Czapek Quai Des Bergues No.33 BIS
Angus Davies reviews the Czapek Quai Des Bergues No.33 BIS.
The Czapek Quai Des Bergues No.33 BIS features a secret signature and a personal secret sentence written inside the grand feu enamel dial.
There is something exciting about possessing a piece of information known to only a trusted few. In some instances this knowledge can have illicit connotations and possession of such information could even be described as sordid.
On the face of it Czapek has created a paradox. On one hand, the dial of the Quai Des Bergues No.33 BIS provides the opportunity for a secret message to be imparted to the dial, while on the other hand its dial is so pure and virtuous, it does not seem possible that it could hide any secret. This contradiction proves fascinating and recently led me to investigate further.
The grand feu enamel dial has a delightful lustre to its form. Having been baked to a high temperature, circa 800°C, any detail on the dial is imbued with a lasting permanence which will not fade with the onset of years.
The Fleur de Lys hour and minute hands are presented in black gold. The hands are supremely slender, measuring only 0.35mm in depth, created with a tool capable of precision as low as 0.10mm. Beyond the thin characteristic of the hands, they evince a notable air of grace and style.
Roman numerals denote the hours. Each Roman numeral is slim, elongated and elegant. A chemin de fer encircles the dial.
At 4:30 is a power reserve indicator. In bygone times, watches were wound on Sunday after Mass. The Calibre SXH1 has a power reserve of at least 7 days, hence the twin-tipped hand shows the number of days of available energy together with the prevailing day (assuming the watch was wound on Sunday).
Positioned between 7 and 8 o’clock is a small seconds display. The seconds hand features a counterweight which emulates the larger Fleur de Lys hands. Arabic numerals are employed every 10 seconds with a simple stroke in between. The periphery of the subdial is adorned with a chemin de fer.
The signature of François Czapek is secretly positioned on the small seconds dial. Adjacent 2 o’clock is a personal secret sentence applied to the dial surface. To view both the signature and the sentence, one has to position the watch in such a way that a beam of light reveals both secrets.
The ‘secrets’ are very subtly expressed and do not mar the clean, pure dial aesthetic. Nothing detracts from the beauty of the dial or the tasteful means in which it expresses time. Furthermore, the dial is an exemplar of lucidity, always imparting information in clear and unequivocal tone.
The 5N red gold case measures 42.5mm in diameter and seems optimally sized for a timepiece of this nature. Indeed, there is a ubiquitous sense of refinement and sophistication with the Quai Des Bergues No.33 BIS.
On the right hand flank of the case crown protectors discreetly originate from the lugs, neatly hugging the case-band and gently kissing the sides of the crown. The subtle mien of the crown protectors and their minimal protrusion from the case ensures that the overall silhouette of the case remains virtually symmetrical.
The sapphire crystal is curved which, despite featuring anti-reflective treatment on the inner surface, can lead to a little glare in some lighting conditions.
The lugs have a curved profile, guiding the strap downwards and proving ideal for small wrists.
The Calibre SXH1 within the Quai Des Bergues No.33 BIS was inspired by the pocket watch N°3430, created by François Czapek in the 1850s.
The movement has a prodigious power reserve of 168 hours (7 days). Congruent with the symmetry presented dial side, the movement shows much balance with its architecture. Two large open-worked ratchet wheels dominate the movement vista. At the heart of each are blued screws.
Circular-grained wheels are another testament to the high-end, no-compromise creation of this movement. The anglage is exemplary with all bevels gleaming resplendently. The bridges are sandblasted and look most becoming.
The frequency of the balance is 21,600 VpH (3Hz) and the movement contains 31 jewels.
This movement is executed to an impressively high standard.
Readers with flamboyant tendencies may fail to grasp the subtlety of the Czapek Quai Des Bergues No.33 BIS. Indeed, ‘subtlety’ is a word which repeatedly seems most apt when describing this comely Swiss creation.
Everything is discrete and refined to a high standard. The dial is simple to interpret but is imbued with a myriad of delicate details. Nothing is excessive or gauche. Indeed, everything is delivered in seemly fashion, free of the extraneous but blessed with smile-evoking details.
The case is cleverly designed with the crown neatly nuzzling the case-band and not disrupting the overall sense of symmetry. In fact, symmetry is a trait which can even be seen with the movement which presents two open-worked ratchet wheels poised and beautifully balanced.
The Czapek Quai Des Bergues No.33 BIS has secrets but there is nothing sordid or shameful to be discovered. Moreover, the secrets on the dial are barely visible and likely to be known only to the wearer. Most pertinently, the greatest secret of this watch is that it proffers much virtue, presented in a sumptuous and seemly form.
• Model: Czapek Quai Des Bergues No.33 BIS
• Case: 18-carat 5N red gold; diameter 42.5mm; water resistant to 3 bar (30 metres); sapphire crystal to front and caseback.
• Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds; power-reserve indicator.
• Movement: Calibre SXH1; hand-wound movement; frequency 21,600 VpH (3Hz); 31 jewels; power reserve 168 hours.
• Strap: Alligator leather strap with gold pin buckle.
• Price: CHF 25,900 (RRP as at 16.6.2017)