Hands On: Rexhep Rexhepi Chronomètre Contemporain II Diamant

Stark, formal beauty.

Much lauded at its launch last year, the Rexhep Rexhepi Chronomètre Contemporain II (RRCC II) was originally available only in two guises of rose gold or platinum, each with a matching enamel now.

Now Rexhep Rexhepi has quietly debuted a small run of the RRCC II in the same metals with gemstone hour markers to match. The platinum version features a black enamel dial with baguette-cut diamond indices that give it a stark, formal beauty. And the rose gold model has a cream enamel dial with ruby markers.

Initial thoughts

Discreetly glamorous gentlemen’s watches with diamond hour markers are a well established tradition in watchmaking, particularly so during the mid-20th century at high-end brands like Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet. The new RRCC II is clearly a reference to such historical watches.

Despite being a modern watch, and clearly recognisable as such, the diamond-set RRCC II manages to capture the subtle, elegant nature of its historical inspiration thanks to its compact case with graceful lugs inspired by vintage Patek Philippe models, including this ref. 2551.

A possibly unique Patek Philippe ref. 2551 dating from 1957 with a white gold case and diamond indices that sold for almost CHF360,000 at Phillips in 2022

Interestingly, even though the RRCC II was not originally conceived as a gem-set watch, the dial accommodates the diamond hour markers perfectly. The glossy surface of the enamel dial complements the diamonds’ sparkle, while the alternating track for the hours needed only a modest tweak to form a border for each diamond. This minor adjustment to the design changes the aesthetic of the watch more substantially than expected, giving it a cleaner, more contemporary look – an unexpected outcome with the addition of gemstones.

A black-tie watch

The RRCC II with diamonds retains the familiar look of the standard version, though it is distinctive even at a distance due to the removal of the Roman numerals. Diamond-set watches often look more old fashioned, but this is the opposite as the dial is cleaner and more modern without Roman numerals indices.

To accommodate the diamonds, the dial design has been tweaked to narrow the alternating slots for the markers. The standard dial has wider slots for the Roman numerals, while here the slots form a tight border around the baguette diamonds. Perhaps more than the diamonds, the narrow slots are decisive in the contemporary feel of the dial.

One detail I would change, however, are the Arabic numerals on the seconds scale. They serve as a counterpoint to the Roman numerals on the regular-production model, but here they look out of place. Replacing them with elongated hashmarks would have further accentuated the linearity of the dial.

Design aside, the dial remains the same – it is fired enamel on a solid-gold disc with enamel printing. Unlike the first-generation RRCC that had a two-part dial with a recessed seconds, this is a single piece with the seconds register flush with the main dial.

The case is the same as found on the standard model and sports the elongated, curved lugs that are now a signature element of the Rexhep Rexhepi aesthetic. Featuring a fluted edge, the lugs are inspired by vintage Patek Philippe cases, particularly those made by Emile Vichet, which are found in famous references like the 1518 and 2499.

Another notable aspect of the case is the ovoid bezel, a subtle and almost hidden feature. Although the dial is round, the bezel is slightly wider at six and 12 o’clock, resulting in a visual lengthening of the case. This, along with the elongated lugs, gives the watch a more elegant profile.

The calibre is identical to that in the regular-production model, although the serial number is unique to the diamond-set version. Engraved on the barrel bridge as is convention, the serial number includes “D” to indicate diamant indices.

Despite looking much like the first-generation movement at a glance, the RRCC II movement is actually an all-new calibre from its foundations. Characterised by the symmetry that defines all of Rexhep Rexhepi’s constructions, the movement has double barrels and twin going trains, one for the time and the other for the independent deadbeat seconds. In contrast, the RRCC I movement was a more conventional construction with a single barrel and one gear train.

In terms of decoration, the RRCC II movement also exceeds its predecessor. The polished surfaces are more lustrous, while the grain of the Côtes de Genève is finer.

Amongst the most obvious improvements are the wider bevels around the bridges that give the anglage an almost exaggerated appearance. This is matched by equally prominent countersinks for the screws and jewels.

A counterpoint to the rounded bevels are the flat, black-polished steel components, namely the cap for the balance cock and the fourth wheel bridge.

It is difficult to find something to criticise in the movement, but not impossible. It is tiny and imperceptible to most, but the countersink for the screw that secures the steel cap on the balance cock should be done away with, since having a countersink breaks up the flatness of the black-polished steel cap.

Concluding thoughts

The diamond-index RRCC II is a good looking watch that is distinct from the regular model yet subtle enough to be just as wearable. Although the monochromatic palette makes it a perfect formal-dress watch, the diamond indices are discreet and appropriate for everyday wear.

Notably, the rose gold model with its ruby markers is the opposite in terms of aesthetics. It has a warm, vintage feel that evokes mid-century wristwatches, most notably the custom-order Patek Philippe watches made for the state of Saudi Arabia.

The RRCC II with gemstone markers is only about 20% more expensive than the standard model, which is fair value as such things go. Available is unfortunately limited, with production of the gem-set models limited to a handful in each metal.

Key facts and price

Rexhep Rexhepi Chronomètre Contemporain II

Diameter: 38 mm
Height: 8.75 mm
Material: Platinum
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 100 m

Movement: RRCC02
Functions: Hours, minutes, and seconds with hacking and zero-reset functions
Frequency: 21,600 beats per hour (3 Hz)
Winding: Hand wind
Power reserve: 82 hours

Strap: Calfskin with pin buckle

Limited edition: Very, very few
Availability: Direct from Akrivia or authorised retailers 
CHF150,000 before taxes

For more, visit Akrivia.com.


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