INDUSTRY NEWS: Raúl Pagès Wins The Louis Vuitton Prize For Independent Creatives!

by Matt Clymo

The inaugural prize for Independent Watchmaking launched by Jean Arnault, Director of Watches for Louis Vuitton has been awarded this week to a worthy winner – Raúl Pagès for his RP1 – Régulateur à détente!

Jean Arnault is a man on a mission. Since taking the helm of Louis Vuitton Watches, he has re-invented the Tambour, brought to the forefront la Fabrique du Temps to position Louis Vuitton as a major player in the world of higher horology and now, with the inaugural Louis Vuitton Watch Prize for Independent Creatives, he is bringing some of the worlds best and brightest upcoming stars into the spotlight. And for Raúl Pagès, quite literally into the spotlight at the first biennial awards during a ceremony and cocktail reception at the Fondation Louis Vuitton last week in Paris.

Raúl Pagès and Jean Arnault

The Louis Vuitton Watch Prize for Independent Creatives is open to independent watch designers, artisans and entrepreneurs from all around the world. For its first edition, the Louis Vuitton Watch Prize for Independent Creatives drew nearly 1,000 submissions. This in itself is a major success for both Louis Vuitton and Jean Arnault as this shows that there is a major amount of independent watchmakers out there who are loving and honing their craft. So for those who say the art of watchmaking is dead or it’s outdated and stodgy, then I’d say this is evidence to the contrary.

Those submissions are judged and evaluated by a team of experts across a range of criteria including; Design & Aesthetics, Creativity & Audacity, Technical Innovation, Details & Finishings, and Complexity. Once narrowed down, the final round is judged by a group of industry experts which is led by Jury President Michael Tay, group managing director of The Hour Glass. The panel included Carole Forestier-Kasapi, GPHG winner and movements director at Tag Heuer; pre-eminent collector and author, Auro Montanari; Rexhep Rexhepi, independent Watchmaker and founder of Atelier Akrivia; and Jiaxian Su, an independent watch specialized journalist and founder of SJX Watches. Not bad company to keep if you ask us!

The panel from left to right: Auro Montanari, Carole Forestier-Kasapi, Jean Arnault, Raúl Pagès (Winner), Michael Tay, Rexhep Rexhepi & Jiaxian Su

For the very first time, the Louis Vuitton Watch Prize for Independent Creatives was awarded to Raúl Pagès. Raúl Pagès is a one-man outfit, based in Neuchâtel, Switzerland who makes around 4 pieces per year. Raúl does this whole process by hand – from design and development of the mechanism to manufacturing, assembly, and finishes. He started out as a restorer of high-end pieces before becoming an independent watchmaker in 2012. His winning timepiece? The RP1 – Régulateur à détente: A manual-winding wristwatch in stainless steel with a unique construction, featuring a caliber fitted with pivoted detent escapement.

The detent escapement is something not used much in modern watches due to most using a standard lever escapement – something you’d be familiar with when looking through the back of your watch and seeing the balance spring and escape wheel ticking away. Read our Watch Education Article on the escapement here. The detent escapement operates differently, having less contact with the escape wheel, needing less maintenance, and also providing more accuracy. Great, but with one small downside – it was more prone to shocks and easily unlocked when it shouldn’t. Not great in modern-day life or wrist watches for that matter! Head over Raúl Pagès site here to check out the watch in more detail and how he has designed the Pivot Detent Escapement.

The trophy was presented in its Louis Vuitton trophy trunk in its classic Monogram canvas, specially handcrafted in the Maison’s historic atelier in Asnières. A “V” was hand-painted in black and white on the trunk, a signature standing for “Victory travels in Louis Vuitton.” Very appropriate in this instance.

As the original trophy will be on display at La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton, Raúl Pagès also received a replica silver trophy which was engraved live during the ceremony. He will also receive a grant as well as one year mentorship by a dedicated team of experts (watchmakers, engineers, craftsmen) at La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton tailored to the needs of their project. This is something of an invaluable element of the prize as it will help not only Raúl to hone his craft, but also pass down valuable skills to the next generation of watchmakers.

From everyone here at Watch Advice, a big heartleft congratulations to Raúl Pagès on his win and Jean Arnault and Louis Vuitton on this initiative!

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