A new luxury watch brand has been born today, shining a spotlight on the talents of the 19th century Polish watchmaker who first partnered with Antoni Patek.
The Czapek & Cie, first founded in 1847 by Franciszek Czapek (later Francois Czapek), has been ‘respectfully’ re-established by three Swiss entrepreneurs who have created a Quai des Bergues collection of fine wristwatches using Czapek’s traditional signature style of dual sub registers at the four and eight o’clock position. Czapek’s own creations were of course pocket watches.
Czapek cemented his own place in the horological history books by partnering with Antoine Patek in 1839 to form Patek, Czapek & Co before the latter met Adrian Philippe and went on to found Patek Philippe & Co in 1851. Czapek was even granted the title Horloger de la Cour Impériale (Court Watchmaker) by Napoleon III, Emperor of France.
The new Quai des Bergues collection, named after the location of Czapek’s Geneva workshop, of six models have been created using a traditional horizontal manufacturing approach, calling on the expertise of a variety of Switzerland’s many horological specialists.
Behind the newly reborn haute horlogerie brand are Harry Guhl, the company’s chief executive officer Xavier de Roquemaurel and a silent partner watchmaker. The company is based in Geneva and the project was initially funded with CHF 500,000 (£330,000) raised from private investors and the sale of prototype Czapek Design Study Chronograph models.
This funding allowed the newly formed company to develop the proprietary SXH1 calibre and fund the first pre-series before launching a ‘crowdequity’ investment bid for one million Swiss Francs (£659,000) on French crowdfunding website Raizers that permits stakeholder investment. Investors will have exclusive access to an annual discount in return for their investment.
The manually wound 21,600vph SXH1 calibre has been designed for Czapek & Cie by Chronode founder Jean-François Mojon, who conceived the Opus X for Harry Winston, while the case is manufactured by LAB in La Chaux-de-Fonds and is presented in rose and white gold, titanium and XO Steel, an alloy particularly resistant to corrosion that has never been used in watchmaking before. The movement uses two barrels to achieve a seven-day power reserve.
The classic models feature either blued steel arrow hands or gold fleur-de-lys hands so fine new tooling was required to machine them. Both sit above a Grand Feu enamel dial. The left-hand sub register displays small seconds while the right-hand displays both power reserve and calendar days.
WatchPro editor James Buttery was invited to view the initial watch designs by CEO Xavier de Roquemaurel in 2014 offering an unusually frank glimpse of the usually secretive process of both brand building and watch design. Just last month de Roquemaurel returned to London to reveal the finished watches to WatchPro.