Since the name Czapek was resurrected in 2015, the company has released numerous variations of its first model, the Quai des Bergues. The timepiece was awarded the Public Prize at the 2016 GPHG. It was inspired by a pocket watch crafted by François Czapek made in the 1850s, the reference 3430, standing out with the unusual position of its subdials. Today, we go hands-on with one of the most elegant iterations of this collection, featuring an intense black grand feu enamel dial and a smaller steel case.
If crafting a fine white grand feu enamel dial is a challenge, doing the same with the colour black is even more demanding. Simply because black reveals the slightest flaw or dust. But the work of the Donzé Cadran craftsmen – one of the most revered enamel dial specialists in Switzerland and Czapek’s long-time partner – is superbly executed. Their dials are manufactured using the traditional grand feu method by applying several layers of enamel powder, which are then baked in a kiln after each consecutive layer. Each step is a potential risk for the dial to crack. The intense black colour, which only enamel can reveal, is captivating. In addition, the white Roman numerals provide a contrast that will never fade. The brand’s signature fleur-de-lys hands, fashioned out of white gold, bring an extra touch of classic elegance (and a reference to the early ref. 3430).
The round case of the Czapek Quai des Bergues is characterized by its distinctive crown shield, elongated lugs and a curved sloped bezel. The sapphire crystal is slightly curved. Fashioned out of stainless steel, the ‘S’ is the smaller version of this model. The watch is 38.5mm in diameter versus 42.5mm for the large iteration. Watch size really comes down to personal taste. But the Quai des Bergues S model is a supremely elegant and super comfortable option on the wrist – especially as smaller-faced watches are coming back. Water-resistance is of 50m.
Flipping the watch over, the exhibition caseback reveals the superb calibre SXH1, a proprietary movement manufactured and developed with Chronode, the Le Locle-based movement manufacturer. This hand-wound calibre ticks at 21,600 vibrations per hour and can store up to 7 days of power reserve, thanks to its twin-barrel architecture. It displays the hours, minutes, small seconds and the power reserve. The latter is shown in a subdial that can also be used to tell the days of the week. For instance, an option is to wind your watch on Sunday to keep track of the days. The movement is nicely finished with sandblasted bridges, handmade anglage, openwork spoked ratchets and blued screws.
The Czapek Quai des Bergues Black Enamel Small Model is worn on an alligator strap secured by a steel pin buckle. The watch is a limited production of 100 pieces in total – and 10 per year maximum. Price is set at CHF 16,000. For more information, please visit czapek.com.