Czapek & Cie Something Old, Something New
The watch company Czapek & Cie reinterprets tradition in their trademark way.
If you want to talk about traditional influences, Czapek & Cie have that side of things totally covered. They take their name from one half of horology’s most famous partnerships — from Franciszek Czapek, of the Patek–Czapek pairing that went through a series of business evolutions to become Patek Philippe. Their first watch release, the Quai des Bergues (named for the historical workshop location of the original Czapek & Cie) was inspired by a double-counter pocket watch made by Czapek in 1850. At its heart of the Quai des Bergues was a Chronode movement created by Jean-François Mojon, one of the most experienced and respected watchmakers of our time.
Quai des Bergues Guilloché Ricochet - Black Prince © Czapek & Cie
In an equally strong sense, however, Czapek & Cie are also a 21st-century business. Their first headline-making act was to open up company equity to the public, embracing the crowdfunding model as a way to build their audience of stakeholders and also quickly spread awareness about this company with its progressive new approach. By the second decade of the new millennium, the idea of crowdfunding might have seemed commonplace to those keeping a finger on the pulse of technology-driven enterprise. In the watchmaking industry, however, Czapek & Cie’s audacious move marked them as trailblazers of the highest degree.
Antarctique Terre Adélie Secret Alloy © Czapek & Cie
The recent launch of the sporty Antarctique collection, following a series of classically inflected designs, was the beginning of Czapek & Cie’s new chapter. A round dial is set within a tonneau profile that integrates seamlessly with a bracelet distinguished by its C-shaped polished middle link. Gentle curves, barely perceptible except upon close examination, soften this 1970s design aesthetic and make it a strong companion for the modern watch enthusiast — someone who appreciates historical inspirations, but also values ergonomics and ease of wear.
Although the Antarctique signals the next stage of Czapek & Cie’s horological offerings, it is still very much connected to its preceding models. The movement, designed by in-house constructor Daniel Martinez, acknowledges its patrimony of historic Genevois watchmaking with its three parallel “ponts” or bridges for the third, fourth and escape wheels respectively. The balance bridge takes the angular form of the openworked rotor visible through the caseback of the brand’s Faubourg de Cracovie model.
Calibre SXH5 © Czapek & Cie
The current run of Antarctique models, sub-categorised as the Terre Adélie collection, is limited to 99 pieces and is already sold out, thanks to Czapek’s loyal client base. Subsequent sub-collections (such as the Orion Nebula with artisanal dial, limited to 10 pieces, and a feminine model) will be released later this year, so those who missed out on the first 99 Antarctique models have nothing to fear.
Antarctique Orion Nebula © Czapek & Cie
As with everything that has taken place in the timeline of the reborn Czapek & Cie, the old ways sit side-by-side with new methods. The watch industry in the new millennium has been defined by verticalisation and corporate acquisition, but Czapek & Cie have anchored their operational model firmly within a diverse base of suppliers and partners (a model that characterised the majority of the watchmaking industry in previous centuries, actually). The motto of their most recent campaign is “We collect rare people” — an illustration of this concept and a surprising inversion of the collector-watch dynamic. Knowing Czapek & Cie, this isn’t the last surprise that we can expect from them.
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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