Czapek Genève. Ever heard of it? Put very simply, it is a haute horology maison with an incredible history,
Not many people know the watchmaker, let alone the fact that its founder, Franciszek Czapek, has strong personal and professional ties to Patek Philippe. In fact, on the 1st of May, 1839, after having emigrated from Poland, Czapek and his watchmaking partner, Antoine Norbert de Patek, founded the “Patek, Czapek & Cie.” pocket watch company.
Their joint venture was – in the big picture – rather shortlived, as after 6 years, in 1845, the two parted ways due to professional differences. However, despite their separation, both gentlemen independently pursued their watchmaking careers, founding Patek & Co. and Czapek & Co. Whilst Patek’s work, partnering with Adrien Philippe went on to become the most prestigious watchmaking company of all time, Czapek & Co. shut its doors in 1869.
Following a successful crowdfunding campaign in 2012, the Czapek watchmaking company was reborn after a 143 year hiatus. Leading the charge of this renaissance were Xavier de Roquemaurel, Harry Guhl and Sébastien Follonier.
These guys wasted no time and got straight to work. It didn’t take long for them to prove to the world just how much potential this “second coming” of Czapek had, because in 2016, Czapek & Cie won the “Public Prize” at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) – undoubtedly the most important ceremony in the watch world – with their “Quai des Bergues n. 33bis”.
The award-winning watch is the very embodiment of elegance: a 42.5mm 5N rose gold case containing a beautifully decorated, manually wound 21,600 alt/h SXH1 movement. On the dial, the hours and minutes are marked by central hands; a small seconds subdial present at the 7:30 position; and another subdial at 4:30 displaying the power reserve and day of the week. Thanks to two winding mechanisms (see the photo below, right), this power reserve stands at a hugely impressive 168 hours.
One detail which we absolutely adore is the use of “Fleur de Lys” hands, which are reminiscent of Czapek’s earliest creations. Its MSRP was of CHF 29,800.
In the wake of this prestigious achievement, Czapek made a committment to releasing new models which, year upon year, were equipped with more complicated and well-decorated movements.
In 2017, Czapek announced their first ever Tourbillon: the limited edition “Place Vendôme”. But this wasn’t just any ordinary Tourbillon (even if such a thing exists!), because it presents plenty of other complications, too. Whilst its tourbillon sits at the 8 o’clock position, we can find the hours-minutes function and power reserve indicator up top at 12, a second time zone function at 4, and a day/night indicator at 6.
The Chronode co-developed manually wound SXH2 caliber operates at a frequency of 21,600 alt/h and boasts a 60 hour power reserve – an impressive figure considering all of the complications!
The list price could vary depending on the timepiece’s configuration. To give you an idea: the most “affordable” version (made in titanium) would set you back a cool CHF 88,000.
In 2018, Czapek launched a multi-configurable automatic chronograph: the “Faubourg de Cracovie”.
This model separates itself from the others mentioned in this article by way of its SXH3 automatic movement with a chronograph complication, operating at an ultra high frequency of 36,000 alt/h. One other salient point of this timepiece is its beautifully finished “guillochè” dial.
The price? CHF 28,000 – a small price to pay for such fine crafstmanship.
The intended use of the chronograph function brings us to Czapek’s next release. In May of 2020, the watchmaker showed its sporty side with the “Antarctique” collection. The brand’s CEO, Xavier de Roquemaurel revealed that the motivation behind this line was to “create a classy sports watch which can be worn everyday“. The 40.5mm steel case of the Antarctique is equipped with a micro-rotor driven movement (SXH5.01) with separated skeletonised black bridges.
Offered on an integrated metal bracelet or on leather or rubber straps, this is definitely Czapek’s most “simple” watch from a complication point of view, but also one of its best-looking and balanced.
The Czapek Antarctique retailed from CHF 18,750.
That brings us to Czapek’s latest flagship release: the 2021 Antarctique rattrappante.
If you’re a fan of technical perfection (or, even if you’re not!), this watch represents the summit of mechanical creativity.
The Antarctique rattrappante, sporting a 42.5mm case, is powered by the innovative SXH6 caliber equipped with a rattrapante monopusher chronograph module and a 5N rose gold rotor. This 49-jewel, 292-component movement also features a variable inertia balance wheel which operates at 28,800 alt/h with a power reserve of 60 hours.
The movement’s bridges, as well as other various chronograph components, are micro-sandblasted and then hand polished, giving a truly unique finish. If you look at it, you can’t quite make out a whole physical dial: that’s because the majority of it (apart from elements such as the chronograph subdials) are skeletonised.
Only 77 of these Czapeks are to be made, each of them offered on an integrated metal bracelet or a leather or rubber strap. Each of them retail for CHF 46,000.
Despite its turbulent beginnings nearly 200 years ago, the second coming of Czapek is characterised by hard innovative work, creativity, and a well defined vision with excellent management. And with these valuable assets, the maison has been able to produce some incredibly fine, award-winning timepieces, with their latest hyper-technical release reaffirming their position amongst watchmaking legends.
Translated by: Patrick R.