The Akrivia AK-06

The Akrivia AK-06

| 04.11.24



While for many years the household watch names — Patek Philippe, Rolex, Audemars Piguet, etc — have dominated the discussion in the luxury space, in recent times, the industry has witnessed a surge in interest in small independent manufacturers. As more and more brands in the industry and beyond have mass produced their products, many have favored the small-output, artisanal quality of works from brands like Akrivia. Today, we are taking a closer look at one such example, a watch that thrives in the fine details, the AK-06.


Rexhep Rexhepi at work. - (Image by The Hour Glass)

In a centuries-old industry, Akrivia is a newcomer on the block. Like many independents, Akrivia was founded in just the last 10 years (2012 to be exact). Its visionary, Rexhep Rexhepi is the watch nerd’s ultimate watchmaker. Rexhepi began building movements modestly in his apartment, but has since received world renown for his unique movement architectures. Each year, the Akrivia brand makes about 40 watches for the select, lucky few. Each is the unique hand work of expert craftsmen and reflects the specific stylistic preferences of the maker. This type of craft involvement you don’t often find in the watch industry.

In addition to making new movement layouts himself, Rexhepi uses watch movement construction as its own design canvas. He is known for building movements that are perfectly balanced coupled with an exceptional level of detail to include in the movement design stage. Whereas many brands focus on mechanical efficiency, Rexhepi balances this priority with aesthetic layouts in a really unique way. In an industry where there are new independent brands popping up seemingly on the daily, this unique element allows Akrivia and Rexhepi to stand out amongst their horological peers.

Akrivia AK-06 - IN THE SHOP

The AK-06, specifically, was introduced in 2017, and was Akrivia’s simplest watch to date. Every piece the brand had presented prior had a tourbillon in addition to the time displays and other complications. Conversely, the AK-06 was ostensibly a time only watch with no further complication. In actuality, this piece is outfitted with a number of unique added features. For example, the watch flaunts a stop second zero reset that sends the seconds hand back to 0 when setting the time on the watch. This makes time setting extremely accurate. More on this later.

Simple, Yet Detailed

Akrivia AK-06 - IN THE SHOP

Fundamentally, this watch’s parts alone could make for a very boring piece. Time, sub-seconds, and power reserve. There’s nothing particularly new here. And yet, Akrivia’s execution is extremely distinctive. I would wager that the best way to judge a brand is to see how that maker simplifies its design language as it simplifies the complication. If you can tell the maker of a time only watch removing the name from the dial, it’s an indication the brand has built a design ethos that is truly impressive. In the case of the AK-06, both the dial and the movement are visibly Akrivia, and visibly the outgrowth of Rexhep Rexhepi’s design genius.

What specifically is so special about Akrivia watches and the AK-06?

The Akrivia brand is largely committed to handwork. Now, by handwork, we don’t just mean replacing machine finishing with hand processes, but also adding additional finishing techniques you won't find executed on machine made watches at all. Looking at the dial, for example, the exposed movement bridges have been hand hammered. While there are a few dials that have done this in the industry (for example, the Tuscan dials from Audemars Piguet, or the frosted cases and bracelets pioneered by the same brand), these are almost always executed by hand. Whereas many brands seeking to deliver a handmade product just replace machines with handwork, Akrivia actually looks for the unique finishes that are hallmarks of handmade products and incorporates them into its pieces. This gives the watch an immediately bespoke, boutique feel.

This phenomenon is extended to the other supports and structures of the movement. Many have been heavily rounded and hand polished to a mirror shine. It’s obviously not done by a machine, and Akrivia expertly puts that on display wherever possible. When you look at the numbers and indices, these also have a hand-drawn kind of feel to them. It’s really hard to convey the vibe a watch with these types of details emanates, but suffice it to say the watch is extremely warm and inviting on the wrist. It doesn’t have the clinical precision of more mass produced watches, but as a result, the watch has a glow of artisanship and craft that those other more precisely machined pieces will never own.

