The Louis Vuitton Watch Prize for Independent Creatives announced its first winner yesterday, on February 6, 2024, with Raúl Pagès and his RP1 – Régulateur à détente winning the inaugural holding of the competition. Raúl Pagès received a silver spiral trophy inspired by a balance wheel – the essential element for the precision of a timepiece. According to Louis Vuitton, the trophy is a metaphor for the rise of independent watchmaking.
Emerging triumphant: Winner Raúl Pagès
Raúl Pagès, who lives in a small village in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, obtained his diploma as a watchmaker-restorer for antique watches in 2005, and his diploma as a designer of watch complications at the CIFOM in Le Locle in 2006. In 2012, Pagès finally set up his own business to manufacture the 352 components of his first creation, the ‘Tortoise’ automaton, which moves using a mechanism similar to a watch movement. With this unique piece, he revived the forgotten tradition of high-quality automata.
Building on this experience, he began producing his first timepiece, the ‘Soberly Onyx’, a limited edition of 10 pieces, in 2016. By making his own balance and bridge by hand, Raúl Pagès rediscovered the elegance of the large balances found in high-end pocket watches from the 19th century. Today, he creates around four timepieces a year, which he produces entirely by hand, from the design and development of the mechanism to the manufacture, assembly and finishing.
All of these creations laid the foundation for his now award-winning design: the RP1 – Régulateur à détente. This is a manual-winding wristwatch made of stainless steel with a unique construction, and equipped with a calibre with a rotating detent escapement. “To be honoured by the jury of the Louis Vuitton Watch Prize for Independent Watchmakers is the greatest possible recognition for my work as an independent watchmaker,” professed winner Pagès.
The Louis Vuitton Watch Prize for Independent Creatives
The Louis Vuitton Watch Prize for Independent Creatives, which will be awarded every two years from now on, recognizes innovation, daring and savoir-faire to promote and support independent watchmaking. It also embodies LVMH and Jean Arnault’s ambition to further expand their influence on the watch industry. The Louis Vuitton Watch Prize for Independent Creatives is open to independent watch designers, artisans and entrepreneurs from around the world.
Ahead of the inaugural competition, the Louis Vuitton Watch Prize for Independent Creatives received around 1,000 entries. The creations are judged by an international committee of watch experts made up of retailers, collectors, specialist journalists, artists, artisans, designers and other watch enthusiasts. Their assessments were based on five key criteria: Design and Aesthetics, Creativity and Sound, Technical Innovation, Details and Workmanship, and Complexity. The final round of adjudicating was conducted by five members of the committee, who were elected by their peers. Led by jury president Michael Tay, managing director of The Hour Glass, the jury included Carole Forestier-Kasapi, Movements Director at TAG Heuer, Auro Montanari, collector and author, Rexhep Rexhepi, independent watchmaker and founder of Akrivia, and Jiaxian Su, specialized watch journalist and founder of SJX-Watches.