In the event you observe the world of unbiased watchmaking, by now you’ve nearly actually heard of watchmaker Rexhep Rexhepi and his Akrivia watches. Since arriving on the scene in 2012 with its first tourbillon-based watch, Akrivia has continued to thrill with a sequence of latest introductions, most not too long ago together with its first non-tourbillon watch, the AK-06 that made its debut at Baselworld 2017.
For such a small and comparatively new enterprise, the excitement round Akrivia has been outstanding, and the watches are fairly particular, too.
Nevertheless, the world of unbiased watchmaking is a troublesome place to make a dwelling (see Why Independents Battle), and there’s no scarcity of sensible unbiased minds on the market relative to the variety of seemingly consumers for his or her extremely specialised watches.
So, why would possibly Akrivia transfer to the fore?
It’s all in regards to the product
Years in the past, the famous advertising channels skilled Professor Lou Stern confided in me his three secrets and techniques of distribution channel technique: “Product, product, and product!”
The premise, in fact, is that should you’re promoting one thing nice, getting the eye of distributors and retailers and pull-through from enthusiastic shoppers turns into a lot simpler.
Rexhepi and Akrivia have delivered on the product entrance in a wide range of methods.
No small plans: From the very starting, Akrivia’s watches have featured complicated mechanisms reminiscent of tourbillons on the core of its first 5 fashions and extra problems together with leaping hours, chronographs, and chiming hours amongst others.
Considerate migration: Akrivia’s first fashions had been primarily based on a pre-existing tourbillon caliber from (now defunct) BNB Idea; the truth is, the muse of the preliminary tourbillon chronograph was an ébauche additionally utilized in watches from Hublot, amongst others.
To that start line, nonetheless, Akrivia added its personal worth, re-working the motion and including chic ending and styling that to me is harking back to Kari Voutilainen’s use of calibers, together with the Peseux 260, in his early items.
After a number of fashions primarily based on the tourbillon structure, in its fifth yr Akrivia has now taken the large step of introducing its personal internally developed motion with the dramatic AK-06.
Well-known for ending: Whereas a lot of independents are recognized for his or her wonderful ending work, Rexhepi has raised the ante nearly to the extent of a dare by designing his actions to require dozens – and in some circumstances greater than fifty – sharply completed inner angles on the motion bridges and plates.
Akrivia’s anglage is finished in rounded bombé model, requiring extra talent and time, and the dial sides of his watches function a dizzying number of ending options together with matte, extremely polished, and hammered surfaces in numerous colours in addition to black sprucing and gorgeously blued numerals.
On the similar time, there’s sufficient “imperfect perfection” in parts such because the engraved inscriptions to make it apparent that these watches are clearly the product of laborious hand-working.
Distinctiveness and consistency: It’s straightforward to acknowledge an Akrivia watch whenever you see one, and it’s not simply the distinctively formed case that provides it away. As an example, in terms of motion structure Rexhepi makes use of a constant mechanical design language that relies upon closely on symmetry and using signature parts reminiscent of an “epicentric” and extremely seen middle wheel.
With maybe one exception that I’ll talk about under, Akrivia’s design guidelines aren’t a straightjacket: I’ve been happy to see a wide range of hand shapes, as an illustration, together with each broad and nearly needle-thin variants on hour and minute arms.
Inventiveness: The watches are simply darned intelligent! This yr’s AK-06 (my high watch decide at Baselworld 2017) would possibly appear to be “simply” a three-hand watch, however the dial-side energy reserve incorporates a novel development that features two-toothed racks and counter-rotating indicators, and the motion additionally incorporates a zero-reset mechanism for the small seconds within the type of a heart-shaped cam seen on the middle of the seconds subdial within the picture under.
It’s all in regards to the individuals
For me, it’s usually true that the watch world is about its individuals, and doubly so once we are speaking in regards to the independents, the place the bodily merchandise very straight replicate the experiences, views, and personalities of their makers.
On the subject of expertise, Rexhepi actually has the wanted pedigree, starting with an apprenticeship at Patek Philippe and together with stops alongside the way in which at BNB Idea and F.P. Journe earlier than beginning up Akrivia.
And his brother and colleague Xhevdet apprenticed at Patek Philippe as nicely.
The brothers even have youth on their facet, and as could be seen of their designs in addition they carry a youthful and refreshing perspective to observe aesthetics.
