February 15, 2019
by Rob Nudds
As a global community of watch collectors, lovers, and analysts, I’m sure we’ve all had the same thought that ultimately inspired Czapek & Cie to create these four new Czapek & Cie Faubourg de Cracovie watches: “I like that model, but I wish it had XYZ…”
The story goes that Czapek made a special Quai des Bergues model for a collector, who requested a salmon dial with blue hands and markers. They were apparently surprised by the beautiful result. Consequently, development of the new Faubourg de Cracovie range began. Four models, each named after the four most common breeds of salmon in the Pacific (obviously), were conceived.
Allow me to present the Chinook, Coho, King, and Sockeye models. The only difference among them is the distribution of the signature salmon, blue, and silver elements. The Coho is identified by its salmon guillochéd dial and silver sub-dials; the Chinook stands out for its blue dial; the King features an all-salmon setup; and the Sockeye is the only model to sport blue sub-dials.
Before we dive into the merits and demerits of the colors and their applications, let’s look at the aspects that all these models share.
The Czapek & Cie Faubourg de Cracovie watches are powered by the proprietary SXH3. This 5Hz automatic chronograph mechanism is made exclusively for Czapek & Cie by Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier. Boasting a 65-hour power reserve, a golden rotor weight, a column wheel, a vertical clutch, and a linear hammer, this caliber is no slouch. These features combine to provide a very user-friendly experience.
Firstly, the linear hammer and vertical clutch provide an immediate start for the chronograph. Secondly, the column wheel ensures a reliability and a deliberate feel to the pushers when actuated. Finally, the 36,000vph operating speed results in a smooth-sweep seconds hand akin to the iconic El Primero movements, which ticks at the same rate. Most importantly, it is clear by the technical decisions made that Czapek & Cie are not about cutting corners.
All four models are presented in the same case. Machined from 316L stainless steel, the Czapek & Cie Faubourg de Cacovie case measures 41.5mm. The dial is displayed beneath a cool box sapphire with a subtle vintage feel. The inner workings can be viewed with absolute clarity, thanks to the internal anti-reflective treatment applied to the front and back sapphire crystals.
The nicest thing about this case, for me, aside from the exquisite finishing, is the chronograph pushers. A similar profile is used for the crown protectors on non-chronograph models. They, like the movement itself, form an interestingly modern counterpoint to the classical dial.
Czapek & Cie have made these dials using a specially developed alloy called 401. The mixture contains 55% gold, with the remaining 45% made up of platinum, palladium, and silver. The dial blank is then guillochéd by hand. The result is a truly precious component.
Whether you like these new models rests entirely on your opinion of that shade of salmon. It’s unavoidable; I personally cannot come to grips with it in either the press shots or the oddly-lit lifestyle shots provided by the brand.
In the stock imagery the dial looks very dark, and doesn’t, in my opinion, marry very elegantly with the blue. As a result, I chose the Coho model as the title image, because I think it is the best of the bunch. That said, the lifestyle shots of the Coho make it look washed out and way too pale.
What I am sure of is that I will reserve final judgment until I’ve had chance to see these pieces in the metal (or maybe I should say “flesh?”). Czapek & Cie. has never failed to surprise me in the past. Consequently, I’m happy to give them the benefit of the doubt.
What I do find very exciting about this release, rather than the models themselves, is the revelation that Czapek & Cie. will accommodate the desires of individual clients. Additionally, in covering this watch release I have grown to admire the Faubourg de Cacovie collection a lot more.
The watches come on either a black or navy blue alligator strap with a deployment clasp. The Chinook and the Sockeye come on the blue, while the Coho and the King are fitted with the black as standard. However, I am sure Czapek would deliver any dial color with the strap of your choice. The asking price for the Czapek & Cie. Faubourg de Cacovie watches is CHF24,000 (pre-tax). Visit czapek.com to learn more.