Czapek’s hugely successful Antarctique Passage de Drake returns with an icy Glacier Blue dial and a beautiful salmon dial. Introduced as a sequel to its Antarctique Terre Adélie model, Czapek‘s first incursion into the competitive terrain of luxury sports watches, the Antarctique Passage de Drake appeared in 2020 with a very special “Stairway to Eternity” dial and an upgraded automatic movement.
From past to present
Reviving a grandiose name from the annals of watchmaking is tricky at best. Some just use the name for its cachet; others try and rekindle the spirit and technological innovations of the historic brand and reinterpret them in a more contemporary language. The name François Czapek, the former partner of Antoine Norbert de Patek, did not quite have the sticking power of Patek’s. In 2015, three entrepreneurs decided to revive the name with an equity crowdfunding campaign funded in large part by watch collectors. It was a risky move, but their investment paid off as Czapek & Cie won the Public Prize prize at the GPHG in 2016 for its fledgling Quai des Bergues model based on a pocket watch produced by Czapek. Inspired by this recognition, Czapek spread its wings and moved from classical-inspired watches to more contemporary models with handcrafted dials (like the Faubourg de Cracovie), all the way forward to a luxury sports watch known as the Czapek Antarctique in 2020.
Avoiding the pitfall of creating yet ‘another’ luxury sports watch with a raised geometric bezel, the first Antarctique Terre Adélie had a 40.5mm barrel-shaped case with a flat, round sloping polished bezel, an integrated bracelet and a beautifully handcrafted dial with horizontal lines made by Metalem using a Lamé technique. The Czapek Antarctique Terre Adélie was powered by the brand’s first in-house movement, the SXH5 calibre, conceived from scratch by the brand’s constructor Dan Martinez, with parts manufactured by several partners.
Glacier Blue and Salmon
Just six months later, Czapek came out with the Antarctique Passage de Drake, the same watch but with a new dial pattern the brand calls “Stairway to Eternity”. I know the temptation to hum ‘that’ song is desperately hard to suppress, but we could describe the dial as a series of thin ribbons with peaks and valleys woven in metal or a three-dimensional chevron design. To be more prosaic, the pattern is described as a trapezoid motif with a stamped flinqué surface that produces a play of shadows across the dial. Interpreted in various colours, including black, deep blue and MONOCHROME’s 33-piece Montre de Souscription edition with a unique white grainé dial, the latest Passage de Drake models come with a Glacier Blue and a gorgeous salmon dial.
The salmon colour is obtained by a galvanic treatment (galvanoplastie), while the Glacier Blue is produced with a PVD (physical vapour deposition) treatment; both dials have been made with Czapek’s longtime partner Metalem. The applied indices have a hollowed central area that is filled with luminescent material to match that applied to the steel sword-shaped hour and minute hands. And like all Antarctiques, the date window is at 6 o’clock and has a background to match the dial colour.
À la carte options for customers interested in the new dials are expanding by the day. You can choose an Arabic 12 or a double index at noon; you can also select the colour of the seconds hand – either red, plain or with a red tip – and have a personal engraving on the caseback. Further customisation features include a fully brushed metal bracelet for a sportier (and less scratch-prone) finish, as well as a choice of additional straps in rubber or leather. Don’t forget, the Antarctique comes with an “Easy Release” system to switch straps and a new micro-adjustment on the metal bracelet.
Like the Antarctique Terre Adélie, the Passage de Drake shares the 40.5mm stainless steel case with its slim height of 10.6mm, a lug-to-lug measurement of 45mm and 120m water-resistance. Similarly, the integrated stainless steel bracelet has brushed and polished links with C-shaped middle links.
The beautiful finishings and distinctive architecture – with an off-centred platinum 950 micro-rotor and seven bridges – can be admired through the sapphire crystal caseback. Five of the bridges are openworked, offering an enviable view of the gear train and a transversal bridge spans the variable inertia balance wheel. Several upgrades since its debut in 2020 have translated into a larger platinum micro-rotor to replace the original 18k gold rotor and a complete change of the ball bearings under the micro-rotor, meaning that the movement can deliver a robust power reserve of 60 hours. The sandblasted black bridges add a contemporary touch coupled with traditional hand bevelling and polished angles.
Availability & Price
The Antarctique Passage de Drake Glacier Blue is part of the regular collection; the salmon dial is a limited edition of 99 pieces. Both models will be available at Czapek.com, at the flagship boutique in Geneva, and the brand’s official retailers worldwide as of 8 February 2022, with a retail price of CHF 19,500, EUR 19,000 or USD 22,000.