Earlier this week, in a beautiful villa nestled in the verdant hills of the Central California coast, Louis Vuitton unveiled its latest timepiece: the Louis Vuitton x Akrivia LVRR-01 Chronograph á Sonnerie, a horological marvel made in partnership with renowned watchmaker Rexhep Rexhepi. It’s the first of a series of collaborations — five, to be exact — that Louis Vuitton plans on creating with leading independent watchmakers over the next five years, and Rexhepi certainly makes for a perfect lead-off hitter. Rexhepi has been at the forefront of independent watchmaking since he founded the Geneva-based Atelier Akrivia in 2012, and his watches are celebrated for both their technical ingenuity and exceptional finishing. While the timepieces produced under the broader Akrivia label are more avant-garde in their designs, those released under Rexhepi’s eponymous collection tend towards more classical stylings, and both of these aesthetics are fully celebrated in the double-faced chronograph layout of the LVRR-01. It’s a seamless union of the two Maisons’ design languages that not only makes for an impressive watch but also bodes well for Louis Vuitton’s future collaborations.

The guiding hand behind this project is 24-year-old Jean Arnault, director of watches at Louis Vuitton since 2021. Don’t let his age fool you; what Arnault lacks in years, he more than makes up for in ambition. In his two short years at the helm, Arnault has refocused the brand’s strategy to center around the impressive workmanship and artistry taking place at La Fabrique du Temps, the exclusive Swiss facility where all Louis Vuitton watches are manufactured. From the recent relaunch of the iconic Louis Vuitton Tambour watch, the revival of the Gerald Genta and Daniel Roth brands, and the announcement of the Louis Vuitton Watch Prize for Independent Creatives, each business decision by Arnault has been made to highlight the considerable horological prowess that Louis Vuitton has at its disposal. The creation of the LVRR-01 continues that trend, and given the context, the technical acumen of an independent watchmaker like Rexhepi makes him a more than fitting partner for this collaboration.

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The Louis Vuitton x Akrivia LVRR-01 Chronograph á Sonnerie is based on a reinterpreted version of the Tambour, crafted from platinum by the legendary casemaker Jean-Pierre Hagmann. The sharply angled lugs, says Rexhepi, were incredibly difficult to solder to the case, which is no surprise given the metal in question. The case itself measures 39.5mm wide and just barely more than 12mm tall; not exactly svelte, but a relatively minor concession given the inclusion of the two dials that give the LVRR-01 its distinct appearance. On the front-facing side of the watch, the inverted caliber sits behind a smoke-tinted sapphire crystal, highlighting the chronograph mechanism, a tourbillon at 6 o’clock that rotates once every five minutes (as compared to the more conventional one-minute rotation of most tourbillons), and the chiming components of the sonnerie. Six gold cubes filled with plique-à-jour-fired enamel serve as hour markers, with a look reminiscent of stained glass. Those familiar with the broader Louis Vuitton watch catalog will no doubt recognize the nod here to the cubes found on the brand’s Spin Time watches as well as the angular crown that harkens back to the original Tambour.

As to be expected from Rexhepi, the movement is immaculately hand-decorated, with ample amounts of anglage, black polishing, and perlage throughout. This side of the dial channels the decidedly avant-garde nature of Akrivia and is signed as such, except with one minor (major) difference: the “V’ of Akrivia is replaced with the Louis Vuitton logo, marking the first time that the famous LV initials have ever been combined with any other logo. Flipping the watch to the reverse reveals a much more reserved visual presentation in comparison: a glossy white grand feu enamel dial with Rexhep Rexhepi branding and two concentric tracks in blue and red that mark the running seconds and minutes of the chronograph, respectively. However, the simplicity of the dial belies the unique sonnerie complication that sounds each passing minute that the chronograph is actuated. Necessary? No. Charming? Absolutely.

Listening to Arnault speak about the LVRR-01, there’s no questioning his love of horology. But you can hear an even deeper appreciation for the craft that feeds his passion, a specific affinity for the kind of independent watchmaking that someone like Rexhepi represents. “Independent watchmaking is all the rage today,” says Arnault. “But I want that conversation to continue for the next 10, 15, 20 years. Hopefully, we can use the Louis Vuitton name to shed more light on that part of the industry that, in my opinion, is what makes the needle move. The traditional part of the industry has very little soul.” He makes a simple nod towards the LVRR-01 watch in his hands. With a smile, he says, “These products have soul.” Or as the case may be with a timepiece that blends the designs of Louis Vuitton, Akrivia, and Rexhep Rexhepi: three souls. 

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The Louis Vuitton x Akrivia LVRR-01 Chronograph á Sonnerie is a limited edition of 10 pieces, each presented in a hand-painted Louis Vuitton trunk. Each trunk features the combined Akrivia and Louis Vuitton logo on the outside, and inside are the signatures of the artisans responsible for creating the timepiece: Rexhep Rexhepi, Jean-Pierre Hagmann, and enameler Nicolas Doublel. Pricing for the Louis Vuitton x Akrivia LVRR-01 Chronograph á Sonnerie is 450,000 CHF and for more information, visit the Louis Vuitton website.

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