In a dazzling ceremony last night at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, Louis Vuitton revealed Raúl Pagès as the triumphant recipient of the inaugural Louis Vuitton Watch Prize for Independent Creatives, solidifying his status among the vanguard of independent watchmakers.
Hailing from Neuchâtel, Switzerland, and renowned globally for his captivating ‘Tortue’ automaton, Pagès transitioned from a restorer of horological masterpieces to an independent watchmaker in 2012. The prize underscores innovation, forward-thinking, and the exceptional horological prowess exhibited by Pagès in his craft.
A devoted adherent of the ‘George Daniels Method,’ outlined in the horological bible Watchmaking, Pagès painstakingly makes around four timepieces each year entirely by hand. The winning masterpiece, his RP1 – Régulateur à détente, is a steel, manual-winding wristwatch featuring a distinctive construction and a calibre equipped with a pivoted detent escapement.
Expressing his gratitude upon receiving the accolade, Pagès declared, “Being honoured by the jury of the Louis Vuitton Watch Prize for Independent Creatives is the best possible recognition of my work as an independent watchmaker”.
The brainchild of Jean Arnault, director of watches at the house, the prize signifies a commitment to excellence in watchmaking and craftsmanship. Beyond celebrating creative brilliance, Arnault envisions the award as an inspirational beacon for future generations of watchmakers.
Attracting nearly 1,000 submissions from independent watch designers, artisans, and entrepreneurs worldwide, the first edition of the Louis Vuitton Watch Prize for Independent Creatives enlisted an international committee of watch experts for evaluation. Criteria included Design & Aesthetics, Creativity & Audacity, Technical Innovation, Details & Finishings, and Complexity.
The esteemed jury, led by Michael Tay, president of the jury and group managing director of The Hour Glass in Singapore, included luminaries such as Carole Forestier-Kasapi movement director at TAG Heuer, collector Auro Montanari (a.k.a. John Goldberger), independent watchmaker Rexhep Rexhepi, and Jiaxian Su, founder of SJX Watches.
Pagès’ triumph was commemorated with a graceful, spiral-shaped silver trophy inspired by a balance wheel. The trophy, engraved with his name, was presented in a Louis Vuitton trophy trunk adorned with Monogram canvas, crafted in the maison’s historic atelier in Asnières. A hand-painted “V” on the trunk symbolises “Victory travels in Louis Vuitton”.
While the original trophy finds its place at La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton, Pagès was also presented with a live-engraved replica during the ceremony. Beyond the trophy, he gains access to a mentorship programme by La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton.
Louis Vuitton took control of La Fabrique du Temps in 2014, acquiring the skills of master watchmakers Michel Navas and Enrico Barbasini, as well as a cutting-edge facility in Meyrin, Switzerland, spanning 4,000 square meters.
Through the mentorship programme, Pagès will have access to tailored guidance from a dedicated team of experts, including watchmakers, engineers, and craftsmen, fostering a unique opportunity to blend creativity with commercial success.