Rexhep Rexhepi, who founded his independent brand Akrivia in 2012 in Geneva, is widely hailed as the next leader of a new wave of independent watchmakers, an imaginary crown the 36-year-old Kosovo-born old soul wears with unpretentious dignity.
His much-lauded Chronomètre Contemporain came along in 2018 as the first timepiece of an eponymous sub-brand, making the humble watchmaker a household name in luxury watchmaking circles. Rexhepi donated a unique variation of it to the 2019 Only Watch auction, the biennial charity sale that is a clear highlight of the watch calendar, where it ended up becoming the breakout superstar, hammering as the fourth most expensive lot. At Only Watch 2021, the successor model, Chronomètre Contemporain II Only Watch with an entirely new movement, was the sixth-highest performer among a sea of traditional and famous brand donations.
For Only Watch 2023, Rexhepi is donating another entirely new addition to the line powered by yet another new hand-wound movement, the Chronomètre Antimagnétique, which reflects his love of precision timekeeping—in this case by using a Faraday cage to protect the perfectly hand-finished movement from the effects of magnetism in a tribute to both historical chronometers and modern life. The symmetrical movement of Rexhepi’s own design and manufacture includes indirectly driven, zero-resetting central seconds controlled by an all-or-nothing system (which means the ultra-precise second hand stops when the crown is pulled out and returns to zero in one crisp motion for precise time-setting). Certain components of this assembly have been crafted in stainless steel, a first for Rexhepi as it is a metal that is much more challenging to finish in his fastidious manner. The escapement’s pallet lever, on the other hand, is unusually crafted in 14-karat gold, a nod to historical chronometers.
Housed in a handmade stainless-steel 38 x 9.9 mm case, it is only one of a handful in this metal to emerge from Jean-Pierre Hagmann’s workshop—an atelier more than 60 years old—which is now owned by Rexhepi. The caseback has a secret, though: the screw-down caseback can be removed by the wearer using a special key to reveal a sapphire crystal underneath. This double construction further protects the movement from magnetism, while allowing the beauty of it to be admired at will. The solid silver dial with gold enamel—inspired by historical chronometers’ scientific dials and protected by a clear varnish to prevent oxidation—boasts a design that is a symbolic representation of the opposite polarities of a magnetic field. The solid gold hands for hours, minutes, and seconds are, naturally, all made by hand.
Whoever puts in the winning bid for this timepiece at the much-anticipated Only Watch auction will have indeed acquired a piece of modern treasure with particular futureproof value.