Louis Vuitton has announced the shortlist for its first-ever Watch Prize for Independent Creatives. After whittling down submissions from almost 1,000 applicants, the French luxury fashion house has revealed the final five candidates who will present their timepiece projects to a jury in February.
Established to shine a light on the most promising independent voices in the watch industry, Louis Vuitton’s inaugural Watch Prize is generating quite a buzz. A committee of experts comprising 45 watch enthusiasts gathered to evaluate projects from the 20 semi-finalists, with a criteria spanning design, creativity, innovation, craftsmanship and technical complexity.
“The Louis Vuitton Watch Prize exists because we believe that the future of watchmaking belongs to the dreamers and rule-breakers who meet the highest standards of craftsmanship,” commented Jean Arnault, director of watches at Louis Vuitton. “I would like to congratulate our five finalists – in your hands, the horizon for independent watchmaking is looking very bright indeed.”
On February 6, 2024, the finalists will present their projects at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris to five jury members – including preeminent watch collector Auro Montanari and founder of Atelier Akrivia Rexhep Rexhepi – before the winner is announced at a celebration ceremony. The watchmaker that takes first prize will receive a year-long mentorship with Louis Vuitton’s team of experts at the Maison’s watchmaking factory, Le Fabrique du Temps, in Geneva.
Below, we take a look at the contenders.
Gaël Petermann et Florian Bédat (independent watchmakers since 2017)
Petermann and Bedat’s Chronographe Rattrapante (pictured above) takes inspiration from the pocketwatch, effortlessly blending classic and contemporary details. Reference 2941 is a monopusher split-seconds chronograph with a platinum case and jumping minute counter. “The prize gives independent watchmakers a chance to surpass themselves and showcase a unique savoir-faire,” noted the duo.
Simon Brette (independent watchmaker since 2022)
Brette’s hotly anticipated first watch, Chronometre Artisans, features a manual-wind mechanical movement and visible gear chain. “What makes me most proud is to have brought together and coordinated the work of exceptional French and Swiss craftsmen,” he revealed.
John-Mikaël Flaux (independent watchmaker since 2018)
Flaux’s silver and gold l’abeille mecanique (mechanical bee) is a unique figurative mechanism with manual winding, carousel movement and a ‘stinger’ poetics hours indicator. “What immediately appealed to me about this initiative was the recognition it offers to the world of independent watchmakers, and the trust it places in us,” he said.
Andreas Strehler & Enrico Santoni (independent watchmakers since 1995)
Strehler and Santoni’s mechanical perpetual desk calendar, the Tischkalendar Sympathique, is crafted with gilded brass and lapis lazuli. It features a ‘master timekeeper’ pocket watch in damascus steel with sapphire crystal. “The inspiration came from the present and the past,” explained the duo. “With mechanical solutions, it is possible to create new needs.”
Raúl Pagès (independent watchmaker since 2012)
Finally, Pages’s pared-back RP1 – Regulateur is a manual-winding wristwatch made from stainless steel, featuring an in-house caliber fitted with a pivoted detent escapement. “Independent watchmakers must be spearheads of creativity and defenders of craftsmanship,” he shared.
[See also: MB&F Unveils Striking New HM11 Architect Watch]