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The dream of François Czapek CZAPEK & Cie

Czapek & Cie unveils its latest creation. The young, subscriber-supported brand will use the Baselworld trade fair platform to reveal its bold new venture into the world of ultra-limited series and high-end complications.

The new collection is named Place Vendôme, after the famous square in Paris where François Czapek, spiritus rector of the brand, opened a boutique in the mid-nineteenth century, assumed to be the first haute horlogerie boutique ever onthis world famous square. The first line of watches in the collection features a one-minute suspended tourbillon. It comes together with a second time zone for today's world travelers, a day/night disk, and a classic power reserve indictor.

Even with the new functionalities, lovers of the brand will easily recognize the watch's unusual look with the two subdials at 7:30 and 4:30. On the Place Vendôme, a third has been added at 12 o'clock to display the time. The first series, which

will come in a limited edition of ten pieces in platinum and fifteen in Rose Gold, was named “Lumières.” It refers to both the reflections flashing off the beveled edges of the bridges visible on dial side as well as to the Age of Enlightenment, whichultimately produced the tourbillon, the ultimate balance between science and mechanical poetry.

“It was a big challenge and an adventure to create such a technically advanced timepiece,” says Xavier de Roquemaurel, CEO of Czapek & Cie. “We relied not only our horizontal approach to watchmaking, which brings together a team of outstanding industry craftsmen, but also on the passion for haute horlogerie shared by all those who love and share in this project.”

For the 2016 winners of the Public Prize of the Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève, the Place Vendôme goes further into channeling the spirit of François Czapek. The characteristic grand-feu enamel of the Quai des Bergues is still used for the dial, as are the fine “fleur de lys” hands pointing to sleek Roman numerals. They are now joined by an anthracite bead-blasted mainplate and suspended bridges of polished steel.

From a technical standpoint, the watch represents an evolution from the more staid, romantic Quai des Bergues. A day-night disc turning counterclockwise has inserted itself between the two subdials, which now carry the tourbillon on the left and the second time zone on the right. The power reserve indicator migrated and now peers out of the clock face at 12 o'clock.

“François Czapek was a modern thinker with a deep sense of traditional watchmaking,” says de Roquemaurel. “This watch is no doubt he would have dreamt of, and it connects his thoughts about watchmaking esthetics and techniques to the future.” The Place Vendôme “Lumières” is driven by the proprietary, manually wound SXH2 movement beating at 21,600 vph (3 Hz).

The single barrel spring delivers a solid 60 hours of power. The 34.8-millimeter diameter is relatively large, but the height of 9.8 millimeters allows the watch to be discreet and elegant in spite of the many functions. The traditional satin-brushed bridges and openworked ratchet are back again. In the back of the watch is an inscription: Tourbillon suspendu – Ici et Ailleurs, a reference to the second time zone, a gift to global travelers that Czapek himself never knew.

Technical specifications


• Hours and minutes on separate dial located at 12 o'clock

• One-minute tourbillon located at 8 o'clock

• Dragging second time zone on ring at 4 o'clock.

Push-piece setting. Counter-clockwise rotation

• Day/night indicator located at 6 o’clock.

Counter-clockwise rotation

• Power reserve: Off centre disk, located at 12, 90Æ

rotation, winding counter-clockwise



• Caliber SXH2: haute horlogerie proprietary mechanical

hand-wound movement developed by Chronode

and Czapek & Cie

• Power reserve: 60 hours with one barrel spring

• Frequency: 3 Hz – 21,600 VpH

• Diameter: 34.8 mm – 15 ó lines

• Height: 9.8 mm



• Front: anthracite sand-blasted plate, steel bridges with

sandblasting, circular graining, and polish

• Tourbillon: polished, chamfered and with flanks drawn.

One blue screw marks the seconds

• Case back: open ratchet with circular bevelling,

sand-blasted bridges, blue screws, manual chamfering



• 5platinum Pt950 case

• 43.5 mm diameter

• Curved sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment

on both sides

• Sapphire crystal case back with anti-reflective treatment

on both sides

• Water-resistance: 30 meters (3 atm)

• Alligator strap with 5N Rose Gold or platinum buckle



• “Grand feu” Enamel ring, steel polished bridges and sand-blasted plate


• 5N Rose Gold “fleur de lys” hands


• 10 pieces in platinum Pt950 numbered 1/10 to 10/10

• 15 pieces in 5N Rose Gold numbered 1/15 to 15/15

Who's who

“You look like a nice guy, so I agree that we meet but my objective will be to convince you not to do it! “ These were the first words Xavier de Roquemaurel recalls about Laurent with a smile. “We were in 2013, and this was the beginning of a unique relationship.” Xavier was in his first year of preparing Czapek’s relaunch with Harry Guhl and Sebastien Follonier the watchmaker. He was full of energy but also very conscious of his limitations. “I had had the chance to loose my job (yes it can be a chance but it takes time to see it like this) and was feeling very impressed to be here with Laurent. We met, various times, and he became one of the most critical brand advisors out of the 12 people that we selected for that task.” Hopefully Laurent did not convince Xavier to give up. 


Yet the mission of the Czapek team was nearly impossible: the specifications of reviving François Czapek were unmatchable, the business was over crowded and mature, the resources were scarce, the business model seemed unrealistic… these ‘conversations’ turned out to become an incredible melting pot of high end watchmaking experiences… “An extraordinary watch has to do two things at the same time, it has to strike the newbie, who will be impressed by its beauty without understanding its mechanical dimension, and at the same time it has to fascinate the connoisseur who will look at it with a loupe, and smile silently.” Xavier was eager to learn, and these words from Laurent resonated in his mind. He would work and rework with the team every design, every detail, every aspect of their plan until getting to the perfection. “They wanted to achieve something impossible: launch a brand with half a million, raise a million in crowd funding, and sell in the first year 250 watches at the peak of the worse crisis in the industry. This boldness was unique. After two years, they came with the first models, the Quai des Bergues in gold and in titanium. The gold models were beautiful. The level of execution was way above any of the 3D renders we are used to see” recounts Laurent. One element behind these successful first steps is the collaborative approach that the Czapek team follows. They welcome problems and sit together with their suppliers until inventing a solution, which then becomes an innovation. “We try to free the people we work with to help them give the best they can” admits Xavier. “Alone we can’t do much, and our vision is to remain true to the style of the initial founder, François Czapek… so we need the contribution of each stakeholder.” The 21st-century Quai des Bergues does not imitate the past, though. It was carefully designed as though François Czapek had continued working to this day. On November 2, 2015, eight days precisely before launching the brand, the two men were seated in one of their favourite spot in the rue Saint Honoré, sharing a legendary Croque Monsieur at lunch, and Laurent concluded this new chapter in the history of Czapek with a simple “let’s do it!”. In the end it’s all about people and passion… The next chapter is now in 2016 with the subscription in the spring and the first watches available in the fall...

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