In an unexpected movement, Louis Vuitton and Akrivia have just announced the Louis Vuitton x Rexhep Rexhepi LVRR-01 Chronographe à Sonnerie. Reflecting the collaborative nature of the watch, it has two faces – the tinted sapphire dial for the time and a fired enamel dial on the back for the chronograph.
The LVRR-01 also boasts an unusual combination of complications: a chronograph with a chiming mechanism that strikes once every elapsed minute, along with a five-minute tourbillon – and a constant-force gear train.
[NB: The watch pictured is one of two prototypes so the finishing, particularly the cleanliness of the movement, is not up to par.]
Technically-minded enthusiasts will appreciate the sophistication of the movement, since the chronograph and sonnerie are driven by secondary barrel and going train that is effectively a one-minute constant force mechanism.
Limited to 10 watches, the LVRR-01 is the first of a series of five collaborative projects between Louis Vuitton and independent watchmakers. The next project will be revealed in a year’s time, with the subsequent projects following the same annual timetable.
The LVRR-01 has the heft and gleam of a finely made watch. The chamfered edges on the platinum case immediately catch the eye, particularly because of the contrast with the brushed surfaces, and then the movement finishing becomes apparent through sapphire crystal.
In fact, the smoked sapphire crystal perhaps obscures too much of the movement in certain lighting, making the artful decoration less obvious. Despite being a prototype, the watch feels like haute horlogerie and certainly lives up to the standards that are now expected of Akrivia and its founder Rexhep Rexhepi, while being an unexpected creation from Louis Vuitton.
It looks the part as well. Even at a distance, the LVRR-01 is evocative of Rexhepi Rexhepi’s other watches, namely the Chronomètre Contemporain I and II (RRCC I and II). Up close the Louis Vuitton elements emerge, but the two identities are cohesive. Unlike the earlier Harry Winston Opus series that were mostly Harry Winston cases containing movements by independent watchmakers, the LVRR-01 feels like an Rexhep Rexhepi creation that seamlessly incorporates Louis Vuitton throughout.
While the familial resemblance to the RRCC I and II is apparent, it will probably be even more apparent in the final production examples that will be further refined. Amongst the details I think need to be refined are the lugs, which feel a bit longer and larger than they should be. Another are the visible screws on the sapphire dial that can probably be done away with while maintaining the integrity of the construction.
The case feels tall for the diameter, though that is inescapable due to the complications. Evocative of the original Louis Vuitton Tambour case that had tall, sloping flanks, the proportions of the LVRR-01 are also reminiscent of older split-seconds chronographs, which often have a similar compact diameter and tall profile.
Still, the LVRR-01 is extremely compelling even in its prototype form. And its price is reasonable as such things go, adding to the appeal. Priced at about US$476,000 before taxes, It is by no means inexpensive. But the combination of a chronograph with sonnerie and tourbillon – along with the exemplary decoration and construction – makes this a competitive proposition in top-level independent watchmaking.
Rexhepi and Louis
The design and concept of the LVRR-01 artfully blends both brands. The sapphire dial, for instance, brings to mind the sector-style dials of the RRCC I and II, but with plique-a-jour enamel cubes that are inspired by the Spin Time, Louis Vuitton’s trademark cubic jumping hours.
Likewise for the platinum case that has high, sloping flanks. The slope starts on the case middle and continues into the bezel, creating an incline that brings to mind the original and thick Tambour.
At 11.6 mm high, the case is a little too tall to be truly elegant, but it certainly has presence. On the other hand, the diameter is 39.9 mm, though the case feels smaller than it actually is due to the height.
But the case is defined less by its dimensions than the style and finishing. The lugs are long and angular – perhaps a bit too exaggerated on the prototype – while the finish is almost entirely brushed, save for polished edges along the bezel, middle, and lugs. The matte surfaces bordered by polished edges gives the case a discreet gleam that is appealing.
The case size was dictated by the LVRR-01, a new calibre devised and produced by Akrivia. The base calibre is a manual wind movement with an 82-hour power reserve with a five-minute tourbillon; the slow rotation is inspired by historical pocket watches.
Integrated into the base movement is the chronograph, which is a traditional set up with a lateral wheel and vertical clutch. More unusually, the chronograph incorporates a chiming mechanism with a hammer that strikes a gong once every elapsed minute when the chronograph is running.
Even more notable is the construction of the chronograph and sonnerie. The two are powered by a separate gear train linked to a secondary barrel that is slightly smaller and produces lower torque.
This gear train contains an escapement that locks and unlocks once a minute, allowing the chronograph and sonnerie to run with no impact on the timekeeping portion of the movement. In other words, the amplitude of the movement remains constant even after the chronograph is engaged, making the secondary gear train a constant force mechanism.
Like all of the current RRCC cases, the case of LVRR-01 is made by Akrivia’s in-house workshop overseen by Jean-Pierre Hagmann, a veteran case maker with decades of experience, hence the “JHP” hallmark on the reverse of one lug.
The dials, on the other hand, were literally a collaborative effort. Louis Vuitton La Fabrique du Temps (LFT) produced the sapphire dial, but the plique-a-jour enamel cubes were done by Akrivia. And the white enamel dial was enamelled by LFT, but on a gold dial base produced by Akrivia.
And then there is the box, a trunk that is all Louis Vuitton, but customised for the LVRR-01 with painted chronograph scales.
Key facts and price
Louis Vuitton x Rexhep Rexhepi LVRR-01 Chronographe à Sonnerie
Diameter: 39.9 mm
Height: 11.6 mm
Water resistance: 30 m
Features: Hours, minutes, chronograph with sonnerie, and tourbillon
Frequency: 21,600 beats per hour (3 Hz)
Winding: Manual winding
Power reserve: 82 hours
Strap: Leather with platinum pin buckle
Limited edition: 10 pieces
Availability: At Louis Vuitton boutiques
Price: €450,000 before taxes
For more, visit Louisvuitton.com.
Correction October 10, 2023: The accurate term for the enamel cubes is “plique-a-jour,” as opposed to “flinque” as previously mentioned.Back to top.