- Blue handmade “Flinqué” enamel dial
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.