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Czapek & Cie. - Going for the double at the GPHG

Czapek & Cie. Going for the double at the GPHG

Czapek’s “Place Vendôme” is one of the timepieces pre-selected for the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève.

The Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) never fails to produce a few surprises, and the odd unexpected winner. This time the surprise has come early, in the qualification phase. For the second year running, Czapek has been selected for the final round of the Grand Prix. That’s two selections in two years, for a brand that is only two years old, and has just two models in its portfolio. And would you believe it, the brand launch on 10 November 2015 was followed one year later to the day by the award of the Public Prize of the GPHG on 10 November 2016. That’s positively spooky.

F. Czapek Esq., time traveller

Czapek is back, but not with a new version of the Quai des Bergues, which won a prize last year. This year, it’s the turn of the Place Vendôme, a brand new creation unveiled at Baselworld 2017. The watch brand’s trajectory has much in common with the life history of François Czapek himself, which serves as a guiding thread for the brand. While the Quai des Bergues, an exercise in the strictest Haute Horlogerie tradition, was a tribute to the work of François Czapek, the Place Vendôme hypothesises what the watchmaker might have come up with if he were alive today.

“It’s a journey through time,” explains Xavier de Roquemaurel, Czapek’s CEO. “We designed the Quai des Bergues and the Place Vendôme at the same time, like a horological odyssey through the centuries. The fact that we were selected for the GPHG in our first year was a validation of our foundations, of our aesthetic, technical and historical approach. Winning the Public Prize in 2016 was a consecration. It’s an honour for the Place Vendôme to follow in its footsteps. We are very proud that the jury are receptive to our creative path, that they understand where we’re going with this. The preselection is a sign that we’re probably on the right track, in terms of reviving the legend of Czapek, and giving the brand the prestige it deserves.”

Czapek Place Vendome Tourbillon

Place Vendome Tourbillon © Czapek

From Paris to Geneva

The Place Vendôme plays an important role in François Czapek’s story. As far as we know, he was the first person in the history of the famous square to set up a watch and clockmaker’s shop in the Rue de la Paix, which opens out on to the famous square. Czapek, the contemporary watch brand, pays tribute to the visionary entrepreneurial spirit of the eponymous watchmaker.

The watch itself represents a new technical landmark for the brand, being the first to feature a suspended tourbillon. And yet the Place Vendôme is not competing in the Tourbillon category. “We chose to submit it for the Travel Time category,” Xavier de Roquemaurel explains. “It resonates better with our history, with the historical thread that leads from the Quai des Bergues. The watch is called Place Vendôme Tourbillon Suspendu ‘Ici et Ailleurs’. It’s an invitation to travel. We wanted to differentiate ourselves by focusing not just on the technical qualities of our tourbillon, but also on its contemporary, poetic dimension. The Place Vendôme is unmistakeably a 21st-century creation.”

The Place Vendôme selected by the GPHG comes in a platinum case with steel bridges, in a limited edition of 15. It has Czapek’s signature enamel dial and fleur de lys hands in blued gold. The Jury will announce its decision on 8 November.

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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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