Anyone even close to the orbit of the world of Swiss luxury watches needs no introduction to the name Antoine Norbert de Patek. Maybe not so for one Franciszek Czapek but at one time these two names stood side by side.
1811 saw the birth of Franciszek Czapek in Semonice, Bohemia or the modern-day Czech Republic. During his youth his family emigrated to Poland. In 1832 Franciszek was an active participant in the Polish uprising. After the up-risings failure Franciszek was forced to flee to Switzerland. Already a gifted watchmaker upon arriving in Switzerland he soon founded his first watch company Czapek & Moreau with a local partner. Also, around the same time he Gallicized his name to Francois.
It was by chance in 1836 that Francois Czapek met Antoine Norbert de Patek also a Polish emigrant and also a survivor of the insurrection. It wasn’t until three years later in 1839 that Czapek encouraged his countryman to enter the world of fine watchmaking. On may the 1st 1839 they founded the watch company Patek Czapek & Cie.
This polish partnership may have only lasted 6 years but during that time several exceptional timepieces were created. Their contract expired in April of 1845 at which time both men continued the path of fine watchmaking.
Patek as stated before needs no further representation here. But on May 1st 1845 Czapek with a new partner Juliusz Gruzewski founded Czapek & Cie.
By 1850 Czapek had risen to prominence as one of the greatest watchmakers of the 19th century even supplying watches to Prince Napoleon. At the company’s pinnacle of success, it boasted boutiques in Geneva, Warsaw and Paris, Place Vendome.
Then in 1869 Czapek disappears. For unknown reasons still not fully understood to this day, the company supposedly changed hands due to Czapek’s illness or death. His date of death is still unknown. A stem-winding calendar pocket watch contains the French inscription “Former Establishment Czapek and Company / No. 10630 / A. Chaillet Successor / 84 Rue du 4 Septembre / Paris”, is one piece of evidence that the company continued for a short period after 1869. End of story, right? Well not quite.
Fast forward to 2012 when 3 entrepreneurs re-established the Czapek name then spent 3 years creating a library of his timepieces to study and therefore better understand the man and the brand. Next in 2015 with new designs in hand the company became the first Haute Horlogerie Company to offer connoisseurs worldwide a hand in the revival of the brand through a crowdfunding
campaign. By 2016 they had won the coveted Public Prize at the Grand Prix d’ Horlogeria de Genève. Not a part starts for a forgotten name.
The launch collection named Quai des Bergues has a unique look with 2 sub dials on the bottom half of the dial, a design touch from the original Czapek & Cie watch No. 3430 originally introduced in 1850. It is powered by a 7-day proprietary movement developed in partnership with Chronode (Jean Francois Mojon.) The leading model of this collection No.33 bis was the winner of the Public Prize.
One year later 2017 saw the introduction of their second collection, Place Vendome, a limited edition suspended tourbillon with a second time zone. 2018 saw the 3rd collection The Faubourg de Cracovie line which features a contemporary integrated column wheel chronograph with a vertical clutch.
So, with its first beginnings over 180 years ago alongside Antoine Patek can this now young independent Swiss watch brand make up for lost time and rise to the top of horological prominence once again? Only the next 180 years will tell that story.