The 20 Semi-Finalists and my 5 Predicted Finalists of the 2023 Louis Vuitton Watch Prize for Creative Independents
by Ian Skellern
When Louis Vuitton announces the Watch Prize for Creative Independents late last year, I thought that’s fantastic, but I wish it was launched 20 years ago when independent watchmakers were much less appreciated.
The aim of the award is a noble one: the goal of fostering creativity and innovation, while honoring the art of watchmaking. It is to reward bold visions and independent thinking, and honor those who challenge the present and defy the boundaries of time.
“Through this initiative, La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton intends to celebrate the creative talent, savoir-faire, and audacity of the independent watchmaking industry, to encourage artisans and entrepreneurs, and accompany future generations.”
Summarizing the above, the aims of the prize are to celebrate the creative talent of independent watchmakers, to foster creativity, and to encourage independents. That would indicate the prize would go to the best watch – in the eyes of the jury- by an independent.
But then there’s the prize itself: a 150,00 euro grant plus a one-year mentorship by La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton, tailored specifically to their creative endeavor. The winner will have the support of a dedicated team assisting in things like communication, copyright and corporate legal aspects, marketing, industrial strategy, and financial brand management.
That prize appears indicate (to me anyway) that the aim isn’t simply to celebrate creative talent, but to help foster creative talent. That indicates to me that the prize is more likely to go to a relatively new independent watchmaker than a well established one, as while everyone is likely to appreciate and benefit from 150,000 euros, a dedicated mentorship team assisting in communication, copyright and corporate legal aspects, marketing, industrial strategy, and financial brand management, will have much more impact on fostering an independent just embarking on their journey rather than one that has already mastered most of the more administrative aspects of running a successful business.
The 20 semi-finalists are:
In my opinion, there are at least ten watches in the semi-finals that deserve to be in the top five finalists, so I’m going out on a limb here, but given that I think that the prize is likely to go not simply to the ‘best’ watch, but to who it will help the most, my prediction for the five finalists are: Vincent Deprez, Sarauer Horology, Khemea, Simon Brette, and Yosuke Sekiguchi.
Also strongly in the running for me are Theo Auffret, Ondřej Berkus, Felipe Pikullik, John-Mikaël Flaux, and Petermann Bédat.
I’ll stress again that I’m not predicting the finalists just on the quality of their watches, but also in how much the prize is likely to impact their future (fostering creativity and innovation).
If my predictions for the finalists are largely correct, i.e. indicating that the jury also takes into account the impact of the prize and not just the watchmaking itself, I think that future editions of this biennial (every two years) prize might be limited to watches/watchmakers that launched in the previous three to five years, rather than those who are already well established.
In December 2023, the jury will select the five finalists based on Design, Creativity, Innovation, Craftsmanship, and Technical complexity. We will then know more on just what the prize is aiming to do, i.e. how much weight will be giving to rewarding versus fostering independent talent?
For more information, please visit www.louisvuittonwatchprize.com/
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