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Czapek & Cie - A guilloché affair

Czapek & Cie A guilloché affair

Czapek & Cie. introduces a brand-new guilloché motif in its collection.

As the brand that succeeded in raising a million Swiss francs from an equity crowdfunding campaign to fund its launch in the highly competitive environment of luxury watchmaking, Czapek & Cie always seeks to be different. Its innovative financing model is an obvious example of this, as are the brand’s mechanical movements, and smaller details such as ornate Gold fleur de lys hands, secret signatures on enamel dials and a unique steel alloy all play their part in the brand’s distinctiveness.

So when it came to launching a new hand engine-turned dial in the collection, Czapek could not simply content itself with an off-the-shelf design, like the famous ‘Clous de Paris’ or the ‘Grain d’Orge’, it needed a genuinely new design, a “Czapek guilloché”. Once the decision had been taken (just after SalonQP 2015 in London), a lengthy design process started, which quickly led to over 20 different possible designs. Yet the decision-makers at the brand (Xavier de Roquemaurel, Harry Guhl and Sébastien Follonier) couldn’t find a consensus on a preference, nor a “wow effect”. As CEO Xavier de Roquemaurel explained to WorldTempus, “There is a fine line between good and excellent, and there is no measurement instrument for beauty, so if one of us isn’t convinced by a design direction, then we simply halt the project and rework, in an iterative manner. Plus, we always have a hidden François Czapek watching over us in the room. Our vision is to reinterpret his style in a modern way, as if he was still alive.”

After leaving the designs aside for a while, the team came to realise that the problem was not necessarily with the guilloché designs themselves but with the composition of the dial as a whole. Instead of subdividing the dial into zones, the team decided to cover the entire dial with the same guilloché pattern and to reproduce a domed shape as in their enamel dial. This set them on a course to evaluate 65 different patterns that could be created using the technique of hand engine turning, before agreeing on the distinctive “ricochet guillochage” pattern, inspired by the idea of a stone skipping challenge, the art of throwing a flat stone across water in such a way that it bounces off the surface.
The “ricochet” guilloche selected by the team had two different focal points - even though METALEM, their partner for the manufacturing, thought it would be impossible to achieve this effect in practice due to the “interferences of the riddles”. The final detail was a choice between pyramids or cubes for the tips of the engine-turned engraving that gives the dial its relief. The trio opted for the pyramids.

A guilloché affair

Quai des Bergues Guilloché Aqua Blue © Czapek & Cie

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After months of work, the team were flabbergasted to discover that the brand’s spiritus rector, François Czapek, had already worked in that direction: the design, which they have since trademarked for use with the Czapek & Cie.’s distinctive double counters, was very similar to an engine-turning pattern that had been used by François Czapek in the past (see photo). It’s not the first uncanny coincidence, since the contemporary logo designed for the relaunched Czapek brand also bore a strong similarity to the one used by François Czapek, which was only discovered by the historian Pierre-Yves Donzé long after this new logo had been registered.

A guilloché affair

A fine and rare 18K gold half-hunter case keywound pocket chronometer © Czapek & Cie

The design is not the only unique thing about Czapek’s new guilloché, however, since the dials that use it will bear the signature “Metalem Suisse Guilloché Main” (hand engine-turned by Metalem), referring to the specialist engine turners at Metalem and another example of Czapek’s explicit tributes to its partners, who are carefully picked from among the best in the watch industry.

Czapek’s first guilloché dials will be available in two colours: Aqua Blue and Sea Salt Grey. On the Aqua Blue version the colour hue changes with the reflection of light, allowing aesthetics to get the upper hand over the technical finish of the guilloché. The Sea Salt Grey version, on the other hand, shows off the detail of the guilloché and the distinctive angle of depth of the grooves that can only be achieved by hand turning on a rose engine.

The models with the new guilloché dials will cost the same as those with the grand feu enamel dial, even though the guilloché main version costs slightly more to manufacture. They will retail at 25,900 Swiss francs in gold and 14,800 in stainless steel. Collectors can be reassured by the fact that horological bellwether Laurent Picciotto of Chronopassion was the first to order one of these new Czapek & Cie. watches, opting for the Sea Salt Grey guilloché dial.

Lecture 1 Comment(s)

18 September 2017
a Very nice model. the acqua-blue dial tone is especially elegant.

The brand

Czapek & Cie. harks back to the origins of one of the watch industry’s most prestigious names, which was born from the watchmaking skills of two Polish émigrés who sought refuge in Switzerland after Poland’s November uprising. 

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