PLACE VENDÔME COMPLICITÉ - Stardust White Gold
PLACE VENDÔME COMPLICITÉ - STARDUST WHITE GOLD
- Unique architecture for a double escapement with differential at 12 o'clock
- Created with the ’Complicité’ of Bernhard Lederer.
- Variable inertia balance wheels
- Limited edition of 50 pieces
EXPORT PRICE 89 000 EUR excl VAT
Two friends, two hearts, one watch
Geneva, August 2023 – Czapek & Cie unveils Place Vendôme Complicité, a unique reinterpretation of a double escapement combination initially created in 1930 and very rare in wristwatches. Two independent oscillators beat at their own pace, with any rate variations balanced by a differential at 12 o’clock, all beautifully laid out on the dial side.
The design of the Place Vendôme Complicité is as much the result of a chance encounter, a coincidence (do they really exist?), as it is a technical and artistic feat. Human encounters and the sharing of ideas lie at the heart of everything that Czapek does. As a fundamental value, the Maison defends the concept of établissage – the ecosystem of specialised workshops that once defined the entire watchmaking industry; this enables it to choose the most talented, independent specialists in each of the watchmaking crafts, bringing them together – as a conductor would unite musicians in an orchestra – to create exceptional timepieces. For Czapek, suppliers are also partners in creativity and this turned out to be decisive in Place Vendôme Complicité ever becoming a reality.
In Pursuit of Beauty
The idea for the watch was born in 2018 as an evolution of Czapek’s renowned initial models, Quai des Bergues and Place Vendôme; the movement architecture of those pieces translates into a distinctive Czapek ‘face’ with sub-dials at the 7.30 and 4.30 positions on the dial.
While the technical aspect of the double escapement concept fully visible on the dial side and distributed around the centre was fascinating to Czapek’s CEO Xavier de Roquemaurel – and the group of ‘rare people’ who make up the Maison’s inner circle of collectors, investors and enthusiasts – it’s a guiding principle of Czapek that the beauty of a mechanism is as important as the beauty of the habillage – the dial, hands and case. Consequently, the architecture of every Czapek calibre is designed to unite the technical and aesthetic elements, serving and enhancing both in equal measure.
The starting point for Complicité was to respect the dial layout of the original Place Vendôme model – on which the two signature sub-dials form the base of a pyramid, completed by a third sub-dial at the apex. An initial sketch was then designed: the escapements would be at 7.30 and 4.30 and the differential that connects them would be at the 12.00 position, with both escapement trains embracing the centre.
“The real beauty of the idea lies in this way of expressing the double escapement, with the differential at 12 o’clock as a central element,” explains Xavier de Roquemaurel. “And by bringing the mechanism to the dial side and open-working everything, we would also have a beautiful kinetic sculpture.”
However, building such a movement was easier said than done; after a fruitless search for a watchmaking partner capable of reconciling the aesthetics with the technical demands, the idea was eventually put to one side. And then, one day, a story of family and friendship brought it back to life. Paul, one of Xavier’s children, was in the same school class in Neuchâtel as the daughter of watchmaker Bernhard Lederer, and a mutual friend introduced the two fathers. Their encounter led to a friendship, mutual exchanges of ideas, advice and help and, ultimately, resolved the problem, made the new double escapement architecture possible and gave birth to the watch.
The name of the new timepiece, Place Vendôme Complicité alludes to this collaboration – as well as to the complicity between two independent escapements working in unison.
Aesthetics and Sophisticated Mechanics: an Unbreakable Bond
The principle of the double escapement regulator is that, with two balance wheels beating independently, and power delivered from a single barrel via a differential, any variation in rate (which may be caused by gravity or various other factors inherent in everyday life) will be cancelled out, thus ensuring greater timekeeping accuracy.
With the double escapement at its heart, Czapek’s new in-house Calibre 8 is manually wound to provide a power reserve of 72 hours, which is indicated on the dial at 6 o’clock between the balance wheels. Two sapphire bridges reveal the entire gear train on the dial side, protected by a box-style sapphire crystal glass.
