Louis Vuitton announces their Watch Prize for Independent Creatives Louis Vuitton announces their Watch Prize for Independent Creatives

Louis Vuitton announces their Watch Prize for Independent Creatives

D.C. Hannay

In an initiative to foster the future growth of innovation in the watchmaking industry, Louis Vuitton has announced the inaugural Louis Vuitton Watch Prize for Independent Creatives. The competition (to be held every other year) seeks to nurture the future of innovation and creativity within the industry, as judged by a committee of 50 horological luminaries, including industry professionals, artisans, collectors and journalists. The winner receives a cash grant, as well as invaluable mentoring from La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton in all aspects of the industry, including copyright, legal considerations, financial management and marketing.

Louis Vuitton

Announced by Jean Arnault, the new Director of Watches at Louis Vuitton (and son of LVMH chairman and CEO Bernard Arnault), the initiative is designed to reward innovation and design, while honouring the craftsmanship of traditional watchmaking. Louis Vuitton is barrelling full steam ahead into watchmaking (they established their own manufacture back in 2002), and besides LV, the LVMH portfolio of watch brands includes Zenith, Bulgari and Hublot, among others. Although LVMH is certainly a deep-pocketed corporate benefactor,, the competition is focused on independent watchmaking, and overall growth within the industry.

Arnault states: “Watchmaking is not a dormant industry; it is not inaccessible. Young generations of watch enthusiasts are passionate and want to see new innovations on the market. That is why we want to create this initiative at La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton. This is a philanthropic and independent initiative to encourage watchmaking innovation, and reward the best ideas in term of technical innovation and avant-garde, but also the traditional savoir-faire.”

In order to be eligible, a candidate must have designed, created, and legally registered a timepiece or horological construction prior to July of 2023. Submissions can include concepts, drawings, and/or prototypes. A shortlist of 20 semi-finalists will be revealed that September, with five finalists announced in December. Five members of the judging committee will then judge the finalists on creativity, design, technical complexity, innovation, and craftsmanship. Final judging will take place in Paris in January 2024, and the winner announced at a special reception hosted by the brand.

Louis Vuitton

It would be easy to view the competition with a grain of salt as an exercise in corporate image-buffing, but with the emphasis on independent watchmaking (and the obvious passion brought to the enterprise by Arnault, along with the broad spectrum of adjudicators), I tend to take a less cynical view. Despite the growing popularity of mechanical watches, the facts don’t lie. Watchmakers are in short supply – certainly there aren’t enough to meet current demand – and truly innovative ones are even rarer. I say anything we as an industry can do to promote the art (and yes, it is an art form, as well as a commercial endeavor) is nothing but positive in my book.

Candidates can register online on the dedicated Louis Vuitton Watch Prize website, and submit their creative projects from January 2023 through the end of May 2023.