Louis Vuitton has revealed the winner of its inaugural Watch Prize for Independent Creatives at a glamorous cocktail reception in Paris. Swiss watchmaker Raúl Pagès scooped the top spot, with his RP1 – Régulateur à détente: a manual-winding wristwatch in stainless steel featuring a caliber fitted with pivoted detent escapement.
The French fashion label’s first-ever watch prize was launched by Jean Arnault, director of watches at Louis Vuitton, to shine a light on the most promising independent voices in the industry. Almost 1,000 submissions from an international array of designers, artisans and entrepreneurs were whittled down to just five finalists, announced last month.
A committee of watch experts evaluated the submissions using essential criteria spanning design, aesthetics, creativity, technical innovation and complexity. Once the finalists had been chosen, five members of the committee were elected by their peers to choose the winner. Led by jury president Michael Tay, group managing director of The Hour Glass, the panel included revered collector and author Auro Montanari; independent watchmaker and founder of Atelier Akrivia, Rexhep Rexhepi; founder of SJX Watches Jiaxian Su; and movements director at Tag Heuer, Carole Forestier-Kasapi.
Pagès was bestowed with the coveted top prize during a ceremony at the Fondation Louis Vuitton attended by many of the planet’s leading watch experts. The talented watchmaker spent over 15 years restoring horological masterpieces before setting up his own independent business back in 2012 in a small village in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. Each year, he crafts around four watches entirely by hand from the development and design stage right through to manufacturing, assembly and finishes.
Pagès impressed judges with the highly complex, precise design of his RP1 – Régulateur a détente. During the ceremony, he was presented with a silver trophy inspired by the spiral torsion spring found in a balance wheel, engraved with his name.
Alongside the trophy, Pagès was awarded a cash prize of €150,000 together with a one-year mentorship by a dedicated team of watchmakers, engineers and craftsmen at La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton (the Maison’s watchmaking factory in Meyrin, Switzerland).
“Being honored by the jury of the Louis Vuitton Watch Prize for Independent Creatives is the best possible recognition of my work as an independent watchmaker,” said Pagès, following the ceremony where he was crowned winner of the inaugural prize.