Dominated by distinctive, triangular bridges from which the balances are suspended, the aesthetic blends modernity with tradition, playing with the colours of different metals of various components while drawing the eye deep into the workings of the movement. Naturally, haute horlogerie finishes abound, with traditional handcrafts complemented by more contemporary decorative finishes – not only on the dial side but also on the back of the movement, where 18 inward angles have been hand-bevelled.
The crown wheel mechanism – a hidden signature of Bernhard Lederer – is integrated into the movement design as a subtle tribute to his contribution to the development of Complicité.
As a backdrop to the movement, two dial colours are offered: cool tones of grey that create a subtle harmony with a white gold case for the Place Vendôme Complicité Stardust, and a bolder combination that epitomises Czapek’s more adventurous spirit: deep sapphire blue in a rose gold case for the Place Vendôme Complicité Harmony Blue. The satin-brushing of the flange and index ring contrasts with the matte grainé surface of the baseplate.
Adding contemporary style, the hands are sword-shaped and open-worked, so as not to obstruct the view of the mechanism, and their shape is echoed by the applied hour markers. All are plated in gold to match the case material and tipped with luminescent coating to enhance legibility in low light conditions. In true Czapek style, some almost-hidden details have been added purely for aesthetic effect; for example, looking deep into the movement reveals that the post on which the hands are mounted has been open-worked to create a tiny ‘arcade des heures’ (arcade of the hours).
Inspired by the cases of Quai des Bergues and Place Vendôme, the case – a relatively compact and very wearable 41.8mm diameter – is a distillation of Czapek’s signature iconography, with sharper lines adding contemporary flair. The eye is caught by a dynamic tension between the flowing curves of the case sides and the crisp angles of the deep recesses on the sides of the lugs, the play of light and shadow amplified by a mix of brushed and polished surfaces. Completing the ensemble, an alligator strap that matches or closely complements the colour of each dial is fastened with a gold folding clasp.
“Our vision at Czapek is to be at the forefront of the evolution of modern Haute Horlogerie, projecting watchmaking’s heritage into the future,” says Xavier de Roquemaurel. “The connection with the past remains fundamental but we are expressing it in new ways – with the Place Vendôme Complicité being just the latest example of this philosophy” – a philosophy that is underpinned by the values of precision, creativity, openness, collaboration and the love of beauty.
The first two models of the Place Vendôme Complicité will be offered in limited editions of 50 pieces per iteration.
About Czapek & Cie.
Czapek is a contemporary watchmaking Maison created in the spirit of François Czapek, a 19th-century Czech-born Polish watchmaker. In 1832 Czapek escaped from political turmoil in Warsaw and fled to Geneva, where he created a series of businesses during the 1830s. After establishing Czapek & Cie in 1845, he became the official watchmaker of Napoleon III and opened the first watchmaking boutique on Place Vendôme in Paris.
The Czapek & Cie name was reborn in 2015 by a group of watch enthusiasts who sought to revive the Maison's heritage and craftsmanship. Inspired by an 1850s Czapek & Cie pocket watch, the leading model of the first collection, Quai des Bergues 33bis, won the 2016 GPHG Public Prize. In 2020, the company launched Antarctique, a sport-chic collection with the first in-house Czapek movement. Today, Czapek’s haute horlogerie timepieces are known for their distinctive designs, high-quality craftsmanship and limited production. With headquarters in Geneva and its atelier in La-Chaux-de-Fonds, Czapek thoroughly defends the concept of ‘établissage’ in a modern way.
About Bernhard Lederer.
The German-born master watchmaker Bernhard Lederer from Saint Blaise near Neuchâtel is a multiple award winner, inventor of groundbreaking concepts and exceptional watches. His creativity and innovative concepts are born from the way he approaches challenges. He respects and analyses traditional concepts and techniques, but always challenges them. All this with a deep understanding of the heritage of watchmaking and a great respect for the masters of the past. His Central Impulse chronometer was awarded the Innovation Prize of the Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève 2021.
Bernhard Lederer is married and the father of 2 children. He is one of the very first historical members of the prestigious Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants (Academy of Independent Watchmakers - AHCI).
For Only Watch 2023, Czapek has created a one-of-a-kind example of Place Vendôme Complicité cased in steel. The dial is encircled by a champlevé enamel ring featuring the charity’s official colours for 2023 in a pattern inspired by ripples on the surface of Lake Geneva. The unique piece has been donated to the Only Watch auction, to be held in Geneva on 5 November.
