Introducing the Rexhep Rexhepi Chronométre Contemporain II

The long-awaited second series of Rexhep Rexhepi’s celebrated Chronométre Contemporain has arrived. With a fully redeveloped movement that echoes the same highly refined stylistic codes first established four years ago, this latest release is certain to please followers of his work. Incorporating a new complication, deadbeat seconds, case-making by the legendary Jean-Pierre Hagmann and two stunning new enamel dials, both the rose-gold and platinum executions of the watch are true examples of the finest craft of independent watchmaking.

While only 100 pieces will be made in this series, it marks an important milestone in the career of Rexhep Rexhepi – 10 years of independent watchmaking. Read on to discover more.

THE MOVEMENT

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    Rexhep Rexhepi

LOREM IPSUM

When talking about any examples of fine horology, let alone exceptional watches like these, you have to start by looking at the movement. A noteworthy evolution of the calibre found in the first Chronométre Contemporain, the RRCC02 has some key changes that should be highlighted to show how far Rexhepi has come over the past four years. The piece will look remarkably similar to those who got the chance to study the piece presented at the Only Watch auction last year, but it is worth going over what differentiates this new model from its initial iteration.

LOREM IPSUM

The first point of difference is to be found under the top bridge, and is evident by the addition of a second jewel and pivot under the watchmaker’s signature. This, of course, shows that this is a double-barrel movement, keeping the power reserve high – 82 hours – while allowing the new feature on this watch, the deadbeat seconds, to run smoothly. This complication was teased in the Only Watch example, and here there is little difference. The additional main spring drives the power-hungry deadbeat seconds, found in the sub-dial at six o’clock, through its own gear train. This is an unusual way to construct this hacking mechanism, but one which only adds to the elegance of the movement’s architecture. Fans of the original model will also be pleased to know that the zero-reset function can still be found here.

This second gear train can be seen through the sapphire caseback, as it drives the star wheel in the star-and-flit mechanism, causing the jumping of the seconds hand. Something that has been long remarked upon about Rexhep’s work is the quality of the finishing; here, this reputation is only reinforced. Broad, perfectly executed Côtes de Genève cover the majority of the visible flat surfaces, providing a satisfying contrast to the high shine of the two black polished bridges.

As you get closer to this new calibre, you also notice an evolution to the execution of the anglage. The wheels of the two going trains contain 140 individually hand-polished interior angles. Creating these broad, rounded edges on both bridges and wheels manually is a labour-intensive process but gives the most visually pleasing outcome. The main plates and bridges of this movement are made from unleaded German silver, while all the black polished components are stainless steel.

Showcasing the integration of unobtrusive complications into a calibre’s architecture without disrupting the visual balance, all while displaying the highest quality in finishing, this movement is perhaps the clearest distillation of the watchmaker’s vision and ability.

THE CASE

As with the movement, the case feels like a natural progression from its earlier iteration, with slight modifications to help differentiate it and manifest the evolution of the workshop. As many will be aware, Rexhepi has been able to lean on the wealth of knowledge and experience of Jean-Pierre Hagmann since he joined the young independent workshop in late 2019.

Hagmann’s work has become legendary among collectors in today’s market. Known as one of the last master casemakers, he is keeping traditions alive that would otherwise have been lost to the annals of time. Hagmann has crafted cases for brands such as Audemars Piguet, Vacheron Constantin, and, most famously, Patek Philippe only working with the most historically accurate techniques. This approach resonates entirely with the exceptional construction of the rest of the watch.

All of the Chronométre Contemporain II cases will bear the highly desirable JHP stamp on the inside of a lug, signalling that Hagmann developed this case (which took two years to do) using a specially developed oval tool. While there have been no radical changes made in terms of the design, it feels finely tuned and wonderfully proportioned. The case is made up of 15 individual components, with slightly elongated lugs that are individually soldered to the middle of the case. This is paired with a slightly more pronounced dome to the crystal.

There will only be cases made in rose gold and platinum – with 50 examples of each – at 38mm. Both materials are traditional and show a clear line of continuity from the first series of the release, which only used the same metals.

THE DIAL

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    Rexhep Rexhepi

This is perhaps the area with the greatest visual consistency from the first Chronométre Contemporain, but with significant refinements. Firstly, there are two dial options, both in grand feu enamel, with one for each case metal. The rose-gold case has been matched with an off-white eggshell dial, with hands flamed to an almost violet shade. The platinum version is fitted with a deep black dial and a subtle grey sub-dial. This sub-dial has a hand-engraved gratté pattern underneath, exposed through a semi-translucent enamel – very similar to the process carried out on the Only Watch piece.

Again, while there is a degree of transference from the original model’s design, here the print is slightly thicker, giving increased legibility. These markings are all completed in enamel: a delicate procedure that requires extra firing in order to set it.

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One area of difference on these dials between the first series and these is the loss of the metal ring surrounding the sub-dial. This slightly recessed sub-dial is made as part of the rest of the dial, a tricky operation in comparison to the alternative of making it as a separate piece and soldering it on. Removing the surrounding ring and producing it in a single piece only adds to the seamless finish of this dial.

THE MAKER

Rexhep Rexhepi is one of the most celebrated watchmakers of his generation. The young craftsman, born and raised in Kosovo before moving to Switzerland as a teenager, has one of the strongest pedigrees in the industry.

He joined Patek Philippe at just 15, on an apprenticeship that would start him on the journey to a lifelong passion for fine watchmaking. Upon graduating five years later, Rexhepi joined BNB Concept, a workshop that focused on producing highly complicated conceptual movements. Here he would lead a team of 10 watchmakers many years his senior. From there, he went on to work for F.P. Journe, flourishing and quickly taking on the construction of Journe’s signature complication, the Resonance.

It’s clear to see the influences on Rexhepi’s work from the path he chose for himself, with the traditions of Patek Philippe, the new technology of BNB Concept, and the independent mindset of F.P. Journe all pushing him towards where he is today.

Launching his own workshop, AKRIVIA, in 2012, we feel incredibly privileged to have borne witness to his journey so far. Now with a core team of 15 in his Genevan atelier, Rexhepi has established his own design language, inspired by those who came before him, while very much shaping things around his own taste and style.

A decade on from his first steps into independence, Rexhepi’s name echoes at the highest levels of independent watchmaking, and he received the Best Men’s Watch award at the GPHG in 2018 for the first series of the Chronométre Contemporain. This next step in his eponymous family of watches only looks likely to build on this success, solidifying his position among independent watchmakers, as one of the best and brightest of his generation.