And so far as I can inform, there’s no scarcity of dedication and plain outdated laborious work, as Xhevdet’s on-line feeds specifically appear to function lots of late-night and weekend workshop photographs!
It’s all in regards to the promotion
Talking of on-line feeds, one factor that has clearly helped to raise Akrivia above the muddle is using a number of sorts of promotion.
On-line presence: On the far excessive, whereas I’ve handled some independents who’ve despatched me precisely zero in-progress pictures through the manufacturing of watches that I’ve commissioned, against this the Akrivia group appears to have a superb understanding of the will of right this moment’s collectors to have behind-the-scenes entry to the interior workings of their workshop in addition to a gradual stream of Instagram and Fb posts of accomplished eye sweet.
In-person accessibility: Not like most independents, Akrivia has its workshop within the coronary heart of Geneva and eagerly greets guests. Once I’ve been there, the go to has prominently featured demonstrations of methods like black sprucing and flame bluing in addition to alternatives to see the watchmakers’ ongoing work and deal with a number of completed items.
And, in fact, on the finish of any go to there’s all the time the group picture of the “distinguished guests” for on-line posting, linking the bodily and digital promotional worlds.
Patronage and affect: Whereas Akrivia doesn’t intrude on the privateness of its consumers in its promotional supplies, it’s well-known within the collector group that a lot of influential indie collectors have purchased the micro model’s timepieces; that’s the type of promotion that may’t be purchased, however is value its weight in gold.
So what may probably go flawed?
Akrivia has included some fairly non-traditional parts in its success method so far, and whereas it appears to be working up to now, there are maybe a number of clouds on the horizon.
Dwell by the promotion, die by the promotion: I believe that it’s tremendous that Akrivia is taking a twenty-first-century strategy to advertising consciousness, however notably in terms of extra “mature” collectors, what one particular person would possibly see as a contemporary and clear strategy could be seen by others as in-your-face pushiness.
As an example, I do know one famous collector who was contemplating a fee with Akrivia however felt he was being “bought” too aggressively and finally selected an alternative choice.
And, whereas the Akrivia group does an ideal job of staying present on social media, different on-line instruments appear to undergo a bit: as an illustration, whereas the AkriviA web site incorporates a picture of yours actually with pals taken throughout our go to in 2016, there may be nonetheless no info there about this yr’s AK-06.
Dwell by the case, die by the case: Earlier, I discussed that Akrivia’s design codes don’t appear to be a straightjacket. One exception to that rule for me could be the design of their circumstances, which one can select to see as both refreshingly trendy or overly sporty.
I do know that it’s a troublesome line to stroll to be sufficiently versatile whereas avoiding being all issues to all individuals; on the similar time, even makers like Kari Voutilainen, who is thought for his traditional teardrop-lugged circumstances, have every now and then tried different shapes (as within the Voutilainen Caliber 27).
Levels of separation: In some ways, Rexhepi and Akrivia are standing aside from the group, and for the lifetime of me I’m not fairly sure whether or not that’s an excellent technique or a doubtlessly limiting tactic.
In my coronary heart of hearts I want that Rexhepi would take part extra straight in the neighborhood of unbiased watchmakers, however with actions reminiscent of finding on the Ramada quite than Les Ateliers at Baselworld and even using Akrivia as a model identification quite than establishing an eponymous model, he appears to have chosen an “unbiased unbiased” path.
Crucial mass: As I discussed above, a lot of influential collectors have hopped onto the Akrivia bandwagon; however over time will the model cross the tipping level at which demand takes off and collectors aren’t involved about “getting harm” on watches that vary in retail worth from about $80,000 to greater than $200,000?
I’ll be fascinated to see how the story unfolds whether or not Akrivia builds the muse of loyal collectors and repeat consumers that it’ll require to satisfy the long-term potential of its sensible watches and their equally sensible makers.
For extra info, please go to www.akrivia.com.
Fast Info Akrivia AK-06
Case: 41 x 9.9 mm, out there in stainless-steel, titanium, 5N pink gold, or platinum
Dial: numerous dial finishes and colours out there
Motion: manually wound Caliber AK-06; diameter 30.0 mm; hacking seconds and nil reset; Breguet overcoil; 18,000 vph, 100-hour energy reserve
Features: hours, minutes; subsidiary seconds; energy reserve indicator
Value: 79,000 Swiss francs (metal) to 91,000 Swiss francs (titanium)
* This story was initially posted on June 17, 2017 at A Collector’s View: Is Akrivia Certain For Glory?