- Hours, minutes, seconds and power reserve indicator
- 18K white gold case with domed sapphire and sandblasted hollowed-out lugs
- Diameter: 41.8mm
- Case height: 12.4mm
- Lug to lug: 48.22mm
Height with lugs: 14.8 mm
Height on wrist: 13.3 mm
Perceived height (without glass): 8.8 mm
Domed sapphire glass with double anti-reflective treatment
- Water resistance: 50 m / 5 ATM
- Sapphire case back
- Czapek Calibre 8, created in collaboration with Bernhard Lederer
- Number of parts: 293
- Double escapement with open differential gearing and central second.
- Frequency: 3Hz – 21,600 VpH
- Two variable inertia balance wheels oscillating in opposite directions, with four adjustment screws and four weights.
- Balance springs with Breguet terminal curves.
- Power reserve indication (72 hours)
- Two sapphire bridges with six rubies set in gold chatons
Hand-bevelling (anglage) on bridges and main plate
- 18 inward angles hand-chamfered
- Open-worked with double escapement on a ’Grainé’ main plate with blue galvanic treatment
- Circular-grained minutes and hours track
- Faceted mirror-polished steel indexes in 18K white gold.
- Partially skeletonised sword hands
- Alligator strap with 18K white gold pin buckle
- 50 timepieces
1811: Marked the birth of Franciszek Czapek in Semonice, kingdom of Bohemia (nowadays Czech Republic). He emigrated to Poland with his family in his youth, retaining Czech and Polish citizenship.
1832: Franciszek fled to Switzerland following the collapse of the Polish uprising, in which he actively participated. A gifted watchmaker, he soon founded his first company, "Czapek & Moreau", with a local partner, and Gallicized his name to François.
1839: François Czapek and Antoine Norbert de Patek, both Polish emigrants, survivors of an insurrection that had forced them to flee, met in 1836. This encounter changed their lives. Czapek invited his countryman Patek to delve into the realm of watchmaking. Together they founded the company Patek, Czapek & Cie on May 1. 1839.
1845: The partnership between François Czapek and Antoine Norbert de Patek lasted six years, during which they created several exceptional timepieces. At the end of their contract, in April 1845, they dissolved the partnership. Both men continued producing timepieces. Czapek founded Czapek & Cie on May 1st, 1845, with a new partner, Juliusz Gruzewski.
1850: Czapek was quickly recognized as one of the greatest watchmakers of the nineteenth century. Purveyor to the Imperial Court, Watchmaker of His Imperial Highness, Prince Napoleon. At its height, the company had boutiques in Geneva, Warsaw and Paris, Place Vendôme. He wrote a book on watchmaking, one of the first of its kind ever written in Polish.
1869: Czapek disappears mysteriously.
2012: The Czapek company name was re-established in 2012. The three entrepreneurs behind this revival decided to take an unusual path for the relaunch of the Company: to share it with fellow watch lovers. They created a library of Czapek timepieces to understand his work and personality, and worked on new designs as if he was seated with them having traveled through time.
2015: On November 10, 2015, the company was relaunched in front of journalists, friends and watch lovers in Geneva. Fellow enthusiasts were given the opportunity to take part in the great adventure of Czapek's revival, by investing through an equity crowdfunding campaign. The company became the first Haute Horlogerie Company revived by watch connoisseurs worldwide.
2016: Czapek & Cie wins the coveted Public Prize at the Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève, the Oscars of Haute Horlogerie. A true recognition from a public of connoisseurs who rewarded the beauty and the horological quality of the Quai des Bergues No. 33bis. The award would have made François Czapek proud. Every year since, Czapek has launched a new collection with a new calibre: the Place Vendôme in 2017, the Faubourg de Cracovie in 2018.
2017: Czapek launches its second collection, the Place Vendôme Tourbillon Suspendu “Ici et Ailleurs” named after the Parisian square where François Czapek opened a boutique in 1850 - assumed to be the first fine watchmaking boutique ever on this world-famous square.
2018: The Faubourg de Cracovie chronograph is the company’s third collection and is named after the location of François Czapek's third boutique, opened in 1854 in Warsaw, Poland.
