Geneva-based Czapek is a crowdfunding-supported brand named for François Czapek, a 19th-century Polish watchmaker who opened what is believed to be the first high-end watch boutique on France’s famed Place Vendôme. Czapek’s Place Vendôme collection pays tribute to that history, and the newest addition to the haute-de-gamme series, the Place Vendôme Ombres, will be front and center among the brand’s highlight timepieces at the annual WatchTime New York collectors’ event in October.
The unconventional dial layout of the Place Vendôme features an off-centered hours and minutes display on a subdial at 12 o’clock, two subdials at 4:30 and 7:30 — the former hosting a GMT function on a “dragging” second-time-zone disk, the latter, the suspended cage of the one-minute tourbillon — and a subtle day-night indicator at 6 o’clock that rotates, like the GMT disk, counterclockwise. Framing the whole ensemble is the movement’s exposed, anthracite-colored, sandblasted plate with steel sandblasted bridges. (“Ombres” — French for “shadows” — likely refers to the watch’s array of gray tones.)
The Ombres version of the watch, which debuted this year along with the platinum-cased, diamond-set Etincelles, uses a grade 5 titanium case measuring 43.5 mm in diameter. The smoky gray, brass champlevé dial for the main time display has a black enamel outer ring and two arrow-shaped hands in white gold, replacing the Fleur de Lys hands of previous Place Vendôme models, and treated with Super-Luminova. The use of simple hour indices, plus an Arabic numeral “12,” rather than Roman numerals on this dial’s outer ring is another subtle distinction the Ombres model has from others in the collection. One more subtle display of functionality is the semicircular power reserve display, artfully integrated into the 12 o’clock subdial.
Inside the case, and visible through a sapphire caseback, is the proprietary, manual-wind movement, Caliber SXH2, which Czapek developed with the complications specialists at Chronode SA. It ticks at a frequency of 21,600 vph and amasses a 60-hour power reserve in a single mainspring barrel. The caliber is relatively large, at 34.8 mm in diameter, but also slender, at 9.8 mm in thickness despite its technical complexity. The bridges visible from the back are circular beveled, sandblasted, and chamfered by hand in the finishing stage, and the visible openworked ratchet was a signature features of Czapek’s Quai des Bergues watch, which won the Public Prize at the 2016 Geneva Grand Prix and thus ensured this indie brand a spot on the modern haute horlogerie map.
Delivered on an alligator strap with a titanium buckle, and strictly limited to 25 pieces (priced at 88,000 CHF, or about $87,000), the Czapek Place Vendome Ombres will will be among the new and exciting timepieces on display from the 36 luxury watchmakers attending this year’s WatchTime New York. Don’t delay; click here to order your tickets now!