Encased in polished stainless steel, and featuring an absolutely mesmerising hand engraved silver dial, the Czapek Quai des Bergues Aurora Borealis limited edition is a superb watch with a captivating presence, and takes this pocket watch inspired collection into contemporary territory in an exclusive production of only ten pieces.
Modelled on a pocketwatch masterpiece from 1850 by François Czapek, the Quai des Bergues Aurora Borealis also takes its name from the address of the Geneva atelier and boutique where he had set up in business on his own, following a six year partnership with Antoine de Patek. During this time, the two young Czech masters honed their prodigious talents, side by side at the watchmaker’s bench, before separating in 1845 and embarking on careers which would immortalise Patek’s name, and bring great success to Czapek as well, although for he it would end in mysterious circumstances, when he simply vanished at the height of his achievements in 1869, leaving behind workshops and three boutiques across Europe’s finest cities, and an important legacy which has lain dormant for a century and a half.
Reborn in 2015, today Czapek watches are being manufactured by hand in Switzerland once again, working with specialist local artisans and combining traditional watchmaking skills with bespoke state of the art Haute Horlogerie and the Quai des Bergues Aurora Borealis is a connection with that prestigious watchmaking history, its distinctive layout evocative of the unique techniques and characteristics of his lavish eighteenth century pocket watches.
The polished stainless steel case has a round body and measures 42.5mm across, with a sculpted recess hollowed into its waist and curving lugs, while the shoulders either side of the crown complement the profile of the watch.
Beneath the gently domed sapphire crystal the silver bombé dial is quite outstanding, and to captivating effect the ‘Java’ guilloché decoration creates a hypnotizingly intricate pattern of overlapping circles, which ripple and fan out from around the two recessed subdials. A technique conceived by Czapek himself, each dial is executed to perfection on a manual rose engine onto a domed disc of gold, silver, palladium and platinum, and the detail is absorbing.
The hour and minute hands are blued steel with prominent skeletonised arrow tips, and the small constant seconds are displayed in the recessed subdial at the seven. In the other subdial at five, another Czapek novelty is the joint seven day power reserve and weekday indicator, originally devised as a convenient reminder of the weekly ritual in its time of winding one’s timepiece every Sunday evening.
It follows that the Quai des Bergues is powered by a hand winding movement with a seven day reserve, and from the underside, a sapphire glass exposes the proprietary Calibre SXH1, with its two skeletonised barrel ratchets, sandblasted bridges and cock revealing the balance and escapement. Designed and developed in collaboration with local Swiss Haute Horlogerie specialists Chronode, the movement is bespoke, and in its every detail, the bevelling and anglage is indicative of their uncompromising standards.
A superb watch which is individual and sophisticated, the Czapek Quai des Bergues Aurora Borealis is exclusive too, with only ten numbered pieces of this exceptional edition being produced.