Czapek Genève: independent watchmaking and crowdfunding
Baselworld is right around the corner and in this week’s post I’d like to tell you more about another fascinating Swiss watchmaker, Czapek Genève.
The history of this company goes well back in time and has also a fair amount of mystery to it, we’ll come to that shortly, but first: Identikit.
WHO: Czapek Genève.
WHAT: Hand-made Swiss timepieces, inspired by original designs of the XIX Century..
WHEN: Established in 1845 and relaunched in 2012, it’s the first Haute Horlogerie Company revived by watch connaisseurs worldwide.
WHY: The entrepreneurs that relaunched the company thought that it was the most beautiful brand to revive thanks to its glorious past and wanted to create an inclusive company, open to shareholders with a passion for watchmaking.
Franciszek Czapek was a talented Czech-Polish watchmaker that fled to Switzerland in the 1830s and shortly after having met with Antoine Norbert de Patek, they founded the company Patek, Czapek & Cie, on May 1st, 1839. During six years of partnership they created several exceptional timepieces but at the end of the contract, in 1845, they dissolved the partnership and each went his own way: Czapek established Czapek&Cie and Patek founded what then became the famed Patek Philippe & Co.
Czapek was quickly recognized as one of the greatest watchmakers of the nineteenth century: with signature features like elongated roman numbers, thin hands and exquisite incisions, the company was appointed Purveyor to the Imperial Court, Watchmaker of His Imperial Highness, Prince Napoleon and at its height, Czapek had boutiques in Geneva, Warsaw and Paris, Place Vendôme.
Then, in 1869, François (he had in the meantime Gallicized his name) Czapek vanished.
The brand was forgot for almost a century and a half, until 2011 when three entrepreneurs and watch lovers, Xavier de Roquemaurel, Harry Guhl and Sébastien Follonier came together to revive Czapek.
In 2012 the company was relaunched and its development funded by an unprecedented equity campaign in 2015, raising over 2 million CHF and bringing together more than 100 watch lovers and entrepreneurs from around the world. A second round of crowdfunding that ended in January 2019 has proven equally successful.
This is what I personally find absolutely beautiful about this company and its history: the revival of a brand with such heritage was made possible by the vision of three entrepreneurs willing to share their passion and the technology that allowed them to put together watch lovers from everywhere in the world.
In an effort to remain as faithful as possible to Czapek's spirit and style, in 2015 they created the first model of the collection based on the design of Czapek pocket watch No. 3430 dating back to the 1850s. They adapted the ‘face’ design to modern standards and sizes and created a proprietary caliber, SXH1, in collaboration with Swiss movement maker Jean-François Mojon of Chronode, inspired by the original movement of the pocket watch.
Thanks to these efforts, in 2016 Czapek won the Public Prize at the GPHG for the timepiece Quai de Bergues No. 33bis: a gorgeous timepiece whose name pays tribute to the company’s founding address, featuring a generous gold case with beautiful curves, a grand feu enamel dial and a manually-wound movement with 7 days power reserve, double barrel, open ratchets, manual beveling finish and sandblasted bridges.
Since then, every year the company has launched a new collection with a new calibre: the Place Vendôme in 2017 and the Faubourg de Cracovie in 2018, both available in limited quantities.
The Place Vendôme is a beautiful Tourbillon & GMT evolution of the Quai de Bergues: featuring a platinum or gold rose case with (upon request) acanthus leaves hand-engravings and a proprietary movement characterized by two subdials (suspended tourbillon and second time zone ), a day-night disc between them and a single barrel providing 60 hours of power reserve, this exquisite timepiece retails from 105’000CHF and up to 120’000CHF.
Click on the images below to activate a nice slideshow :D
The Faubourg de Cracovie is Czapek’s first Chronograph and its movement was built by Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier in the Jura mountains: it features a stainless steel case with crown protectors serving as pushers, traditional and unmistakably Czapek but with a modern flair; customers can choose between a grand feu enamel dial or different color ways of a handcrafted Guilloché “Resonance” dial, all for the price of 24’000CHF.
Same as above, click on the images below to activate the slideshow ;)
2019 has seen so far the opening of Czapek’s first store in Geneva, a concept boutique designed like a cozy living room, with customer experience in mind. The event was celebrated with the launch of the Quai des Bergues “Midnight in Geneva”, a special edition limited to 18 pieces, characterized by exclusive dark blue Aventurine dial and “Fleurs de Lys” white gold hands. We’ll see if Baselworld 2019 will deliver more news ;)
Even though carrying a special heritage, Czapek is a young brand and is presently focusing on its development strategy for the future: productions are limited to around 130 pieces per year and they will remain quite small, as the company invests more important budgets in product research&development than in communication.
And I don’t think it could be otherwise: considering that the majority of its shareholders are watch lovers, it seems fair to say that they’re looking to transform the renown of the past in quality timepieces for the future.
There you go, feel-good story that I hope will accompany you into a splendid weekend!!!