The design also has included a number of practical luxuries, such as a heavily knurled, large, winding crown. This crown plays upon the type of engraving found on the hand hammered dial, but clearly was designed by someone who knows what it’s like to wind a watch. In short, the piece feels like it was designed by watch collectors for watch collectors with watch collectors’ preferences in mind. Well done Rexhep.

The next part of the design that feels like the perfect nod to nerdy collectors is the cushion case. Nowadays, we have seen collectors thirsting for something interesting in case shape. Tonneau shapes, bell shapes, flipping cases, etc, all have had a moment in the spotlight. Similarly, at Analog Shift, much to our delight, we have recently seen lots of interest in the avant garde designs of the past from the likes of Piaget. Akrivia could have let the dial and caseback steal the show. They could have stuck with a round watch. And the result would have been a super great watch. But instead, they went for it all and opted for a cushion case. This vintage-inspired, yet modernized design choice matches the rest of the piece’s feel really well and leaves just another spot for collectors to geek out (no judgment here, just do it in private).

Expanding a bit more on the details of the dial, this piece has an openworked movement, allowing full visibility of the keyless winding works, power reserve, and subsidiary seconds componentry. As mentioned earlier, it is all extremely artistically designed. The power reserve is nestled at 12, the subsidiary seconds at 6 and the time display as usual from the center of the dial. The case is executed in stainless steel and finished beautifully with contrasting satin and polished elements.

How about that caseback?

Rexhep Rexhepi is known for using movement layouts as a foundational facet of his design process. This is quite apparent on the AK-06, with its brilliantly symmetrical caseback.

This is one of the places the small production nature of Akrivia screams at you. The level of hand finishing that goes into the movement is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. Some of the thickest anglage, sharp, crisp internal corners, heavily rounded polished elements, and much, much more. This is not your typical movement finishing. Plus, the movement is a mirror in symmetry left and right. The balance wheel is countered by the going train, all of which are fully visible on the caseback. It’s a sight to behold and I only wish everyone would get to see it in person. If you’ve never experienced a movement of this kind in person, you have absolutely no basis for comparison. This is quite simply, a work of art.

Mechanically, this watch is no slouch either. A massive balance with Breguet overcoil, zero reset mechanism for setting the timepiece, and an astonishing 100 hour power reserve delivered from just one barrel. It’s nice to see that Akrivia considered both aesthetics and practicality, a balance that’s often a tug of war. When most brands make time-only movements, they opt for traditional layouts. It’s very cool to see a small brand put in the R&D necessary to contribute something novel and unprecedented. Well done Rexhep, yet again.

Unbridled Artistic Expression

The luxury of making only 40 watches a year is that as an artist, you are not beholden to anyone. Only 40 collectors need to appreciate your craft, eye, and visual preference. This means that independent makers like Akrivia are capable of actualizing their creative goals without concern about the approval or blessing of the general public. What results is a pure representation of Rexhep Rexhepi’s creative genius, funneled into a scarcely produced masterwork. This is the unique proposition an independent piece of Akrivia’s kind affords. Owning a watch like this is an investment, but it’s also a vote of respect for the creator and the artist behind the work.

AK-06 Hour Minute Second with stop balance, zero-reset and 100 hours of power reserve. - (Image by The Hour Glass)

On a different note, Rexhep Rexhepi is looking to retire the Akrivia name. This will likely result in a surge in interest for these rare pieces. Even as Rexhep Rexhepi continues to grow in fame and renown, the Akrivia supply will remain fixed in perpetuity. Getting involved with this brand before that actually occurs may be a good investment consideration. All that said, I sincerely hope that the person that purchases this piece respects more than just the investment potential of this notable watch. The Akrivia AK-06 deserves an owner that fully grasps the significance, beauty, and rarity of the watch, and one that will enjoy this piece in all its prominence. Well done Rexhep Rexhepi.