Having dropped tantalising clues about his creation for Only Watch 2023 a few weeks ago, Akrivia founder Rexhep Rexhepi has finally taken the covers off the Rexhep Rexhepi Chronomètre Antimagnétique. A unique creation with a brand-new movement, the Chronomètre Antimagnétique (RRCA) is a time-only wristwatch with a steel case, one that was inspired by the magnetism-resistant chronometers of the mid-20th century. Its design has clear roots in vintage watches, while the movement features an indirect centre seconds with a hacking, zero-reset mechanism.
About the half the offerings in Only Watch 2023 are from independent watchmakers, but the creations vary tremendously in their originality and effort. Amongst the independents that created genuinely new watches for the event is F.P. Journe, whose Chronomètre Furtif Bleu is the first of a new sports model and likely the only watch ever made by an independent that boasts a tantalum bracelet. At the low-effort end of the spectrum is Moritz Grossmann that added “Only Watch” to the seconds register of a regular-production model and called it a day.
The RRCA sits alongside the Chronomètre Furtif Bleu as being impressively original. The RRCA has an newly-designed steel case with a removable outer back and within, a calibre that inherits the distinctive Rexhep Rexhepi aesthetic but is newly developed from the ground up.
Even though it is a simple watch with just three hands, the movement is executed in the Mr Rexhepi’s typical style with an elegant and elaborate construction. The indirect seconds, for instance, features a finely constructed zero-reset and hacking mechanism that’s entirely exposed.
The design on the front is equally attractive. Note the subtle details of the case, ranging from the stepped bezel to the chamfered lugs. I like everything about it – except for “Antimagnetique” at six o’clock that feels out of place because of the modern, sans serif font. That said, it might be possible for the eventual owner of this watch to request a second dial with slight design tweaks, especially since he or she will likely pay well past seven figures for the RRCA.
Unsurprisingly, I expect the RRCA and Chronomètre Furtif Bleu to be the most valuable examples of independent watchmaking in Only Watch 2023, with both easily crossing the seven-figure mark. Considering that the regular-production Chronometre Contemporain I sold for over US$900,000 in May, the RRCA will likely go far past seven figures rather than just inch pass.
According to Mr Rexhepi, the RRCA was inspired by the magnetism-resistant chronometers made by Geneva’s great watchmakers in the 1950s, a period of breakthroughs in science and exploration, both of which required precision timekeepers protected against magnetism. Examples include the Rolex Milgauss that was developed with the help of CERN, the European nuclear research institute, and the Patek Philippe Amagnetic, the brand’s first magnetism-resistant wristwatch.
In keeping with the historical inspiration, the RRCA has a “sector” or “scientific” dial that features a central motif of alternating blocks that are meant to represent the opposing polarities of a magnetic field.
Finished in black grand feu enamel, the dial features “gilt” markings in gold poudre enamel print. The hands are solid gold and attached to stainless steel bosses that are mirror polished.
The steel case is the first one in the alloy made by the Jean-Pierre Hagmann workshop that is now part of Akrivia. Inside the case is a ferritic steel ring that is easily magnetised, protecting the movement within from magnetism.
Its design and dimensions are classical in the usual Rexhep Rexhepi manner. But the details of the case echo functional vintage timepieces, explaining the stepped bezel, sturdy lugs, and brushed finish.
The case measures 38 mm in diameter and 9.9 mm high, making it slightly thicker than the Chronometre Contemporain II. That is due to the case construction as well as the movement.
The case actually has a double back – an inner sapphire back and an outer steel back that is secured with a bayonet lock. The outer back can be easily unscrewed and locks back into position thanks to a lightning bolt engraved on its edge that serves as a reference point.
As for the movement, it departs from the construction found in prior Rexhep Rexhepi calibres, found in the first and second Chronometre Contemporain respectively. While those featured directly-driven subsidiary seconds and a off-centre balance wheel, the movement in the RRCA has an indirectly-driven central seconds and a central balance wheel.
Even though the fundamental architecture of the movement differs, the design retains the symmetry and highly defined bridges that characterise the brand. The focal point of the movement sits in its centre – a polished, rounded steel bridge holds the seconds wheel that drives the central seconds on the front. On the same axis is a heart-shaped cam, which along with a reset lever and tension spring form the zero-reset function that allows the wearer to pull the crown, sending the seconds hand to a stop at 12 o’clock for more accurate time setting.
Notably, in contrast to the functional steel case, the key elements of the movement are 14k solid gold, namely the pallet lever and all of the wheels. The solid-gold wheels are especially prominent along the indirect seconds train located to the right of the balance wheel.
Key facts and price
Rexhep Rexhepi Chronomètre Antimagnétique “Only Watch 2023”
Diameter: 38 mm
Height: 9.9 mm
Material: Stainless steel
Water resistance: 30 m
Functions: Hours, minutes, and seconds with hacking zero-reset
Frequency: 21,600 beats per hour (3 Hz)
Power reserve: 72 hours
Strap: Fabric with pin buckle
Limited edition: Piece unique
Availability: To be sold at Only Watch on November 5 2023
For more, visit onlywatch.com.
Correction August 29, 2023: The case back can be unscrewed without any tools, unlike what was stated in an earlier version of the article.Back to top.