Spoil / 17 Dec 2018

Watches | Czapek

Franciszek Czapek (born 1811) was a Polish watchmaker of Czech origin and an associate of Antoine Norbert de Patek, a fellow Pole also living in Switzerland. His name, while not widely known, is synonymous with prestige. Czapek's treasured timepieces are rare and very coveted by nobility then and by collectors today. Among his most prestigious clients was none other than Napoleon the III。 The French Emperor who granted him the title "Horloger o ciel de la Cour Impériale". He had a boutique on Place Vendôme in Paris and on Quai des Bergues in Geneva, the two hubs of luxury at the time.
The interest of these master watchmakers harnessed to the stunning communicative force of current electronic networks drew them to Switzerland, first to the little town of Versoix, then to neighbouring Geneva. There, in the veritable cradle of global watchmaking, they were firmly committed to reviving the name and giving it all the radiance it deserves.

One of the greatest watchmakers around 1850

The meeting between Czapek and Patek in 1836 was to change the lives of the two men. Patek shed his military past and joined in the creation of the company Patak,Czapek & Cie on May 1, 1839.

The partnership between François Czapek and Antoine Norbert de Patek lasted six years. During that time, they sold a number of exceptional timepieces. And then, each man went his own way. Patek associated with Adrien Philippe and created a new company. For his part, Czapek - who had already started a business venture with a certain Moreau shortly after arriving in Switzerland - founded Czapek & Cie on May 1, 1845, with a new partner, Juliusz Gruzewski.

Famous watches, prestigious clients

The new Czapek & Cie was a genuine success. Its fame soon spread beyond Switzerland's borders, and its watches found particular favour among Europe's nobility. They were very sought after by prestigious clients. Among them - surely the most powerful and in uential one - was the French Emperor, Napoléon III. An avid and loyal customer, he regularly sent in orders. He even granted François Czapek the illustrious and extraordinary title of "Horloger de la Cour Impériale" (Watchmaker to the Imperial Court).
François Czapek kept his atelier on Quai des Bergues, but opened a boutique in Paris, on Place Vendôme, and another in Warsaw. He was intent on passing his know-how down to the next generation, and so he wrote a book on watchmaking, the first one of its kind written in polish. He was on his way to publishing a second work but died. The date of his passing has never been pinned down.
The man, as we know him, was honest, erudite, and equipped with a strong work ethic and a passion for excellent watchmaking that would continue to glow over 200 years after his birth. The motto that perhaps best sums up his life might be: "François Czapek, success born of perseverance."

The 2016 collection Innovation: a new material Horizontal manufacturing, a symphony of crafts. An auspicious future

The magnificent pocket watch bearing the reference number 3430, manufactured by Czapek & Cie in Geneva around 1850 already suggests an exciting future. For those who love authenticity, it represents a superb field for exploration chock full of potential. Indeed, at the dawn of the third millennium, François Czapek's work remains stunningly modern. It is perfectly timeless and very inspiring for anyone ready to imagine the possibilities of how it might evolve with time.

Down memory lane

Remaining true to the name François Czapek, in order to restore it to its rightful historic place and pave its way to a future in haute horlogerie, necessitated a careful reading of the past to extract some of the identifying features of this great watchmaker. This huge job was performed by the team in charge of relaunching his name and keeping it in the public eye. They meticulously analysed a large sampling of historical pieces.

The Czapek style

The question is: was there and will there be a "Czapek style"? In a nutshell, the evidence is in the magnificent pocket watch bearing the reference number 3430 and made in Geneva by Czapek & Cie around 1850. And it does reveal a clear Czapek style. He not only steeped his timepieces in his chronometric science, but he also gave them a special aesthetic aura, one that was true to his identity.