Watch enthusiasts might think the best of independent watchmaking is in the past, but when you see what the likes of Rexhep Rexhepi are creating, there’s hope that the future is even brighter. The latest timepieces that Rexhep Rexhepi has made are the twin versions of the Chronomètre Contemporain II (RRCC II), two simple looking watches made to a high standard rarely ever seen.
The Chronomètre Contemporain II actually made its debut as a unique piece created for the Only Watch 2021 charity auction, which went on to sell for a record CHF800,000 (AU$1,136,101). The pieces you’re looking at now are the first production versions of the young watchmaker’s second design, serving up a promising sequel to the 2018 original Chronomètre Contemporain that won the Men’s Watch Prize at the GPHG awards that year.
A version in platinum with a black dial is contrasted with the yellow gold and white dial version, both of which look similar to the original Chronomètre Contemporain, but have been refined and developed in nearly every aspect that sees the RRCC II as a totally different watch. In addition to a new case design that is thinner than its predecessor, and a pair of fired enamel dials, the RRCC II is powered by an all-new calibre that has been finished to near-perfection.
The cases of the RRCC II remain at 38mm in diameter but have been made slightly more wearable thanks to a new thickness of just 8.75 mm. The new design of the cases is overseen by the legendary case maker Jean-Pierre Hagmann, who once was responsible for creating the finest watch cases for Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet and many more before he retired. Hagmann, who is now 81 years old, was persuaded by Rexhepi to return to the workbench in 2019 and now oversees all of the cases that are manufactured in the workshop, using traditional handmade methods on antique machinery.
Both of the enamel dials are made from two pieces, with one making up the main dial and the other for the slightly sunken oversized sub-seconds dial. Once the two pieces of the dials are fused together, they have been delicately printed with the dial markings that appear to almost be floating above the surface of the enamel, adding depth to the overall visual impression.
Flip the watches over, and you’ll be greeted with a sapphire crystal exhibition caseback that perfectly showcases the RRCC02 calibre within, which is a new movement that features twin barrels and going trains, a deadbeat seconds mechanism that is driven independently and a hacking function. That means if you pull the crown out to set the time, the seconds hand will automatically stop and snap back to the 12 o’clock position, allowing you to set the time as accurately as possible.
While it’s a sophisticated movement, you’re almost unable to get to its functional aspects as the immaculately finished bridges and impressively symmetrical layout capture your entire attention. Honestly, just look at it.
These two new watches are exciting follow-ups to the original Chronomètre Contemporain, which continues to refine the traditional watchmaking aesthetic of Rexhep Rexhepi, but adds an entirely new movement into the mix. Just 50 pieces will be made in each precious metal of the Rexhep Rexhepi Chronomètre Contemporain II, with the price remaining “On Request,” meaning you should be thinking of at least six figures, not five.