“Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.” – Confucius

Czapek & Cie – Quai Des Bergues

At the Geneva Watch Days Czapek presented new models in the Quai Des Bergues line. The novelties have beautiful enamel dials and an updated calibre. 

Czapek & Cie. has a few big hits, lately the Antarctique stainless-steel everyday timepiece grabbed quite some attention – released last year and sold-out quickly in some editions. It is a great watch indeed but I have a soft spot for the Quai Des Bergues collection. It was the first line of the revived Czapek brand (Xavier de Roquemaurel, Harry Guhl and Sébastien Follonier re-established a watchmaking manufacture under the Czapek name in 2012. They chose an interesting way to finance the development: find investors through an equity crowd-funding campaign). The original Czapek’s atelier was established in 1845 in the Quai des Bergues in Geneva, hence the name.

My favourite Quai Des Bergues was the 38.5mm Quai des Bergues No.33bis – an astonishing, elegant piece that evokes the generous round shape of pocket watches with its classic gold case. It has a Grand Feu white enamel dial made by the master artisan of the manufacturing partner Donze Cadrans in Le Locle. 

Czapek Quai Des Bergues Emerald Green and Sapphire Blue

Now Czapek introduced two new great enamel dials for the steel Quai Des Bergues, the Emerald Green and Sapphire Blue in size L (42.5mm). These models have a very intense, handmade enamel dial, in  ‘flinqué’ (meaning the dial has hand-engraved intersecting straight or wavy lines) with the Czapek-exclusive Ricochet pattern. The pattern was inspired by ripples – when you throw a pebble into the water, it pushes water out of the way, making a ripple that moves away from the centre. The engraved metal surface under the enamel gives an outstanding hue to the colours, it slightly differs as the sunshine hits the watch face. 

Being true to the originally-released Quai Des Bergues pieces, the novelties have Roman numerals and distinctive rhodium-plated Fleur de Lys hands.

The calibre driving the watch, the manually wound, seven-day power reserve SXH1, has been given a careful make-over. ‘The spirit of the watch has not been touched,’ says Czapek CEO Xavier de Roquemaurel, ‘but we have had a second look at the movement and identified what you might call evolutionary inflection points.’

The SXH1 update brought extensive openwork on the back side of the watch. It exposes the gear-train and the bridge plate and balance bridge have also been hollowed out. 

The new movement received a new finishing – the edges have been softened by deeper chamfering. The regular jewels of the movement – used as bearings for the pivots to reduce friction – were replaced with ‘mi-glace’ (glazed) rubies. These have a rounded relief that improves lubrication on the point of contact with the axes. They can also add more depth and a more fluid look to the movement and they can easily catch the incoming rays of light. 

The new SXH1 has an annular balance wheel with weights for variable inertia and a Breguet terminal curve balance spring. (The original balance in the former calibre had a classic rack and index for regulation.) The balance cock has also been finely skeletonised and streamlined to give the whole balance greater transparency. The movement runs at 3 Hz (21,600 vibrations per hour) and has 72 hours of power reserve. 

Maybe it’s worth adding that Czapek released a size S (38.5mm) of the Quai Des Bergues Sapphire Blue in a limited edition of 100 pieces in 2019, with the original calibre of course. Currently this timepiece is on the Czapek website but with different kinds of hands, not the Fleur de Lys.