2019: After a century and a half of absence, the company opens a new boutique in Geneva, Rue de la Corraterie 18, only few steps away from the original Czapek’s atelier, established in 1845 in the Quai des Bergues in Geneva.
Beauty needs some sort of disruption… When an apparently innocent or disturbing detail suddenly makes the whole become beautiful.
A rich legacy ought to be considered with a certain sense of duty, passion and flair. The revival of Czapek first started by exploring the watches portfolio of the former collection until one timepiece emerged. The simple yet fascinating 1850’s pocket watch N°3430 became the centre of attention. Yet plain replication of the original would have been insufficient. Revival requires a lot more than this: all the original codes that made a watch unique in its time must be considered through the looking-glass of 150 years of evolution in technologies and taste. While at first sight classical, François Czapek’s work remains stunningly modern: all the elements are unexpected, almost shocking when taken separately, but so harmonious when all set together.
The purity of this large white enamel dial is underlined by the extended numerals. The surprising combination of Fleurs de Lys (hours) with Trident (minutes) exceptional forged hands creates a beautiful chaos. The two decentred sub dials, one at 4.30 o’clock the other at 7.30 o’clock create an asymmetry on one side and symmetry on the other. A typical Czapek style element that we can also find in the movement architecture. Finally the remarkable double hand power reserve indication with weekdays highlights the authenticity of his design approach.
The red-line behind these personality traits embodies what makes Czapek unique: The quest for beauty through the poetry of time. It defines our duty: to magnify his style into a modern version.
WE COLLECT RARE PEOPLE
Czapek & Cie crystalizes the brand’s message and uniqueness with a new communication campaign whose tagline “We Collect Rare People”, combines various important elements of the Geneva-based maison. Notably, the ideas of ‘sharing passion’ and ‘community’ with ‘rarity’ and ‘identity’.
“We Collect Rare People”, is a play on words, a sort of oxymoron, making people ask themselves about who is collecting, what, why and whether they would like to join the Czapek ‘club’.
Czapek collects rare people in many ways. First-of-all, Czapek collects rare supplying partners that provide the brand with rare savoir-faire, proud to be a piece of this exciting project. Czapek also collects clients with a rareobsession for quality, on the quest for a unique product. In another sense, they also become partners. Last but not least, Czapek collects shareholders, fine watch lovers that have always dreamt of not only being customers, but owners of an haute horology venture, and their dream became true thanks to the crowdfunding equity campaign that made the revival of Czapek possible.
“Since the rebirth of the brand”, explains Xavier de Roquemaurel, CEO of Czapek & Cie, “Czapek has been proud of its ‘family’. We never planned to create a community, it just emerged from our way of working. By opening the books during our fundraise, we became naturally transparent, by being transparent we became collaborative, by being open and collaborative we attracted hundreds of watch-lovers and made them become Ambassadors and create a Community. By collecting rare people, Czapek becomes stronger and more enticing”.
“Everyone has their own journey of how they got there, you’re never defining who the person is, just that they are confidently different to everyone else”.
Our dials are not just the “face” of our watches. They are, in essence, the natural extension of our mechanical movements in both beauty and complexity. Whether it is Hand Guilloché, Grand Feu Enamel, or Flinqué, the incredible skills required to create each one of them are the prerogative of only few rare people in this world. We are proud to work with the best amongst them and present their amazing work here.
THE ART OF GUILLOCHE
Guilloché (also called engine-turning) is a decorating technique in which intricate geometric patterns are engraved onto dials and, sometimes, cases. Lines are etched into the part via a hand-operated lathe, either in straight lines or in circles. The difficulty of this process does not only rely on the precision required but also on the correct and continuous pressure of the hand in order to get a perfectly regular pattern. Most of the current Master-Guillocheurs, learned through an apprenticeship with another Master as this art is no longer taught in watchmaking schools.
CZAPEK GUILLOCHE RICOCHET ®
The Czapek exclusive Ricochet Guilloché pattern takes the inspiration from an ancient design created by Francois Czapek in the 1850s. Its main characteristic and unique feature is the presence of a double focal point, unlike traditional Guilloché patterns with only one focal point at the centre of the dial. The two focal points, corresponding to the two iconic Czapek subdials – indicating small seconds and power reserve – create a fascinating “wave interferences” in the dial, hence the name: Guilloché Ricochet ®.
