PARIS — Swiss-Spanish watchmaker Raúl Pagès scooped up the inaugural edition of the Louis Vuitton Watch Prize for Independent Creatives.
He was revealed as the winner at an award ceremony on Monday evening at the Louis Vuitton Foundation.
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Pagès was among the five finalists selected from some 1,000 entries hailing from Japan, Australia, Finland, the U.S. and Canada in addition to France and Switzerland, the best-known watchmaking lands.
Louis Vuitton director of watches Jean Arnault said the final five had shown “watchmaking is a dynamic and accessible place” and that this would allow the industry to grow in a healthy way.
The other finalists of the edition were Andreas Strehler and Enrico Santoni; John-Mikaël Flaux; Simon Brette, and Gaël Petermann and Florian Bédat of Petermann Bédat. Their creations ranged from wristwatches to a desk clock controlled by a pocket watch and a bee-shaped automata.
“You guys will push the big players into areas of watchmaking that you’ve never seen before, in places and really interesting pockets of technical craftsmanship they never even imagined,” Arnault continued. “In your hands, the future of independent watchmaking is brighter than ever.”
Based in the village of Les Brenets neighboring the watchmaking epicenter of La-Chaux-de-Fond, Pagès got his start in the industry as a restorer of high-end and collectible horological creations. He then worked in the restoration workshops of Parmigiani Fleurier and Patek Philippe before launching his eponymous label in 2012.
He wowed the jury with the RP1 wristwatch, which embarks a manual-wind caliber with a pivoted detent escapement, a mechanism traditionally used in marine chronometers and invented in the 18th century.
The 38.5mm RP1 timepiece also features a regulator display where hours, minutes and seconds are separated on the light gray and blue dial.
An emotional Pagès touched the hearts of an audience that included chairman and chief executive officer of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton Bernard Arnault by declaring his love for his wife, International Watchmaking Museum vice curator Nathalie Marielloni, thanking her for giving him confidence in himself.
In addition to a spiral-shaped trophy housed in a custom Vuitton trunk that had the evening’s host Wei Koh joking this gong was better than the FIFA World Cup soccer and Ellis Webb rugby trophies, Pagès will receive a 150,000 euro purse and a year’s mentorship from La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton.
Asked earlier what he planned to do if he won, Pagès said these would be crucial in advancing his next project, the recently completed RP2 model that he teased as “a wristwatch with a totally new movement.”
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