Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Obsessive Compulsive Drive - Defining Quality of AkriviA

It has been awhile since I posted - much of my time has been busy with work. But when you meet someone like Rexhep Rexhepi of the brand AkriviA, I had to find time to share his work.

The brand AkriviA was launched in 2012 and in the past 5 years, have developed and released 6 calibers! What a feat coming from a young but very talented watchmaker Rexhep Rexhepi. Hailing originally from Kosovo, Rexhep started his apprenticeship with Patek Philippe at the ripe young age of 14. Working in the manufacture 2 days a week and back to school for three, Rexhep spent a good 5 years at Patek before moving on to FP Journe and finally establishing his own brand at the age of 25. This is Rexhep with three of his timepieces and behind him, Ms Naomi Barokas, Sales & Marketing Director of AkriviA.

His first caliber, the AK-01 is a Tourbillon Chronograph Monopusher launched in 2012. I shall be doing a separate post on that piece as I think it deserves a separate post by itself. But what the world of horology took notice was the obsession of Rexhep with the level of finishing not seen in many haute horology timepieces. First up, the trio of timepieces on display...

From left to right - the Tourbillon Regulateur, the Tourbillon Chronograph Monopusher and the latest release, the AK-06. So what's so special about the AK-06? Well, for one, this is the first non-Tourbillon timepiece in the collection. Insane!

For most brands starting out, they typically start with something simple but for Rexhep and AkriviA, the firs thas to grab attention and what a way to start the brand - with a Tourbillon Chronograph Monopusher! But I digress... Here, the AK-06 is no slouch either.

The AK-06 has an open architecture - why keep the beauty at the back right? Featured here is the prototype belonging to Rexhep (numbered 00) and the visual treat gets one all excited. So you examine the dial side - a Power Reserve indicator at the 12 and the winding mechanism in full view. The main idea of this timepiece is to allow the owner to experience bringing the timepiece to life - you get to see the winding stem connect with the main barrel and the power reserve disc turning to the 100 mark indicating the full 100 hours of power reserve.

What is also different is the way the power reserve indicator works. Traditionally, a hand will move up and down (or left to right) the scale. But with the AK-06, the "indicator" is fixed and the disc rotates when wound. But the winner for me has to be the Zero Reset function. How many timepieces comes with the Zero Reset? A handful at most. So not only should a timepiece look good, it must also be accurate - and to do that, Rexhep incorporated a hacking second with a Zero Reset. I could never understand why so many brands give this one a skip - as far as I know, only three other houses have this feature of a Zero Reset. I find is a very useful feature - remember how you have to wait till the seconds hand reaches 60 and then you pull the crown? Well, with the Zero Reset, the seconds hand immediately returns to the zero position when the crown is pulled. I find this feature even more important than many other features found in many other watches.

What is clear about the work of Rexhep is the level of finishing on his timepieces. He is just so obsessed about finishing - I say obsessed because he is just overly passionate about hand finishing all the parts - those that you can see and also those that you can't. What he wants you (the owner) to know is that his heart and soul has gone into making the timepiece YOUR timepiece. No two pieces are alike - just because they are hand finished. Lookalike, yes. But identical, no.

The movement is designed in-house and it is the first non-Tourbillon movement in the stable. Rexhep likes things symmetrical and that is why his movements and his timepieces have not only be functional but also aesthetically pleasing. Take a look at the movement... The AK-06 caliber beats at a very traditional 18,000 vph, finished with the Côtes de Genève ribbing and hand finished using black polish and anglage techniques.

Even the name AkriviA is spelt with two capital As - in front and at the back. AkriviA as explained by Rexhep means precision in Greek. But a timepiece is cannot just be precise. It has to be aesthetically beautiful too. Hence the need for black polishing and anglage on all the parts you can (and cannot) see. There is a huge difference between a hand finished screw and a mass produced one and Rexhep is anal about his being all hand finished. Every angle, every bridge is hand finished to the highest standard - polished to a gloss!

I have to say that his attention to details goes even to the straps - his pieces comes with quick release so that changing strap becomes easy - no need for any tools. And the size? The timepiece is 41mm and wears very well even for a puny wrist like mine.

This example is in steel and extremely light. I thought it was titanium but Rexhep told me this is steel. He tells me that many of his customers have chosen steel instead of any other precious metal - so he works with steel, gold and platinum for his cases.

AkriviA's small production numbers is largely due to Rexhep's insistence on the level of finishing he wants in every timepiece. He makes 25 pieces per year and with three watchmakers, there is only that many you can churn out if you want to keep the quality. Black polishing is a tough tough technique - one screw can take between one to fifteen minutes depending on the size of the screw and the surface to be polished. Even the main dial is also black polished to a mirror shine and then heated to get the blue hue.

All said, I'm all impressed with AkriviA. If there is one brand to get me all worked up on a weekday night, AkriviA is it!

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