Czapek Genève is an interesting independent brand with an unusual business approach and with great watches. In our meeting at Munichtime 2017, Xavier de Roquemaurel, CEO for Czapek told us smiling: “We like Deployant because Deployant likes us!” And yes, we like Czapek for their devotion to fine watchmaking and, most important, for the dedication towards its collectors. Xavier confesses to us that “Czapek is an emotional journey…” We agree. Having his last words in mind, we review today the Czapek Faubourg de Cracovie – the first chronograph of the Genovan brand.
Review: Czapek Genève Faubourg de Cracovie Chronograph
We have told about the history of the Czapek & Cie in our review of the magnificent grand feu enamel dial Quai des Bergues Fleur de Lys No 33. In the same article we “exposed” the unusual business model used to revive the prominent name, along with the modern history. Last year, Czapek Genève launched their first tourbillon watch – Place Vendôme Tourbillon Suspendu “Ici et Ailleurs” – a splendid name for a splendid watch. We would like to remind of the brand’s latest release: the Czapek Place Vendôme Tourbillon Suspendu Ici et Ailleurs featuring a special acanthus leaf engraving.
We learned earlier this year the brand acquired the watch No. 535 at Sotheby’s auction, with the help of the shareholders. This piece was made by Patek, Czapek & Cie in 1842 and it is an important step in consolidating the brand’s heritage and follows a purchase made in 2017 of a Czapek & Cie 1850s women’s pocket watch.
Before we go into details with the Czapek Genève Faubourg de Cracovie Chronograph, let’s have a look at the official video (our hands-on video is available a few paragraphs below):
The case, dial and hands
Faubourg de Cracovie Chronograph comes with three dial versions. The first is the Grand Feu – as the name suggests, the watch features a lovely white enamel dial with hidden signature (more about that later). The L’Heure Bleue name withdraws inspiration from the blue hour term – the period of twilight when the sun is below the horizon, and the predominating sky colour for approximatively twenty-minute is the blue. Dioné & Rhéa chronograph is inspired by two white moons of Saturn. If you have a look at these Nasa images, one understands perfectly the name origin for this black and white watch.
The 41.5mm steel case is inherited from the Quai des Bergues Fleur de Lys No 33. While the lines and main finishes are similar, the new case “transformed” to fit the chronograph movement. The new design is sportier, featuring some cutouts on the case sides. These cut out extend on the lugs as well. What was before an elongated crown protection, it is now cut into pushers. The integration is done smoothly and gracefully. The pushers offer a good haptic feeling, the feedback being precise.
The crown protection and the chrono pushers are satin-brushed with a nicely polished bevelled edge. The crown is designed following the known line of Czapek watches with polished surfaces. The crown is decorated with brand’s logo.
The case is mirror polished, with brushed and sandblasted sides. The bezel is raised, polished and features a sapphire crystal glass-box with anti-reflective treatment. The box crystal gives a vintage feel. It is possible, for those wanting an even more vintage feel, to order the Faubourg de Cracovie with Plexi crystal. The case back is fixed using seven screws. The calibre SXH3 is visible under a sapphire with inner anti-reflective treatment.
The dial is designed as two register chronograph with 12 hours / 30minutes indications symmetrical placed at nine, respectively at three o clock. The sunken subdial gives a distinct feel, increasing the visibility of chronograph function.
The small seconds and a colour matched date window are placed at six o’clock. We appreciate the effort taken to make the corresponding colour date disk. For the purist, who may prefer not too have a date, it also possible to order the watch without the date window.
The metal dials are decorated with a classical guilloché “Ricochet” which also appears in the the Quai des Bergues Collection. An important detail is the bombé shape, requiring a high expertise to be produced. The chrono-subdials are soldered to the main dial.
The white dial is obtained using the grand feu technique. The company doing these dials, Donzé Cadrans is one the most famous suppliers with an extensive experience. You can read all about this technique in our reportage, here. Interesting about the Czapek grand feu dials is the hidden signature visible in certain angles and light conditions. Please see the picture below.
The guilloché versions are adorned with baton applied indexes. For index at twelve o’clock, Arabic numerals are used. The chrono’s seconds register uses a mix of printed indexes and Arabic numerals, with red for the 60 seconds indices.
The grand feu versions features printed indexes using transfer technique, but with Roman numeral and a red twelve indices.
Faubourg de Cracovie is fitted with Rhodium plated steel hands. The Grand Feu has the hands blued for a most classical contrast. The hand’ shape is delicate and refined, being the same type as the Quai des Bergues. The general legibility is excellent.
