independent Creatives early this year.
It all started centuries ago where pocket watches were considered as the pinnacle of timepieces. Then came complications like calendars, automatons, decorations - and double sided displays. The world knows Rexhep courtesy of watches like the Chronomètre Contemporaine and because of his bold designs through Akrivia. This is the first time Rexhep Rexhepi, established in 2012, has collaborated with another player in the watchmaking industry.
Developed in-house by Rexhepi, the LVRR-01 manual-winding calibre positions the chronograph and the chiming mechanisms on the dial side, visible through a tinted sapphire dial. Here, the elapsed time can be measured with the striking mechanism — this was common in pocket watches of yore, but it appears for the first time in a wristwatch. A single chime is struck for every minute, operated by a polished steel hammer striking a tempered steel gong in one harmonious note. Clear and musical in tone, the mechanism, developed at Atelier Akrivia, emits a single harmonious note to signify the passage of 60 seconds.
The movement is incorporated with two barrels, one to provide energy for timekeeping and the chronograph, and another for the chiming function, offering a 72-hour power reserve. The independent timepiece maker has linked the second barrel to the gear train so that its rotation is not blocked when the chronograph is activated. This ensures that there is sufficient power to operate all the complications without affecting the movement. Meanwhile, the tourbillon at 6 o'clock makes one revolution in five minutes, being faithful to the tourbillon in historical chronometers. Inside the cage is a balance wheel with twin broad arms and eight inertial regulating weights, inspired by those found in marine chronometers.
A rare double-faced wristwatch, the LVRR-01 Chronographe à Sonnerie is adorned on one side with a smoked translucent sapphire dial, embellished with a gilt-metallised minute track that is reminiscent of the Rexhep Rexhepi Chronomètre Contemporain watches, as well as six gold cubes that pay tribute to Louis Vuitton's patented Spin Time jumping hour display. The gold cubes on the front dial are filled with translucent Plique-à-jour-fired enamel. One can also spot on the dial a gold railway minute track and the logo.
The reverse side reveals a white grand feu enamel dial on a palladium-gold base, inspired by 19th-century chronograph pocket watches and crafted by Nicolas Doublel at La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton. The enamel dial, featuring the twin scales for hours and minutes, carries forward the spirit of the first-ever wristwatch made by Louis Vuitton in 1988.
The watch comes in the recently redesigned Tambour case in platinum and measures 39.9 mm in diameter. Akrivia is responsible for its construction, with help from its regular collaborator, casemaker Jean-Pierre Hagmann; his “JHP” signature is discreetly engraved on the lower-right lug.
The drum-shaped case has been reinterpreted with a tall, sloping bezel, and sculpted lugs, adhering to the aesthetics of mid-century wristwatches. It features a crown and a chronograph monopusher at 2 o’clock, performing the start, stop, and reset functions, gets a seven-sided form, and is decorated with hand-hammering and chamfered on the edges.
The LVRR-01 Chronographe à Sonnerie is delivered inside a traditional Louis Vuitton trunk in natural cowhide leather and with a unique platinum pin buckle, made by Hagmann. The Louis Vuitton monogram has been hand-painted. The watch is finished on a natural calfskin leather strap. Made specifically for each example of the LVRR-01, the trunk is painted by hand and sports a motif, inspired by the chronograph scales on the enamel dial, along with the “AKRILVIA” logo and the individual serial number of the respective watch.
As a finishing touch and a tribute to the artisans responsible for creating the LVRR-01, the trunk reproduces the signatures of Rexhep Rexhepi, Jean-Pierre Hagmann, and Nicolas Doublel.