Czapek An Unseen Treasure To Benefit Those In Need
The Place Vendôme “Al Kanz” by Czapek & Cie. and Arab Watch Club will be auctioned by Christie’s to benefit the Emirates Foundation.
The world of luxury can often seem quite detached from the realities of everyday existence, although there exist numerous initiatives and charities that allow us to draw a connection between a life of privilege and those in need. Fine mechanical watchmaking is perceived as the domain of the wealthy, but it is fundamentally the practice of a traditional and historically essential craft rooted in observations of the natural world and its laws, which touch everyone at every level of society. One of the latest releases to represent the spirit of giving back is the Czapek & Cie. x Arab Watch Club Place Vendôme “Al Kanz” — a unique piece that will be auctioned by Christie’s in Geneva during the sale taking place from 5–19 November, with all proceeds to go towards the Emirates Foundation.
WorldTempus spoke with Czapek & Cie. CEO Xavier de Roquemaurel and Arab Watch Club founder and member of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève Academy Hassan Akhras to find out more about the Place Vendôme “Al Kanz”.
Place Vendôme Al Kanz © Czapek
Tell us about this collaboration and how it got started.
Hassan Akhras (HA): The idea of creating a project for charity started a few years back when we tested the idea by creating a small edition of 50 pieces for the year of Zayed and donated the sales proceeds to the Zayed Foundation. From that point on, the club members wanted to support the local communities and leverage our network and reach in the watch community to create special pieces that we would auction and then donate the proceeds to charity foundations. We were already very close to the Czapek & Cie. team as we had previously done a special chronograph edition for the club members and thus, we wanted to continue this partnership for a greater cause. Xavier [de Roquemaurel] was very welcoming of the project and supported the entire process from end to end, even with the long delays we had to go through because of unforeseen situations. However, the end result is something to be extremely proud of.
Why did you choose the Place Vendôme as the timepiece to focus on?
HA: The Place Vendôme was the right evolution of a partnership that we started two years ago with Czapek & Cie.; we created together the Pellegrine piece and we decided that the timepiece for charity should be the top-of-the-line model that Czapek has to offer. This means also that the proceeds from the auction sales can aim for higher returns, leading to more donations for the foundation. Another reason, of course, is the fact that the Place Vendôme watches are just mesmerising to admire and offer a lot of ideas for customisation and creativity to achieve uniqueness.
Place Vendôme Al Kanz © Czapek
Tell us about the special features of this watch that make it unique to Arab Watch Club.
HA: We focused on several elements of design when we decided to use the Place Vendôme for our project, and we were very detailed in our brief to reflect several elements that are close to our region and also pay homage to our culture. First of all, the inner dial is a design pattern that is very predominant in a lot of Arabic architecture but also interior designs. This motif is present in our houses and we feel very much connected to it — there is a sense of nostalgia every time I look at the dial. Secondly, the outer dial in green is first a colour that is very respected in our region and very much loved. What makes the dial even more unique is the use of the Zoïsite stone, which has never been used before in watchmaking. It is a hidden gem that has been unveiled in this edition — hence the name “Al Kanz” meaning the treasure. Next, the 12 o’clock hour marker on the dial is in Eastern Arabic numerals — it only seemed logically to make it this way for consistency. Lastly, the GMT hour scale is also written in Eastern Arabic numerals, and it is the first time that Czapek & Cie. uses those numerals in any of its editions.
The sale of the watch will benefit the Emirates Foundation — can you share more about the aims of AWC, not just as a community of enthusiasts, but also in terms of giving back to society?
HA: All proceeds will be donated to the SANID programme of the Emirates Foundation — this is a volunteer program for youth to get involved in their community and support frontliners in fighting emergencies such as the one we have faced recently with Covid19; without those volunteers and their efforts, we wouldn't have been able to contain the situation this fast and support our local community the way they did. It is very important for us as watch enthusiasts to be able to give back in any way possible to our community and participate, in our own way as watch horology geeks, to support such causes. This is just the beginning, and we are certain that with the success of this project and this collaboration, we also might open many doors for other clubs and enthusiasts to do the same and be more active in their own communities.
Place Vendôme Al Kanz © Czapek
You’ve said in the official press communications about the Place Vendôme “Al Kanz” that the use of the stone Zoïsite is part of the sustainable approach of the dial-making in this timepiece; can you explain a little more about this?
Xavier de Roquemaurel: The way we discovered the Zoisite was quite unusual and in a way very typical of Czapek… We came across it in the GT Cadran showroom of precious and semi-precious stones. We had reviewed all type of green stones, from malachite to jasper Then, I saw a sort of abandoned stone on the top of a shelf. It was very unique: a red ruby-coloured heart inside a very uncommon green moucheté or tacheté (flecked or marked) larger stone.
I said, “What about this green?” They all replied, “Oh no! No one uses the green part. We have to break it to get to the red interior part. We never did a dial with it.” So I smiled and said, “That’s the one we’ll use!”
I love the idea that we sometimes walk by a treasure without noticing it. And that the earth is our un-noticed treasure. I also loved the idea that we can create value by sharing, that something which is usually discarded becomes valuable because we give it a purpose. This is the transcendental power of luxury. This is where art and watchmaking touch each other.
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.Find out more >
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