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Young Man Of Steel: Why AkriviA’s Founding Prodigy Is Yardstick For Future Watchmaking Talent

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When a master watchmaker as vaunted as Kari Voutilainen says pay attention, you darned-well pay attention. So when he cited Rexhep Rexhepi as the future of independent haute horlogerie, all eyes turned on him and his brand, AkriviA.

I remember in the “insider circle”, it was a name on everyone’s lips. Immediately, we hardly needed Kari to explain – this charming, not to mention dashing young Kosovan is clearly a virtuoso talent and plenty of sparkle in the industry. The design, complexity and flawless execution of his tourbillons display the sort of maturity that simply cannot be bought or affected.

Of course, there’s plenty of talent out there, but it really isn’t every day you find a 29 year-old already hitting so many highs with his art, while running a rapidly expanding business to boot. As a millennial entrepreneur, you can keep your Silicon Valley tech pioneers or fashion rebels; here is ambition and achievement combined with that rare thing: passionate, functional genius.

Truth is, Rexhepi – who clearly possesses that certain “X factor” no matter what – has been at it for longer than you’d expect. And his CV reads like a Who’s Who of hardcore horology.

AKRIVIA> SHOP AkriviA Tourbillon Monopusher Chronograph

Straight away, the first alma mater he could chalk up was nothing less than Patek Philippe, joining as apprentice at the tender age of 14. In his words, “I remember that my best experience was in the quality control when I discovered for the first time the tourbillon,” he says, referring to the mesmerising, tumbling carriage mechanism that evens-out gravity’s effect on the ticking balance wheel, invented by Breguet over 200 years ago.

At that moment I knew I would make my own tourbillon.

Still barely out of short trousers, he was managing a 10-strong complications workshop at high-concept hothouse BNB Concept before being hired as watchmaker for modern-day Breguet, François-Paul Journe. For a while, he was even working with fellow SKOLORR talent Ludovic Ballouard on Journe’s revolutionary chiming watches.

In 2012, it was time to go it alone, still only in his mid-twenties. Launching AkriviA (the name means “precision” in ancient Greek (ακρίβεια)) Rexhepi’s hand-crafted tourbillons, looking more like an elaborate contraption from the cover of a Jules Verne novel than a watch, garnered immediate attention and praise from the notoriously exacting collector community.

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Within just two years, AkriviA’s atelier had already outgrown its loft space, and Rexhepi upped sticks for a massive 250 square metre space near central Geneva, which doubles as a showroom and boutique as well as a bright and spacious workshop. It now houses a five-strong team, including a second Rexhepi – his younger brother.

The collection has expanded too, into a single-pusher chronograph, a digital hour that chimes every time it jumps, a regulator… All bestowed with his trademark tourbillon cage, its hair-thin metalwork painstakingly hand polished. The marvel of it all, every AkriviA is composed of parts and components all made in-house, by a single watchmaker who dedicates months of his life solely to craft just one watch.

It all goes to show what can be achieved when you find your calling early in life, then take that bull by its horns almost immediately. It’s a wellworn cliché to say this is only the start, but it really is for Rexhep; and given how far he has already come, that other cliché about the sky being the limit seems almost inadequate.

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Image3 via WatchAnish
Image4 via Quill & Pad