Louis Vuitton Announces Semi-Finalists for Independent Watchmaking Award

Twenty emerge from the hundreds.

The 20 semi-finalists of the Louis Vuitton Watch Prize for Independent Creatives have been announced. An initiative started by the French luxury giant, the prize aims to reward the best independent watchmaking by supporting the winner through a grant and mentorship. 

The semi-finalists represent the full range of talent from across the industry and world, with established names such as Strehler and Sarpaneva alongside relative newcomers such as Yosuke Sekiguchi. There is also a range of abilities in this list, from those who are making almost a complete watch under one roof, to those who conceive and then bring together craftspeople to execute.

It is reassuring to see such a wide variety in styles and approaches being represented here. Selecting just five to move on to the finals will certainly not be an easy task for the panel of judges.

The 20 semi-finalists are: 

  • Tischkalender Sympathique – Andreas Strehler
  • Tourbillon Grand Sport – Auffret Paris
  • Project One – Barrelhand
  • Ultralight 11G – Behrens
  • Tourbillon Classique, Souscription Édition – Deprez Horloger
  • Homage to Harrison One – Felipe Pikullik
  • Part Time – Itay Noy
  • L’Abeille Mécanique – John-Mikaël Flaux
  • Arkhea – Khemea
  • KS 05 Titanium Blue Aventurine – Kross Studio
  • Persée Nuit – Maison Alcée
  • Roots – Narbel & Co
  • Black Hole Tourbillon – Ondřej Berkus
  • Fundamentum – Oscillon
  • RP1 – Régulateur à détente – Pagès
  • Chronographe Rattrapante – Petermann Bédat
  • 119C – Sarauer Horology
  • Lunations Black Ruthenium – Sarpaneva
  • Chronomètre Artisans – Simon Brette
  • Primevère – Yosuke Sekiguchi Le Locle

The winner will receive a one-year mentoring programme at La Fabrique du Temps in Geneva

The selection process

The long process of this competition began back in January of this year when submissions opened. Once these were finished the committee of experts that Louis Vuitton had assembled whittled the long list down to the 20 you see above. This committee of experts is made up of collectors, watchmakers, journalists and executives from around the industry who will now choose just five finalists. 

This selection will be made upon the following criteria: design, creativity, innovation, craftsmanship, and technical complexity of the creation and/or horological construction submitted by the candidates. These five will audition in front of a jury made of five members of the committee in Paris next February. 

The winner will be presented at a ceremony shortly after, in Paris. They will not only receive a cash grant of €150,000 but also a year’s personalised mentoring at La Fabrique de Temps Louis Vuitton. 

This offers a great opportunity for any of the 20 that have been selected to push their creations and skills further. Ensuring that the creative legacy of this industry remains secure for years to come.

For more information, visit Louisvuittonwatchprize.com.

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Urwerk Conceives a Sci-Fi Tower Clock for Charity

Reflecting the brand's independent thinking.

With a towering height of 1.62 m and hefty weight of 40 kg, the one-of-a-kind Space-Time Blade created for Only Watch 2023 undeniably embodies the quintessential Urwerk style in both form and concept. The Space-Time Blade is the only sci-fi, retro-electronic clock in an auction dominated by mechanical wristwatches, proving that Urwerk always does things its own way.

Even then the Space-Time Blade is hardly a clock in the conventional sense. It eschews minute and hour hands, and even the outline of a conventional standing clock. Instead it illustrates Urwerk founders Felix Baumgartner and Martin Frei’s fascination with the captivating and vintage technology of Nixie tubes.

It will be sold by Christie’s during Only Watch, the charitable auction held every other year to raise funds for research into a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

Initial thoughts

It’s easy to see this in the corner of a Brutalist home, alongside other examples of interpretive modern art, but that is not what makes this piece interesting from a construction or technical standpoint. Instead it is the Nixie tubes and their display, along with the multiple timekeeping functions that provided reason for pause. The many and varied ways in which this piece can measure and display time speak to the heart of Urwerk’s philosophy.

Known for polarising pieces that push the line between timekeeper and sculpture, Urwerk has created its most abstract timepiece to date with its singular take on the standing clock. The sci-fi references of the Space-Time Blade are strong and perhaps a little on the nose. The appeal of the clock is very personal to everyone, as with everything this brand produces, it is certainly not aimed to appeal to a broad audience.

Whether you like it or not, the Space-Time Blade shows why Urwerk is a genuine independent watchmaker. Felix Baumgartner and Martin Frei create exactly what they desire and not what the market demands. So no integrated bracelet sports watch or movement with extra inward angles, but the Space-Time Blade.

The question that remains, for now, is the value of such an enigmatic creation. With a low estimate of CHF45,000, the Space-Time Blade is one of the more affordable lots in the sale – and perhaps the best value in its price segment.

Intriguing Nixie tubes

The Space-Time Blade is destined to capture attention in any setting. Whether regarded as a timekeeping device, a celestial odometer, or even an artistic masterpiece, it is probably easier to amalgamate all these aspects into one. Another striking association is its resemblance to a lightsaber from the Star Wars universe, with its sci-fi grip clearly inspiring the base section of this creation. This design element drew inspiration from Urwerk’s iconic bronze crown seen on their wristwatches. Above it, a glass column houses vertically arranged Nixie tubes displaying digital time and casting a futuristic luminescent plasma glow.

It’s a well-known fact that Urwerk occasionally diverges from its traditional wristwatch path to present creatively astounding items that still carry the distinctive Urwerk nonconformist spirit established by its founders, Felix Baumgartner and Martin Frei. The AMC atomic master clock, Macallan x Urwerk Flask, and now the Space-Time Blade are examples that are guaranteed to astonish those less familiar with the brand’s portfolio.

The Space-Time Blade actually came to life with the collaboration and expertise of Czech entrepreneur Dalibor Farny, a pioneer in reviving Nixie tube technology since his discovery of it on the internet in 2011. Since then, he has dedicated his time to studying Nixie tubes and their manufacturing processes.

This remarkable vintage technology involves delicate bulbs filled with low-pressure neon gas, with cathodes forming the numerals positioned within wire-meshed anodes. Requiring a similar level of hand precision as watchmaking itself, every wire structure is meticulously arranged, element by element, using just a pair of pliers. Once activated, the warm orange-hued display can change at a staggering rate of up to 100,000 times per second.

Urwerk configured the eight vertically aligned Nixie bulbs to showcase various indications, selectable through a unique remote control:

  1. Time indication in hours, minutes, and seconds
  2. Time indication in hours, minutes, seconds, 1/10, and 1/100 of a second
  3. Indication of kilometres covered in one day (Earth’s rotation at the Equator)
  4. Indication of kilometres traveled in one day (Earth’s revolution around the Sun)
  5. Indication of kilometres traveled in one year (Earth’s revolution around the Sun)

Key facts and price

Urwerk Space-Time Blade for Only Watch

Height: 1.62 m
Material: Glass tube, bronze stand

Movement: Developed and made by Urwerk in collaboration with Dalibor Farny
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds and distance travelled by the Earth
Winding: Electric
Power reserve: Unavailable

Limited edition: Unique piece
: At Only Watch 2023 on November 5 in Geneva
Estimate: CHF45,000-80,000

For more, visit onlywatch.com.


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