In November this year, Switzerland’s traditional watchmaking industry welcomes revival of the legendary Czapek & Cie brand name. A well established horology brand since nineteenth-century, Czapek & Cie is making a comeback in the industry by launching Quai des Bergues, first contemporary collection of mechanical timepieces from the historic brand. The Quai des Bergues collection, the first family of six models from the brand, will perpetuate the Czapek style and will be perfectly integrated into the haute horlogerie segment.
Czapek & Cie was founded by François Czapek, one of the great figures of nineteenth-century watchmaking. Born in Bohemia (Czech Republic today), Czapek was an associate of Antoine Norbert de Patek, a fellow Pole. Both men lived in Switzerland. But Czapek’s name, while no longer widely known, was uttered in the most prestigious circles in its day. His prized timepieces were hard to come by and were much coveted by the nobility back then. Napoleon III, Emperor of France, even granted him the title Horloger de la Cour Impériale (Court Watchmaker). To this day, Czapek watches are much sought after by collectors.
The revival began when three entrepreneurs in Switzerland received some intelligence from a group of passionate watch enthusiasts in 2013. They were convinced that what they had before them was a genuine historic monument and they decided to organise the Czapek comeback. They hired a well-known historian, fully aware of the fact that the digging work would set the pace for upcoming developments. They also tracked down Czapek timekeepers that had been sold at auctions. The more they researched, the greater their sense of humility and determination became. The first proactive step was to constitute Czapek & Cie, a limited company that respectfully took the name of the company created by François Czapek & Cie on May 1, 1845.
|Harry Guhl and Xavier de Roquemaurel, the current owners of Czapek & Cie brand|
When gazing at the pocket watch with the reference number 3430, manufactured by François Czapek in Geneva around 1850, the three associates, Harry Guhl, Xavier de Roquemaurel and a watchmaker who prefers to remain unnamed, were fascinated by the timepiece’s sheer elegance and highly identifiable lines: the classy elongation of the Roman numerals, the slimness of the forged hands, and, above all, the unusual positioning of the two subdials, one at 4:30, the other at 7:30.
|Pocket Watch Reference Number 3430 by François Czape, Circa 1850|
The first collection is named Quai des Bergues, in memory of the spot where François Czapek had his workshop. The knowledge of subcontracted watchmakers converges in this piece, the way one might cite sources. To finance the project, the three company leaders found private investors.
They also sold the Czapek Design Study Chronograph to a small circle of close friends. This chronograph bears an historic caliber, the C73, which dates to 1971. This permitted them to finance research into the design, the development of a proprietary caliber of high quality, as well as the first pre-series. They then chose crowd funding equity, a participative way of financing projects that lets people become investors.
Chronode, the Le Locle-based company of Jean-François Mojon, developed the Czapek SXH1, an haute horlogerie mechanical calibre with 29 jewels. It is finely decorated and remains aesthetically true to the 1850 original. This manually-wound movement has two barrel springs and runs at a rate of 21,600 vibrations per hour, which translates as 3 Hertz. It boasts a power reserve of 168 hours, or seven days.
|Czapek SXH1 movement|
The case, manufactured by LAB in La Chaux-de-Fonds, comes in rose gold or white gold, titanium, or in “XO” steel, a material that is ultra-resistant to corrosion and has never been used in watchmaking before.
For the classic models (rose or white god), a set of blued steel or forged fleur-de-lys hands sweep the grand feu enamel dial, which has two typically Czapek subdials: one that marks the small seconds, at 7:30, the other, at 4:30, that marks the power reserve and the calendar days at the same time.
The first phase of the project, including research, development of the first calibre, studies to design the case, and production of the first series, was financed by a sum of approximately 500,000 Swiss francs raised amongst friends and private investors. The objective now is to raise 1 Million Swiss Francs through a Crowd Funding Equity Campaign aimed at watch lovers. From now on, anyone can become an investor in Czapek & Cie and contribute to its development.
The company founders chose Raizers, the first European crowd investing platform. It favours enterprises that meet very strict eligibility criteria, innovative businesses, or ones that are growing vigorously and are led by professional teams. A second platform in the UK will be confirmed soon. Czapek &Cie is headquartered in Geneva.
Model: Quai des Bergues
Hours, minutes, seconds
Second sub dial at 7:30.
Power reserve and weekday on sub-dial at 4:30
Czapek SXH1 calibre, haute horlogerie mechanical movement developed for Czapek by Chronode
Manual winding, two barrel springs with 7 days’ (168 hours)power reserve
Frequency: 21,600 vph (3 Hertz)
Diameter: 31.10 millimetres
(13 ¾lines), height 4.48 millimetres
Finish: double open ratchets, sand blasted bridges, blued screws, polished bevelling
Machined case in 4N rose gold or white gold
External diameter: 42.5 mm
Opening diameter: 36.40 mm
Sapphire crystal case back with antireflective treatment on the inside surface
Water-resistant to 30 metres (3 atm)
Black alligator strap – 4N pink gold or white gold buckle, depending on the case material
Copper base covered in grand feu enamel
Elongated Roman numerals, representative of Czapek elegance
Polished gold hands