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Czapek & Cie. - Interview with Harry Guhl

Czapek & Cie. Interview with Harry Guhl

At SalonQP in London last month, we spoke to one of the principal backers behind Czapek & Cie.

Czapek is a brand “by collectors, for collectors”. Why did you choose this route?
Even though we have invested our own money in the project, myself and the shareholders wanted the project to be about sharing from the outset. How have brands like Google, Youtube and Wikipedia become so big? It’s because they share.
The challenge was that we are still a watch manufacturer who strives for perfection and has certain values to maintain. We fell in love with the story of the brand but on a social level we didn’t want to remain in the old system, we wanted to think and act outside the box and sharing the company with watch lovers seemed to be the most logical thing.
The moment you share something, you lay down some solid foundations and you make friends.  At our launch press conference we had all the owners and CEOs of our suppliers. This has never been done in the industry. They came as friends of the project because they see it as a community and something new. We are bringing the philosophy of the “dot com” companies to the world of watchmaking.

"The most important thing seemed to be to honour the name and put your faith into it."

Why did you decide on the equity crowdfunding approach?
Getting money was not an issue but we wanted to be true to our origins. We thought about what Czapek would do if he was still alive. The most important thing seemed to be to honour the name and put your faith into it. We have to give him the second life he deserves. This transcends pure business and starts to become more emotional.

What are the main differences between standard crowdfunding and your equity crowdfunding model?
The biggest difference is the legal aspects that have to be taken into account. Furthermore, we are the first brand to go for a multinational platform, using raizers.com in France and Switzerland. Usually crowdfunding doesn’t even have a product to offer at the start, but we couldn’t do this so we needed some private funding in the initial rounds. We had to have something physical to offer because we want to deliver by the end of next year, which is quite remarkable in the industry.

Czapek Quai des Bergues N31

The watch is very identifiable from the front, but the movement is also quite distinctive. Can you tell us more about the idea behind the finish?
The original Czapek movement in the pocket watch that was the inspiration for the current Czapek collection had a very distinctive grained finish. Our watchmaker had a long discussion with Jean-François Mojon on how to decorate the movement. The finish is quite interesting because there are no Côtes de Genève. Because of this some people may say that it is not even decorated. But when you look closer at the bevelling and graining you start to appreciate the finish.

Czapek Mouvement SXH1

You come from the art industry. Is this an art piece?
No, above all it is a piece of craftsmanship. But there are certain artistic elements included in it. We use concepts that artists use, for instance the movement visible through the back is like an abstract canvas that you have to dive into.

Do you know of many vintage Czapek models?
Since we have relaunched the brand we have been approached by collectors who have some historical Czapek models. There are very few on the market but we do ask those collectors who get in touch with us to send us photos of their watches.

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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