BY ERIK SLAVEN
Czapek introduced its first steel integrated sports watch in 2020 and it’s been wildly popular. They’re following the success of luxury brands like Audemars Piguet, Piaget and Patek Philippe (and the general craze of integrated sports watches), but this is certainly not a copycat collection. The design reminds me more of the H. Moser & Cie. Streamliner Centre Seconds than a Royal Oak or Nautilus, and it’s a perfect alternative to the more familiar names. This latest pair in the collection come with new dials in glacier blue or salmon, joining existing colors like deep blue, ice white, black ink.
The dial has a unique texture that looks like snake scales at a distance, but become a multi-dimensional weave of trapezoids at close inspection. At certain angles, it even resembles the twill weave of carbon fiber. The intricate design is not the result of engine turning, but a technique called flinqué – stamping to create geometric patterns. The work is done by Swiss dial maker Metalem and the pattern is called the “Stairway to Eternity.” The salmon hue is achieved with a galvanic treatment, while the blue is a PVD coating. Applied steel indices are polished and faceted with Super-LumiNova inserts, as are the sword-style hour and minute hands. Czapek offers a bit of customization with the dial, such as a double index or Arabic numeral at 12 o’clock, and different colors for the seconds hand. The steel bracelet can have polished center links or an all brushed finish as well. A color matching date window at 6 o’clock completes the dial.
The stainless steel case is 40.5mm in diameter with a thickness of 10.6mm, and is brushed with a polished bezel. The screw-down crown has a shallow, partial guard and allows for a water resistance rating of 120 meters. The guard rises from a recess in the case side, adding a bit of flair. There are sapphire crystals front and back with anti-reflective coatings, and the integrated steel bracelet has an “Easy Release” system that allows for tool-free removal for a rubber strap. The bracelet tapers from the case and has unique polished center links that again can have a brushed finish on request. The case has both a round and angled aesthetic with sharp edges joining curved lines, and it’s a fresh take on the sports watch theme.
Czapek’s in-house SXH5 caliber runs the show, which is a micro-rotor automatic that’s very well finished (although light on decorations). Sandblasted black plates and seven open-worked bridges contrast with silver and gold gears, screws and purple jewels, and the micro-rotor is solid platinum (100% recycled), which is an upgrade from 18k gold. It has a dramatic presence with inspiration from 19th century pocket watches. There are 28 jewels and it beats at 4Hz, and a single barrel provides approximately 60 hours of power reserve.
Both colorways are available now via Czapek retailers with a price of USD 22,000. That’s certainly not cheap, but significantly less than a Royal Oak or Nautilus, which average about USD 10,000 more. I also appreciate the unique styling and muted brand recognition. It’s a collection for the true watch connoisseur.
Visit Czapek here.