CZAPEK’S GUILLOCHE RESONANCE
Called Résonance, this special guilloché is derived from the Ricochet ® pattern of the Quai des Bergues collection: concentric circles originating from the two sub dials at 3 and 9 o’clock intersect and form bas-relief squares. But this time, the lines are much deeper and wider, creating a sporty guilloché, never made in watchmaking. It took our Master Guillocheur much effort and time to get the right result but the biggest challenge was elsewhere: in order to enhance the light effects, we decided to add to this pattern a curvy, “bombé” shape. So, to avoid any deformation or distorted lines, we had to find a special alloy, replacing the soft 18 carat gold used traditionally. This is why all our dials featuring the “Résonance” guilloché are made out of our special alloy, including 55% of precious metals (Pt, Au, Pd, Ag).
THE ART OF ENAMEL
The Czapek “Grand Feu” enamel dial is one of the most difficult techniques of the art of watch decorating but offers maximum durability. The master artisan of our manufacturing partner Donze Cadrans in Le Locle, does not paint the motif directly on the watch but applies more oxides on the dial in gold. Then, the enameler moves the dial into a fire (800-900° C) several times to allow motif and colors appear gradually. The “Grand Feu” enamel sets unalterable and refined decoration… including a secret signature in the case of Czapek.
THE FLINQUE TECHNIQUE
“Flinqué” is a technique combining the stamping of geometric patterns, which have been initially engraved on a dial using the guilloché technique, with enamelling. The guilloché pattern used with the original “flinqué” technique was so recognizable that it gave it its name. Nowadays any pattern can be used in a “flinqué” dial
Czapek had its partner Metalem recreate its own “Ricochet ®” design – a motif inspired by the ripples of a stone skipped on a lake – on a stamping tool. Once the décor is stamped on a silver plate, an intense ‘moiré’ enamel is applied by another Czapek partner, Donzé Cadran. It is then finally fired in a kiln to harden the enamel. The process is repeated several times until the right hue is achieved.
DETAILS & INNOVATION
Our watches feature few details and innovations that are unique and make Czapek creations instantly recognizable. The devil is in the details, and this is what Haute-Horlogerie is all about!
The historial 3430 pocket watch made by Czapek in the 1850’s featured a beautiful pair of open ratchets… an amazing detail to bring forward today and introduce in the SXH1 Movement.
Czapek’s open ratchets are polished, circular-grainde and finely chamfered.
‘Golden Bees’ (in fact, cicadas) are considered as the oldest emblem of the sovereigns of France and became the symbol of Imperial France and of Napoléon III. They stand for Resurrection and Eternity. Czapek’s ‘poinçon de maître’ (hallmark) features a Golden bee as a tribute to the Imperial distinction obtained in the 1850’s… and a symbol of its Revival.
This long forgotten secret ‘savoir-faire’, dating back at least two centuries, was a thrill to revive in modern times!
The use of this technique is extremely rare. Czapek’s hand written signature reveals itself when a ray of light hits the enamel at the correct angle. The inscription is a faithful reproduction of François Czapek’s signature, as written in the Czapek’s & Cie compagny registration, available in the ‘Archives de Genève’.
Czapek’s double hand is a unique mean to display the seven-day power reserve with the indication of the day of the week. It was first featured in the model No.3430.
In the 19th Century, clocks were wound once a week, on Sunday, after Mass.
François Czapek conceived this double hand the same way. When fully wound, the power reserve indicates Sunday, and ends on Saturday, when it is empty.
Since its rebirth, Czapek & Cie has paid particular attention to the quality and finesse of its watches by associating itself with the best players in the Swiss watchmaking industry. Much more than just suppliers, they are real partners, from creation process to execution. Thanks to them, to their know-how and unequalled experience, Czapek can be proud not only to offer its customers the highest quality, but also to innovate in fields in which tradition is nevertheless a benchmark.
The concept of Horizontal Manufacture is not new. It is only the contemporary continuation of what was already being done in the 19th century and known as “établissage“. It is therefore with the greatest pride that we present to you all the partners who have worked with us to create our timepieces.