Czapek Quai des Bergues No. 25bis
The Czapek Quai des Bergues No. 25bis is a modern-day wristwatch displaying the hours, minutes, seconds and day. It is inspired by a Czapek pocket watch of the 1850s. Angus Davies gets ‘hands-on’ with this exemplar of harmonious design.
‘Equilibrium’ is where physically opposing forces are in balance, where supply precisely meets demand and where an individual experiences a calm state of mind. Looking at the dial of the Czapek Quai des Bergues No. 25bis, I am struck by the equilibrium and sense of calm its dial bestows. No one element is in conflict with another. Indeed, there is a serenity and an aesthetic accord proffered with the styling of this timepiece. Therefore, I felt compelled to put pen to paper and write a review about this most elegant of timepieces.
The dial of each Czapek timepiece is inspired by a pocket watch made by the eponymous watchmaker in the 1850s, the number 3430. The cambered silver ‘Bombé soleillé dial’, as the name implies, features a sunray motif.
The hour and minute hands are gorgeously lithe, like two ballerinas on a stage. The tips of the blued steel hands are openworked, spanning the epidermis of the dial with a notable air of grace. The hours are marked with elongated Roman numerals, stretched in form, narrow in profile and elegant in appearance.
Towards the edge of the dial, the surface ebbs away, reducing in height and tapering to a flat surface near the periphery of the dial. This flat edge is adorned with a railway track or ‘chemin de fer’, which is used to indicate the minutes with succinct aplomb.
Positioned between 4 and 5 o’clock is an interesting day display. The twin tipped hand shows the day as well as the number of days of energy remaining (power reserve indicator). Located opposite, and conferring agreeable symmetry, a small seconds display features. Both of these subdials are snailed, adding to the interest of each.
Appraising this dial, one is struck by its harmonious composition and its noteworthy elegance. However, in pursuit of grace and beauty, no compromises have been made in terms of lucidity. Indeed, everything is highly legible with all indications simple to discern.
The stainless steel case measures 42.5mm in diameter, making this watch suitable for a broad range of wrist sizes. Interestingly, the stainless steel used is ‘XO Steel’ made by the Swiss steel company, Montanstahl. This company is an expert in making steel structures as well as creating special grades of stainless steel. The XO Steel is said to be more corrosion resistant than ‘normal’ stainless steel.
The crown nuzzles the caseband and barely protrudes. The crown protectors hug the caseband and prove unobtrusive. The lugs are relatively short and draw the strap close to the case. The sapphire crystal is curved, accentuating the domed profile of the dial.
Czapek has equipped this model with an exhibition caseback, providing sight of the hand-wound movement within.
An alligator leather strap, exuding a wonderful luxurious feel, is paired with an ‘XO’ steel pin buckle.
The Calibre SXH1 ‘haute horlogerie proprietary mechanical hand-wound movement’ bears a strong resemblance to the movement within the aforementioned 3430 pocket watch. The twin barrels uphold Czapek’s liking for symmetry, with each barrel arranged next to each other on a north-south axis.
The wheels are circular grained and the bridges are sandblasted. Some wheels are snailed while the screws are blued. There is also delightful anglage for the delectation of purists. The movement finishing, or finissage, is of the highest order and befits the appellation, ‘haute horlogerie’.
Another impressive aspect of the movement is its prodigious power reserve. The twin barrels collaborate to deliver 168 hours of autonomy.
Unlike the number 3430, the balance is not the traditional screwed variety, instead it subscribes to modernity. The balance oscillates to a frequency of 21,600 VpH (3Hz) and the movement contains 31 jewels.
This timepiece does not boast or shout with a loud colour scheme or wild design. Everything is wonderfully refined and tasteful.
The dial is an exemplar of lucidity and does not overburden the wearer’s eyes with too many indications. The case is neat and sits on the wrist comfortably courtesy of its restrained proportions, unobtrusive crown and short lugs which command the strap to encircle the wrist.
The Calibre SXH1 charmingly references the past, but does not ignore present-day know-how. The finissage is exemplary, reaffirming that this is a high quality timepiece worthy of comparison with the best.
The mastery of the Czapek Quai des Bergues No. 25bis lies in the cohesive design language; everything is in balance, with harmony and symmetry manifest in several areas. Indeed, this timepiece places much importance on aesthetic equilibrium and the wisdom of this is evident with every graceful arc and elegant line.
- Model: Czapek Quai des Bergues No. 25bis
- Case: ‘XO’ stainless steel; diameter 42.5mm; water resistant to 5 bar (50 metres); sapphire crystal to front and rear
- Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds; day; power reserve indication
- Movement: Calibre SXH1; hand-wound movement; frequency 21,600 vph (3Hz); 31 jewels; power reserve of 7 days
- Strap: Alligator leather strap presented on a XO stainless steel pin buckle
- Price: £9,230 (RRP as at 31.1.2017)