Czapek Antarctique Passage de Drake Black Ink
Cross if you dare
Czapek & Cie.’s Antarctique Passage de Drake
Geneva, December 2020 – Following the success of its Antarctique Terre Adélie collection in May, Czapek & Cie is still refusing to let Covid-19 dampen its spirits with the introduction of a brand-new collection featuring a distinctive dial motif and the exquisite final version of its new movement.
The sell-out of the Czapek Antarctique Terre Adélie took everyone by surprise. Subscriptions for the 99 pieces opened on May 26th and by June 12th they were all reserved – a record that was all the more astonishing considering that the majority of the world was in confinement at the time. Add to this the fact that Czapek is one of the youngest watch brands in the business makes this sales feat even more impressive.
Antarctique Passage de Drake
The new Antarctique Passage de Drake collection takes the sport-chic case design of the Antarctique Terre Adélie line and pairs it with an atypical trapezoid dial motif whose three-dimensional stamped surface creates a play of shadows across the dial. “This unique dial design is called the ‘Stairway to Eternity’ and was actually our initial concept dial for the Antarctique, as we were looking for a signature dial design that would be very different from anything else, but it was such a lengthy process to perfect that we launched with another dial, based on a forgotten workmanship technique, the combed ‘lamé’ dials,” shares Czapek & Cie. CEO Xavier de Roquemaurel. “We finally discovered the perfect motif when our designer accidentally enlarged the trapezoids by 50% without realizing it, and it looked amazing. That’s the beauty of mistakes!” All Czapek designs are officially registered, demonstrating the company’s directional approach/identity/skill.
The SXH5 – From Prototype to Perfection
Since the unveiling of its base movement in May, Czapek & Cie has been continually making improvements to its automatic calibre SXH5 to enhance its precision, performance, and aesthetic. These upgrades will apply to both the 99 pieces of the Antarctique Terre Adélie collection and the Antarctique Passage de Drake timepieces.
Creating a movement that was designed to be a “power-horse”, but also feature a sophisticated and ambitious architecture, was a real challenge. Everything was studied in great detail to take the best from both the past and the present. An example of this can be seen in the incredible finishing on the bridges that merges haute horlogerie angling techniques with state-ot-the-art laser engravings.
The first upgrade has been to the micro-rotor that was previously in recycled 18-karat gold. It quickly became apparent that even though the watch’s timekeeping was functioning perfectly, its winding power was limited, so the watch’s designer and case maker decided to try a slightly larger rotor in platinum – still 100% recycled - which brought 25% more power to the movement. The second upgrade came with a complete change of ball bearings under the micro-rotor. Both upgrades raised the train efficiency to 90% to fully wind the single barrel and deliver the impressive 60 hours of power reserve.
The Moment of Truth
Other challenges only became apparent when the movement was tested in the first stage of the manufacturing process, such as the main plates that turned out to be not entirely flat. A third partner was quickly found to rectify this and delivered an even nicer German silver main plate. The aesthetics of the movement were also reworked, with one of the small bridges on the movement now featuring mirror-polishing on the top and six meticulously polished angles, which multiplied the price of this component by 10, but the result was worth it! “Creating a base movement from scratch was more challenging than bringing the brand to life,” says de Roquemaurel with a smile. “We knew we had to suffer a bit to achieve the level of quality and finishing we were dreaming of so that the overall result would be truly unique.”
All the Details
The Antarctique Passage de Drake collection comes in a 40.5mm stainless steel case that is fitted to an ergonomic brushed integrated bracelet, whose brushed links are connected with highly polished links in the form of a “C” for Czapek. The bracelet features a quick-change system so each owner can quickly and easily switch to a rubber strap that is decorated with the same trapezoid pattern found on the dial.
The Drake Passage
Named after the English explorer Sir Francis Drake, the Drake Passage connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans between Cape Horn (the southernmost point of South American) and the South Shetland Islands of the Antarctic. The stormy seas and icy conditions make it one of the most challenging places to navigate and sailors say to prepare yourself for an experience somewhere between bad and terrifying!
The creation of these timepieces has not only been a technical adventure but a human one. Czapek & Cie considers its suppliers to be partners and refers to them as such. The brand is also truly appreciative of its 200+ shareholders, without whom the adventure would never have even started. And last but not least, it is grateful for all the watch connoisseurs who have chosen to purchase a Czapek & Cie timepiece, selecting something different from the mainstream. When it comes to collecting, Czapek collects rare people who have become part of the journey, every step of the way.