The movement SXH3
Czapek Genève Faubourg de Cracovie Chronograph is powered by the Calibre SXH3. The movement is created in collaboration with Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier. The base is the SEED VMF 6710 ébauche, that we might also see in the future at other brands. The movement is the result of six years of development. For the moment, Czapek is the only watch manufacturer using it. The movement is personalised and decorated especially for Czapek Faubourg de Cracovie. It’s high speed of 5Hz assure chronometric precision. Moreover, the calibre SXH3 comes with a staggering power reserve of 65 hours. For an automatic movement is a lot.
Unfortunately, the picture above does not make a service to the beauty of the movement. Calibre SXH3 is decorated with finely sandblasted and diamond polished anthracite bridges, snailed trottoirs (French for sidewalks) and gold rotor. We hope that the hands-on video will reveal more of the watch and the calibre’s beauty.
The Czapek Faubourg de Cracovie is priced at CHF24,000. At this price, the chronograph is in the higher echelon of the sports watches. We need to remember always some reasons: an independent brand with a magnificent dial and fantastic movement by a renown ébauche manufacture. The technical details place the Faubourg de Cracovie in the list of the great chronographs like the Zenith El Primero. Let’s see some other watches with a strong impact on the emotional side.
The first independent, two register chronograph that comes to mind is the Tutima Tempostopp. Price at €28,600, the Tempostopp comes with no date but with flyback chronograph. The watch is beautiful, having roots on a vintage watch from the 40s. Its story is scattered with sadness but with the help of some enthusiastic people, the movement was redesigned from scratch and the Tempostopp was brought to life.
Perhaps a bold choice, clearly on completely different direction, is represented by the Hublot Big Bang Unico Red Magic. The reason behind this choice is the ultra-modern design with red ceramic. Priced at CHF24,900, the Red Magic is a statement. The watch is developed fully in-house, Hublot is proud of its capabilities of manufacturing the special coloured ceramic. The movement Hublot Unico Calibre HUB1242 is another in-house design with a 4Hz operating balance wheel.
A classical, at least by name choice would be represented by the Breguet Marine Chronograph. The Ref. 5527 comes with a price tag of CHF21,800 for the titanium case. The watch features a subtle maritime theme. Calibre 582QA has the same 12 hours, 30 minutes, date, small seconds configuration as our reviewed piece but with another dial layout configuration. As the other two pieces of this competitive landscape, the Breguet Chronograph has its own public.
As expected, we love the Czapek Faubourg de Cracovie in all three variants. While the Grand Feu is the most elegant and the Dioné & Rhéa is the most sporty, the L’Heure Bleue is a blue marvel. We are sure that all three pieces will be well received by the collectors. An elegant case with nicely integrated chrono-pushers, a beautiful dial satisfying three “powerful” designs wishes (referring to the reverse panda, blue and enamel dial) and a prominent name make these timepieces something special. We “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” and admit the Xavier is right, Czapek timepieces are an emotional choice. But in a tangible measure that can be easily explained: the name, the execution/result, the value. We all get emotional around beautiful watches.
Czapek Genève Faubourg de Cracovie Chronograph Specifications and price
The Czapek Faubourg de Cracovie is priced at CHF24,000. Each of the three versions is available in a series of 18 pieces, the individual number can be chosen freely from the ones still available. At the moment of writing this review, Dioné & Rhéa had available the numbers between 4 and 17, inclusive. The other two dial version have vacant the numbers between 4 and 18. For more information, please visit Czapek official Website.
Type: Haute Horlogerie integrated automatic Chronograph movement with a bespoke execution, Column Wheel, Vertical Clutch and Linear Hammer
Dimensions: Diameter Ø30mm – 13 lines 1/4; Height: 6.95mm
Power reserve: 65 hours
Frequency: 5 Hz – 36’000 VpH
Functions: Chronograph, Hours, Minutes & Seconds, Chronograph’s Minutes at 3 o’clock, Chronograph’s Hours at 9 o’clock, Small seconds at 6 o’clock, Date at 6 o’clock
Material: Stainless steel
Dimensions of the case: Diameter Ø 41.5mm
Crystal: Sapphire crystal Glass-Box with anti-reflective treatment
Caseback: Sapphire case back with Anti-reflective treatment on the inner side.
Water Resistance: 5bar /5atm / 50m
Material: Alligator Strap: Matt Black, Matt Blue Steel, Shiny Emperor Blue
Buckle: Stainless steel deploying buckle