Rebirth of a legendary name
Franciszek Czapek was a Polish exile who arrived in Geneva in 1832. After changing his name to François Czapek, the master watchmaker continued to assembled watches in Switzerland. In 1839 he set up a six-year partnership with another Polish exile, Antoni Patek, forming the company Patek, Czapek & Cie. At the end of the partnership, there was no longer a will to continue, so Patek teamed up with Adrien Philippe to found what is now the world-famous Patek Philippe brand, while Czapek joined forces with Juliusz Gruzewski, who was a friend of Napoleon III and thus had ties to the Imperial Court.
From the late 1860s the story becomes vague, with no known date of death for Czapek. The business may have continued for some time after its founder's death, but then it was lost to history and we will never know exactly what became of the company. But in 2011, when the name Czapek & Cie. was revived by a consortium consisting of watch marketing expert Xavier de Roquemaurel, art expert Harry Guhl and watchmaker Sébastien Follonier.
When a luxury watch company meets crowdfunding
Czapek & Cie. took an unusual and daring approach to relaunching the brand name at international level in a crowded marketplace. It was the first luxury watch brands to start a crowdfunding campaign not to directly buy a watch but to acquire a stake in the brand itself (with obvious benefits as a shareholder). The campaign was a resounding success that allowed Czapek & Cie. to come to market with its first model with its own in-house movement. This 7-day movement was developed in conjunction with watchmaker Jean-François Mojon and its design allowed the first Czapek & Cie. watch to mimic an original Czapek design with subsidiary counters in the bottom half of the dial - one for the small seconds and the other for the power reserve. The fact that the manually-wound movement has a rather unusual power reserve of seven days means that this scale can also be used to indicate the day of the week. Czapek & Cie. is a firm believer in sourcing the individual components of its watches from the very best suppliers. Its use of a stainless steel unique in the industry, the finest engine-turned dials and the very best in Swiss Made movements are testament to this. All Czapek & Cie. watches are 100% Swiss Made.
Luxury gold, special steel
The case of the first Czapek & Cie. watch, the Quai des Bergues (named after the address of François Czapek's first shop, which was possibly the first of its kind in Geneva), comes in a choice of white gold or rose gold, titanium or Czapek & Cie.'s own unique version of stainless steel, called "XO" steel. Available with an engine-turned or grand feu enamel dial, this model is further distinguished by its hands. The hands can be either skeletonised arrowhead hands or fleur-de-lys tipped hands in blued steel.
Tourbillon fans will appreciate the Place Vendôme watches, which are available with a case in gold or platinum. It retains the signature Czapek & Cie. dial with the two subsidiary indications at 4.30 and 7.30, but these now house the suspended tourbillon for the former and a second time zone display, as well as separate day/night and power reserve indications. The time is displayed on a subsidiary dial at 12 o'clock with an enamel insert and miniature fleur-de-lys hands in blued steel.
Czapek & Cie.'s first chronograph saw the light of day in 2018 and combines the very best in watchmaking crafts on its dial, which is available either in grand feu enamel or with the brand's signature "ricochet" engine-turned pattern. The case keeps the similar design but with a smaller diameter and the chronograph pushers thoughtfully integrated into the case middle. Its automatic movement is a bespoke implementation by Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier with a vertical clutch and column wheel. It operates at a high frequency of 36,000 vph and offers a 65-hour power reserve. On the chronograph models the hands are full arrowhead style for greater legibility.