Inside the Jean-Pierre Hagmann-Akrivia Case Workshop

The past and future joining forces.

A master case maker who retired in 2017, Jean-Pierre Hagmann is back in action, as a partner in Akrivia’s case-making workshop in Geneva. Now 78 years old, Mr Hagmann struck out on his own in 1984, starting a stellar career that would see him become a case maker for most of Switzerland’s best watchmakers. (For a detailed profile of Mr Hagmann, see my 2016 story.)

His client list included establishment names like Audemars Piguet, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Vacheron Constantin, and of course, Patek Philippe, where he produced highly-regarded cases for its minute repeaters. In fact, Mr Hagmann was also responsible for the impressively complex case of the Star Calibre 2000, the uber-pocket watch Patek Philippe introduced to mark the new millennium.

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Mr Hagmann at work in the 1980s

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The Patek Philippe ref. 5029 minute repeater, which had a Hagmann case

In the first half of his career, Mr Hagmann also worked with many of the up-and-coming stars of independent watchmaking of the 1980s and 1990s, including Franck Muller and Roger Dubuis. He produced the very first Cintree Curvex cases for Franck Muller, as well as the early cases for Roger Dubuis.

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Another of Mr Hagmann’s cases: the Franck Muller Cintree Curvex minute repeater with perpetual calendar, circa 1991

Three decades later, Mr Hagmann is back where he began. He’s joined forces with a rising star of independent watchmaking, Akrivia, whose founder, Rexhep Rexhepi, is just 32 years old. Though young, Rexhep grasps the importance of vertical integration, especially for a small-scale, high-end independent watchmaker; that is something that Kari Voutilainen has smartly accomplished by buying both dial and case makers, Comblemine and Voutilainen &  Cattin respectively.

The Akrivia case-making workshop was set up barely a month ago, but Mr Hagmann already finished his first project – the platinum case for the one-of-a-kind Chronometre Contemporain for Only Watch 2019 that was completed just earlier this week.

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The view from inside the workshop, with Mr Hagmann’s “JHP” logo on the window

Over the longer term, the goal is to have Mr Hagmann produce all of Akrivia’s cases as well as put together a team capable of making the workshop a long-term enterprise.

According to Rexhep, the ultimate goal is to have at least two case makers on board, who will learn from Mr Hagmann and enable Akrivia to produce all of its watch cases in-house.

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Rexhep Rexhepi and Jean-Pierre Hagmann. Photo – Akrivia

The case-making workshop is just a few doors from Akrivia’s premises in Geneva’s Old Town, a short walk down a cobblestoned street. During a visit to Geneva last week I stopped by for a look; Mr Hagmann was out but Akrivia founder Rexhep Rexhepi showed me the newly set-up workshop.

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Rexhep holding the solid platinum ring that formed the back of the Chronometre Contemporain for Only Watch

Everything inside was fresh and neat as work had yet to begin. But Rexhep pointed out at even after case production starts, everything will remain neat – Mr Hagmann is obsessed with tidiness.

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A bench that would be familiar to a jeweller – the leather sheet below is to catch precious metal shavings, which are then collected and sold back to the metals supplier

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Mr Hagmann and Rexhep. Photo – Akrivia

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With the case for the Only Watch timepiece out of the way, Mr Hagmann will be producing cases for the standard Chronometre Contemporain watches, as well as working together with Rexhep to design cases for future models. Cases for striking watches are a personal favourite of Mr Hagmann, so there just might be something melodious in the pipeline.

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Introducing the Badger Islander Wristwatch

In an unusual tonneau-shaped case.

Badger Watches makes it debut on Kickstarter with the Islander, an automatic wristwatch with an interesting tonneau-shaped case. While most tonneau cases are made up of multiple curved lines, the Islander case is composed of several straight lines and flat surfaces, giving it a slightly 1970s vibe.

The brand is based in Singapore – a city-state that’s an island – which is where the model name comes from. Affordable watches like the Islander usually work best if most of the effort is concentrated on one element; here the focus is undoubtedly the case.

Measuring 38mm in diameter and 48mm long, the case is steel with alternating brushed and polished surfaces. It’s stamped from a block of steel, giving it softer edges and corners than if it were milled, but with a price tag of under US$400 that’s more than enough.

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Four dial colours are available, including one in silver with blue accents that’s a 99-piece limited edition. With only minimal text on the edge, the dials have the same stamped radial motif, along with tapered hands reminiscent of the Marc Newson-designed Ikepod watches. The date window is placed at six o’clock to maintain the symmetry of the dial.

The Islander is powered by a Sellita SW200-1, which is a clone of the ETA 2824. A low-cost but robust movement, the SW200 has a shortish 38-hour power reserve.

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Key facts

Diameter: 38mm
Height: 11mm
Material: Steel
Water resistance: 50m

Movement: SW200-1
Functions: Hours, minutes, and second; date
Winding: Automatic

Frequency: 28,800bph, or 4Hz
Power reserve: 38 hours

Strap: Suede or calfskin

Price and availability

The Islander is priced at US$399 for the duration of the crowdfunding campaign, except for the silver-dial limited edition, which is US$420. The retail price after that will be US$700. It’s available on Kickstarter now.


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