Louis Vuitton has announced the names of the five finalists of the inaugural edition of the Louis Vuitton Watch Prize for Independent Creatives and revealed the names of the five jury members.
The finalists will present their timepiece projects to the jury members at the Fondation Louis Vuitton on February 6, 2024, with the winner announced at a celebration ceremony that evening.
The finalists are Petermann Bédat, by Gaël Petermann et Florian Bédat, who have been independent watchmakers since 2017; indie watchmaker Simon Brette, whose Chronometre Artisans watch blends neo-classicism and art nouveau touches with an in-house caliber; and John-Mikaël Flaux, another independent watchmaker. Flaux’s L’Abeille Mécanique (mechanical bee) in silver and gold is truly surreal. With a one-of-a-kind figurative mechanism with an AB-01 movement, manual winding, dedicated key, carrousel movement and a “stinger“ poetics hours indicator.
“This Prize gives independent watchmakers an opportunity to surpass themselves and showcase a unique savoir-faire,” said the duo of Petermann Bédat in a release.
While Andreas Strehler and Enrico Santoni, independent watchmakers since 1995, dreamed up the “time object” Tischkalender Sympathique – a mechanical perpetual desk calendar in gilded brass set with lapis lazuli; and last but not least Pagès, by Raúl Pagès, developed the RP1 – Régulateur à détente – a manual-winding wristwatch in stainless steel with a unique construction featuring an in-house caliber, and, overall, a new Brutalist air.
“Independent watchmakers must be spearheads of creativity and defenders of craftsmanship,” said Pagès, who decided to strike out on his own after gaining experience restoring masterpieces.
”The Louis Vuitton Watch prize exists because we believe that the future of watchmaking belongs to the dreamers and rule-breakers who meet the highest standards of craftmanship. I would like to congratulate our five finalists – in your hands, the horizon for Independent Watchmaking is looking very bright indeed,” said Jean Arnault, director of watches at Louis Vuitton. Jean is the youngest of five children of Bernard Arnault, Europe’s richest man. Jean’s daddy controls LVMH, is the owner of Vuitton and some 70 luxury brands.
The first Louis Vuitton Watch Prize drew nearly 1,000 submissions. Of these, 20 semi-finalists were pre-selected and presented to a Committee of Experts comprised of 45 watch enthusiasts. Candidates were evaluated according to five criteria: Design, Creativity, Innovation, Craftsmanship and Technical Complexity.
The five jury members are: Carole Forestier-Kasapi, Movements director at Tag Heuer, where young Jean’s older brother Frédéique is a senior executive; Auro Montanari, a noted watch collector, watchmaking expert and writer; Rexhep Rexhepi, founder of Atelier Akrivia, an independent watchmaker; Jiaxian Su, a freelance journalist based in Singapore, specializing in watches and founder of SJX Watches; and Michael Tay, President of the jury and group managing director of multi-brands retailer The Hour Glass.
The eventual winner will receive a year-long mentorship with an in-house team of experts at La Fabrique du Temps, Vuitton’s watch manufacturing plant in Meyrin (Switzerland), along with a financial prize. Vuitton did not reveal how much that would be worth.
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