Cover Rexhep Rexhepi working in his workshop, Akravia

The young Swiss watchmaker discusses the follow-up to his award-winning debut watch that bears his name

In 2012, at only 26, Rexhep Rexhepi established his own watch workshop Akravia (Greek for 'precision') in Geneva, with a mission to produce watches in the grand tradition of Swiss watchmaking. Both watchmaker and workshop quickly gained a reputation for superlative finishing.

In 2018, Rexhepi released the first watch to bear his name, the Rexhep Rexhepi Chronomètre Contemporain, that became one of the most talked-about new watches of the year. It would go on to be named the Best Men's Watch at GPHG 2018, the luxury watch industry's Oscars. 

A classic-looking timepiece with minute, hour and second indications, its attraction lay in its simplicity and contrasting elements, from the "fascinating visual tension of the case through the interweaving of symmetrical and asymmetrical forms, as well as concave and convex details visible in the case sides and lugs" to the contemporary update of the sector dial. 

Utterly beguiling with white or black grand feu enamel dial, it became one of the most coveted watches and catapulted Rexhepi's name to the upper echelons of watchmaking—all at a relatively young age of 32. 

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Now 36, Rexhepi has finally released the much-anticipated follow-up to his bestselling hit, Rexhep Rexhepi Chronomètre Contemporain II (RRCC II). At first glance, it looks similar to its predecessor. The movement, however, is completely new and equipped with two barrels. One supplies energy to the balance while the other powers the jumping seconds hand at 6 o'clock, a function that wasn't present in the first watch. The seconds hand can be reset instantaneously to zero with a simple pull of the crown. 

The balance wheel features regulating screws instead of circular weights, accounting for 60 per cent more inertia and 40 per cent more torque than the first edition for a more stable timekeeping over longer periods.

The case, while maintaining its 38mm diameter, has been refined further with elongated but gracefully arched lugs modelled after mid-century gentlemen's watches by esteemed case maker Emile Vichet. The crown is slightly larger for a better grip. Available in platinum with black grand feu enamel dial or rose gold with white dial, the RRCC II is available exclusively at The Hour Glass

See also: Girard-Perregaux Brings Back Cult Favourite '70s Watch, The Casquette

"I like watchmaking because you can always do better."
Rexhep Rexhepi

In a Zoom call from Tokyo where Rexhepi was launching RRCC II, he shared everything from the new watch to fame.

Being a perfectionist, how do you know when to stop working on a watch and release it?

It's really hard for me and I need to push myself to accept that it's done. (RRCC II) is a nice watch today, it works well, it's got incredible craftmanship, and it's the best that I'm able to do now. But for me, it's never perfect. The problem is if I think about it too much, it will never be finished!

What's the biggest challenge when it comes to watchmaking?

To balance every element perfectly. You can have a beautiful movement but it doesn't matter if the rest of the watch is aesthetically ugly. 

Speaking of which, how do you balance past, present and future?

What we have in watchmaking today is because of the past. We're inspired by traditional watchmaking but I try not to do something that somebody else had done. We're shaping our own identity, finding our own identity and sharpening the sense of who we are.

Where did you find the courage to open your own workshop at 26?

I'm a dreamer and I was just following my dream.

How did you handle all the attention when the first RRCC came out in 2018?

I tried not to get sucked in by the success. It's a pleasure (to be recognised) but we're all about authenticity. I'm just grateful that I'm able to do what I want to do. 

Did it give you added pressure when you were working on RRCC II?

Most of the pressure came from me; I wanted to do better. I like watchmaking because you can always do better.

What is it like to have a hugely successful luxury watch that bears your name?

I wasn't confident to put my name at first because I had always thought, "Who was I to do this?". As a child, I moved from Kosovo to Switzerland with my parents and my father always told me to integrate in order not to stand out. I carried that attitude throughout my life, so even when I started my workshop I didn't want to launch a watch under my name. But people kept asking me to do it so I finally did it in 2018.

How do you like Japan?

It's exciting to meet the Japanese collectors. The people here are so passionate and very kind; they want to take care of you. I feel happy and overwhelmed. I had sushi for breakfast this morning but what fascinated me more was a woman who was drinking beer at 8am. 

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