In fine watchmaking, every little detail counts. Besides the exceptional SHX5 movement and the sleek and sharp design of the case or the dial, a great deal of attention was put on the bracelet. The feeling when placed on the wrist, the comfort in every situation and lightness are as important as the timepiece visual and technical qualities. The capability to be forgotten by its wearer and to suddenly reveal its stunning beauty create an intensely pleasurable dichotomy. This is why the Antarctique collection is equipped by an ergonomic brushed integrated bracelet, whose links mesh to form a highly polished “C” for Czapek. Since January 2022, this bracelet also features a micro-adjustment system, allowing the wearer to extend its lenght by few milimeters in an instant.
But there’s more. An additional strap is provided, as Czapek has developed an exclusive quick-change system allowing the wearer to switch from one strap to another in a minute. A large choice of straps is now offered to provide a maximum versatility and playful experience. 4 rubber straps whose pattern recalls the “Stairway to Eternity” design on the Passage de Drake dial are available in either black, white, dark blue or glacier blue. On top of that, a selection of soft calf straps with contrasting topstitches can be chosen.
The SXH5.01 automatic caliber is the first to be entirely conceived in-house by Czapek from a blank page. Every part of it has been made with care to detail and with the help of the top Swiss manufacturing partners and craftsmen, la crème de la crème, the magnificent orchestra directed by Czapek in the We Collect Rare People spirit. The microrotor, is placed off-center to allow a plunging view into the mechanism and its exceptional architecture. A free-sprung balance wheel with variable inertia provided by four gold adjustable weights enables the highest level of precision tuning. The gear train is held in place by a series of seven handsome skeletonized bridges. Their original shape is reminiscent of lace, inspired on one side by XIX century pocket watches, and by the very modern Czapek Faubourg de Cracovie chronograph’s rotor. The movement has superlative finishing on the bridges that merges Haute Horlogerie angling techniques with state-ot-the-art laser engravings.
Since the unveiling of its base movement in May, Czapek & Cie has been continually making improvements to its automatic caliber SXH5 to enhance its precision, performance, and aesthetic. The first upgrade has been to the micro-rotor that was previously in recycled 18-karat gold. Our watch’s designer and constructor decided to try a slightly larger rotor in platinum – 100% recycled – which brought 25% more power to the movement. The second upgrade came with a complete change of ball bearings under the micro-rotor. Both upgrades raised the train efficiency to 90% to fully wind the single barrel and deliver the impressive 60 hours of power reserve. This is a significantly longer autonomy than the average high-end sports watches
- Hours, Minutes & Seconds
- Date at 6 o’clock
- Calibre SXH5: Czapek’s in house self-winding mechanical movement
- Diameter: 30 mm – 13 lines ¼
- Height: 4.2 mm
- Number of parts: 193
- Jewels: 28
- Swiss lever escapement, variable-inertia balance fitted with four gold inertia-blocks
- Frequency: 4 Hz – 28800 VpH
- Power winding system: Micro rotor with an 100% recycled platinum mass
- Power-reserve > 60 hours on one single barrel
- Barrel torque: 8.8 Nmm
- Finish: Open ratchets, sandblasted black bridges, bevelling, straight-grained sides, six hand-chamfered inward angles
- Luminescent, steel “Sword” hands
- Second hand option: Red tip, Full red, Plain silver
- Stainless steel case
- 40.5 mm diameter
- Height: 10.6 mm
- Sapphire crystal glass-box with anti-reflective treatment ARDur©
- Sapphire crystal case-back with anti-reflective treatment
- Water-resistance: 120 meters (12 atm)
- Screwed-down crown
- Integrated stainless steel bracelet with Czapek exclusive “Easy Release” system and micro-adjustment device.
- Bracelet option : Satin & Polished or Brushed
- Additional rubber strap
- Extra option calf leather strap
- Stamped “flinqué” dial with the exclusive, officially registered “Stairway to Eternity” pattern
- Available in Ice White, Deep Blue, Black Ink and Glacier Blue Luminescent, steel “Sword” hands
- Luminescent, rhodium plated steel hour makers
- Conception: Daniel Martinez, Emmanuel Bouchet, Patrick Rossi & Xavier de Roquemaurel
- Components and movement manufacturing: AB Product, Arcofil, Atokalpa, Ceramaret, Chronode, CMT-Rickenbach, Comblemine, Crelier, Generale Ressort, Inca, Inodeco, Inhotec, MLV, MPS, Novasort, Precipro, Risa, Stocco and as well a few standard components.
- Habillage: AB Product, Capsa, Econorm, Gravages, HMS Waeber, Jean Rousseau, Metalem
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.