The love of Jean Arnault, head of Louis Vuitton watches, for independent watchmaking is not a secret anymore. In addition to revamping entirely the brand’s collection with a new Tambour watch, the man is behind a great initiative for the indie watch scene, the Louis Vuitton Watch Prize for Independent Creatives, as well as relaunching important brands, Daniel Roth and Gérald Genta. And it doesn’t stop here, as today LV announces teaming with no other than acclaimed independent watchmaker Rexhep Rexhepi, founder of Atelier Akrivia, releasing the LVRR-01 Chronographe à Sonnerie, the first watch of a series of high-end collaborative timepieces between the French luxury powerhouse and renowned boutique watchmakers.
On one side is the largest luxury brand in the world, a Maison founded more than 150 years ago and capable of crafting approximately everything that can worn by women and men… a true powerhouse that could feel entirely disconnected from the reality of craftsmanship and from what matters most; the human hand. But, in fact, it isn’t. Not only LV has long demonstrated bringing its employees to the forefront, but today’s announcement shows once more the importance of people behind true high-end products. Because on the other is a list of craftsmen; Rexhep Rexhepi of Akrivia of course, as well as his team, but also Jean-Pierre Hagmann, a renowned case-maker working with Rexhepi, and Nicolas Doublel, the in-house enameller at La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton. At first sight, a clash of cultures… But the love of Jean Arnault for independent watchmaking seems to be stronger…
What are we talking about exactly? Besides the obvious, the collaboration between Louis Vuitton and Akrivia (which results in a new AKRILVIA moniker – and this is the first time that Louis Vuitton has combined its logo with that of another brand), there’s a watch. And quite a watch, as the LVRR-01 is a combination of a redefined Tambour case with two faces made by JPH, two dials, and a new precision chronometer movement developed from the ground up by Atelier Akrivia and its founder Rexhep Rexhepi, incorporating a chronograph, a tourbillon and an unprecedented chiming complication connected to the measurement of elapsed times.
A brand new, complex and true H.H. movement
Let’s decipher that movement. First, we’re talking about a wholly new movement developed entirely by Rexhep Rexhepi of Akrivia – La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton was not involved in the creation of this watch. As you’d expect from the man, this engine is traditional in its conception as well as in its decoration – something that has always been the case with Rexhep’s watches. This doesn’t mean that there are no clever solutions but don’t expect 21st-century materials here.
The Louis Vuitton x Akrivia LVRR-01 is a double-faced watch with the LVRR-01 calibre that has been inverted, the chronograph and chiming mechanisms being visible on the front instead of on the back, thus to be admired on the wrist thanks to the tinted sapphire dial, bringing the hand-made decoration under the spotlights. Starting with the 6 o’clock position, we have a tourbillon classically positioned, but not traditional in its specs. It is a 5-minute tourbillon, as an ode to 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.
Then is the unusual combination of complications; chronograph and sonnerie. Sure, it isn’t the first time that these two functions are housed in a single watch, but here they work in conjunction, and not separately. The chronograph is a monopusher – the 2 o’clock pusher performing the start, stop, and reset. It comes together with an acoustic function, a reminder of the measurement of elapsed times. Indeed, a single chime struck as each minute passes, sounded by a black-polished steel hammer striking a tempered steel gong. This chronograph thus displays and sounds the passing of measured elapsed times. Why…? Because the chronograph dial is actually located on the back, so even when you have the watch on the wrist you’ll know that a minute has passed.
The movement relies on a twin-barrel architecture, as often with sonnerie watches. One power source is devoted to the timekeeping portion of the movement and the chronograph. The other powers the chiming function, however in an unusual way. Rexhep Rexhepi has devised a construction in which the second barrel is linked to the gear train in a particular way. Once the chronograph is activated and the central mobile is released by the hammer, the rotation from the second barrel is no longer blocked. Energy is thus supplied to the base gear when the chronograph and striking mechanism are running, ensuring that the complications have sufficient energy to function properly without disturbing the movement. Visible through the dial, one can see the sonnerie mechanism as well as the second barrel linked to a secondary escapement featuring jewelled pallets. This escapement releases the energy of the second barrel cyclically, ensuring the sonnerie strikes precisely and regularly.
As you’d expect, the movement of the Louis Vuitton x Akrivia LVRR-01 is impeccable in its finishing, with traditional decoration techniques applied on all parts. The other side of the watch, on the contrary, is all about discretion.
Louis Cruises with Rexhep
What makes this AKRILVIA a Louis Vuitton is the case, which is shaped like it should be, meaning a Tambour. But this platinum case isn’t your usual Tambour, as it’s been hand-made by Jean-Pierre Hagmann, but also reinterpreted with a streamlined form distinguished by a tall, sloping bezel and elegantly sculpted, long and sloping lugs. And surprisingly it comes with compact dimensions of 39.9mm with a thickness just above 12mm. The crown and chronograph pusher have a seven-sided form inspired by the Louis Vuitton watches. Their finishing is impressive, as they are chamfered on the edges and decorated with hand-hammering, a technique dear to Rexhep Rexhepi, seen in multiple early Akrivia watches.
The back reveals discreet touches, such as the classic JPH hallmark the lower-right lug – the case maker’s personal seal of quality – and the hand-engraved “Louis cruises with Rexhep” as a reminder of this rather unique shared venture. The case is complemented by a Louis Vuitton strap of natural cowhide leather, which will slowly gain patina, and closed by a platinum pin buckle made and signed by JPH.
The Two-faced LVRR-01 watch
The Louis Vuitton x Akrivia LVRR-01 Chronographe à Sonnerie further emphasises the concept of collaborative creation with two dials – one typical of Rexhep Rexhepi’s production and meant to be used off-the-wrist, one that is inspired by LV’s design codes to be seen when the watch is worn.
The first is the expression of Rexhep’s language and is a closed white grand feu enamel dial, resolutely classic and discreet, seen on the back of the watch. Designed by Rexhepi and crafted by Nicolas Doublel, the in-house enameller at La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton, it brings a clear 19th-century chronograph pocket watch vibe. The white gold disc is made by Atelier Akrivia with the enamel later applied by Doublel. It features scales for the hours and minutes respectively, both printed in enamel. The design is actually also paying tribute to the first-ever wristwatch made by Louis Vuitton in 1988, the Monterey (a watch that Jean Arnault particularly appreciates).
The other side, which reveals the movement through a sapphire dial, is far more contemporary and reflects LV codes. Modern, mirroring the contemporary aspect of Louis Vuitton, the tinted sapphire disc features a gilt-metallised minute track that brings to mind the Rexhep Rexhepi Chronomètre Contemporain (RRCC I and RRCC II). The unusual shape also integrates six gold cubes filled with translucent fired enamel (plique-à-jour technique), a nod to the Spin Time jumping-hours display.
Availability & Price
The Louis Vuitton x Atelier Akrivia LVRR-01 Chronographe à Sonnerie is delivered in a traditional Louis Vuitton trunk, painted by hand with a motif inspired by the chronograph scales on the enamel dial, along with the “AKRILVIA” logo and individual serial number of the respective watch. Also, the trunk integrates the signature Rexhep Rexhepi, Jean-Pierre Hagmann, and Nicolas Doublel.
The price, as you’d expect, is exclusive at CHF 450,000 (excl. taxes) or EUR 540,000 (incl. French taxes). The watch is limited to 10 pieces only. Proceeds of the sale, at least on the side of LV, will go toward the Louis Vuitton Watch Prize. For more details, please visit www.akrivia.com and louisvuitton.com.