While most of the watches to be auctioned at Only Watch 2023 have already been released, there were a few left to be discovered… And, in all fairness, some of the most expected ones. Patek Philippe, MB&F x Moser for instance, and there was something to expect from Rexhep Rexhepi’s Akrivia too. The man has long been using the charity to auction to tease his future releases, such as the 2021 Chronomètre Contemporain RRCC II first presented as a unique piece for OW. Now, all we can hope for is a recurring pattern, because the Only Watch 2023 Rexhep Rexhepi Chronomètre Antimagnétique has just been presented. And it looks quite stunning.
Following the Chronomètre Contemporain I (RRCC I) and Chronomètre Contemporain II (RRCC II), it is now time for a third installment in the brand’s classic collection, a range known as the Rexhep Rexhepi. Named after the founder of Akrivia, this collection is intended as more classic, more elegant and comes with vintage touches all around. The new Chronomètre Antimagnétique makes no exception to the rule and pays tribute to glorious antimagnetic watches made in mid-century days – mostly from Patek Philippe. A time-only watch, which certainly looks familiar next to the two RRCC, the new RRCA is bringing a combination of scientific design elements, an elegant case with a faraday cage and a new movement that has been designed for this collection – hence why it is hard to believe this would remain a unique piece.
Design-wise, the new RRCA or Rexhep Rexhepi Chronomètre Antimagnétique for Only Watch 2023 is typical of the brand’s production. Its case, which is made internally by talented case-maker Jean-Pierre Hagmann (who has his atelier now integrated next to Akrivia’s manufacture), is made of stainless steel with a combination of polished finish and brushed surfaces. The step bezel is, on the other hand, new to this watch and more angular than what was found in the RRCC II, with its curved bezel. As a scientific watch, the RRCA is meant to be a bit more purposeful, a bit more on the instrumental side of things. It measures a compact 38mm diameter with a height of 9.90mm, excluding the crystals. This thicker profile is the result of the Antimagnétique part of the watch.
First, the caseback, which features a small lightning (a reminder of the antimagnetic properties), is actually an outer screw-down back that can be removed by the wearer to reveal a second, sapphire back underneath. This construction protects the movement from magnetism, while allowing the beauty of the movement to be admired. Within the stainless steel case is a Faraday cage formed by a movement ring and dial made of ferritic stainless steel.
The dial, which is once again made from grand feu enamel, is directly inspired by scientific watches of the 1940s-50s, with a graphic sector design modeled after historical chronometers. The glossy, deep black base is home to alternating blocks along the hour scale, an abstract representation of the opposite polarities of a magnetic field. The hands, with a novel design and a step on the minutes, are solid gold with a polished stainless steel boss. For the dial’s markings, these are first engraved on the solid silver base and then filled with gold enamel and fired in an oven, permanently fusing the enamel to the dial to create indelible, fade-resistant markings.
But, as always with Rexhep Rexhepi, the Chronomètre Antimagnétique Only Watch 2023 is more than just a beautiful watch. The movement is something that also needs to be explained, and admired. The RRCA should not be seen as just an antimagnetic version of the RRCC. Instead, it is equipped with an all-new movement developed from scratch in the brand’s atelier in Geneva’s Old Town. First of all, compared to the RRCC, the balance wheel is now centrally positioned at 6 o’clock, with the excitement off-centred. The gear train, positioned on the right side, culminates in a gear positioned at the centre of the movement that performs one revolution per minute, thus driving the seconds hand. The latter is equipped with a a zero-reset function for the instant return of the seconds hand to 12 o’clock as soon as the crown is pulled out to set the time. The function is performed by a heart-shaped cam is visible just above the gear, working in a similar manner as the reset cam in a chronograph. This also stops the balance wheel. This hand would RRCA movement is manually would and stores 72 hours of power reserve from a single barrel.
The decoration, as you would expect, is flawless. The seconds reset hammer, for example, is crafted in stainless steel (a first for Rexhep) and then black polished to a perfect mirror finish. So does the black-polished bridge for the central wheel that drives the seconds hand, with bercé (domed) finish. The bridges and plates, and even hidden parts, are all decorated to a haute horlogerie level, with large anglages, superb stripes and bevelled wheel spokes (to name a few). The movement is also pleasingly symmetrical.
The Rexhep Rexhepi Chronomètre Antimagnétique Only Watch 2023 is a piece unique to be auctioned on November 5th, 2023. It carries an estimate of CHF 100,000 – 150,000 (but seeing the past results of Rexhep Rexhepi at auction, we can expect the final bid to be much higher…) Besides this specific, unique example, we’re of course curious to see the standard version of the RRCA soon presented. For more details, please visit www.akrivia.com.
Created in 2005, Only Watch is a biennial fundraiser for research on muscular dystrophy – Association Monégasque Contre les Myopathies (AMM). Organized under the patronage of HSH Albert II de Monaco, the watches of the 10th edition will be auctioned by Christie’s on Saturday, 5 November 2023 in Geneva at Palexpo. More details at www.onlywatch.com.