A superb watch of sophisticated reserve from a young Swiss company upholding the legacy of an old and prestigious name, the Czapek Quai des Bergues No.35 bis is a beautiful marriage of traditional watchmaking and contemporary design, which is classical, elegant, and luxurious.
Named after the address in Geneva of a long-ago boutique, and inspired by a mid-1800s pocketwatch, the Quai des Bergues collection announced the return of a name indelibly woven into the rich tapestry of watchmaking history. It was in their adopted city of Geneva where two young Polish immigrants called François Czapek and Antoine de Patek set up in business together, and for six years between 1839 and 1845, working side by side, the two gifted watchmakers refined their prodigious talents, gaining a reputation in the highest circles for their lavishly crafted timepieces.
When that formative partnership ended, both would go on to illustrious careers and Patek’s next venture would see his name immortalised for all time. Czapek too enjoyed significant success as a celebrated and in-demand Master of Haute Horlogerie, with boutiques in Geneva, Paris and Warsaw and a clientele of European nobility. What happened to him is a mystery, and unexplained to this day, as he vanished without trace at the height of his fame in 1869, and suddenly it was over.
For the next century and a half, the Czapek name was to be found only in the history books, but reborn and with the debut of the magnificent Quai des Bergues wristwatch in 2015, which is based on the model 3430 Czapek pocket watch, one of his masterpieces from 1850, it has made an impressive return.
Encased in platinum with a beautiful enamel dial, the Quai des Bergues No.35 bis edition is a watch for the cognoscenti collector, which is distinctive in its contemporary styling, and traditional in its hands-on execution and enchanting old world features which are directly lifted from the pocket watch.
Beneath the gently domed sapphire crystal, the jet black dial has that lustre which is unique to Grand Feu enamel. Using a process of repeated layering and oven glazing, its glassy surface provides a perfect backdrop for the delicate hand painted roman numerals and fine minutes track around the edge of the dial.
A pair of large recessed subdials display the small constant seconds at the seven, and on the other the weekday/power reserve which the watchmaker had designed to be wound on a Sunday evening, with a seven day reserve is an unusual Czapek novelty.
The hands are very fine, in keeping with the fashion of the mid-1800s pocketwatch, and on the hours and minutes hands, a fleur de lys decoration underlines the meticulous attention to detail which has been put into this beautiful watch.
Of course for Czapek, the beauty is much more than skin deep, and to power their Quai des Bergues collection, a bespoke movement was designed and created Chronode. From its two barrels the SXH1 Calibre manual winding movement derives an impressive seven days of power reserve. A sapphire caseback reveals the mechanical heartbeat and its finishing which is as exquisite as on the other parts of the watch.