As a limited edition, Swiss Czapek & Cie has created a skeletonized split-second chronograph version of its still new and popular Antarctique collection known as the Antarctique Rattrapante. The first 77 pieces are already spoken for (pre-ordered with deposits), but we go hands-on with a near-production prototype of this newest version of the Antarctique that started with the original Czapek & Cie Antarctique that was reviewed on aBlogtoWatch here.
The Antarctique is a breakthrough model for Czapek on multiple levels and has likewise been very popular for boutique luxury watchmakers. It is the brand’s first watch with an integrated bracelet design and is its answer to the modern “luxury lifestyle sports-style watch.” The original Czapek Antarctique was equipped with a three-hand automatic movement known as the SXH5, developed in collaboration with Jean-Francois Mojo and Chronode. For the Antarctique Rattranpante (split-second) the movement evolves into the caliber SXH56, which is also produced by Chronode.
The automatic winding SXH6 is built with a monopusher split-second chronograph module on top of the base movement. This means it offers just two pushers on the case instead of the normal three for split-second chronograph watches. (Monopusher chronographs with a split-second complication are rather rare). The dial has central hands for the time’s hour and minutes, as well as overlapping chronograph seconds hand (the lower hand stops when the split-second chronograph is started). This two-pusher layout (just one for starting, stopping, and resetting the chronograph, and the other pusher for the rattrapante) makes the timepiece look like a traditional chronograph at first glance, although it is not.
The nearly fully skeletonized dial is a lovely visual experience offering decent legibility with the broad blue hands and full scale of markers around the periphery. Each of these watches can be slightly customized with things like personalized case engravings, and Czapek even offers some different hand colors for the chronograph elements. This might be a bit too much choice, but I appreciate that they want to give their customers options.
Compared to the original Antarctique case, the Antarctique Rattrapante watch is a bit larger – although both of them are in steel. The first one was just over 40mm-wide, and the Antarctique Rattrapante is 42.5mm-wide and 15.3mm-thick (not a thin watch). That said, Czapek says that without the box style sapphire crystal, the Antarctique Rattrapante watch has a “perceived” thickness of 10.5mm. You can be the judge for yourself of how thin or thick this timepiece appears while worn. This isn’t a major consideration unless you regularly wear tight sleeve cuffs. The steel case is water-resistant to 120 meters and is, overall, elegant as well as comfortable.
The movement produced exclusively for Czapek & Cie by Chronode operates at 4Hz with 60 hours of power reserve. Unlike the SXH5, the SXH6 has a full-sized automatic rotor and has a distinctive chronograph system that uses two column wheels and a horizontal clutch. Czapek makes a point to say that it intentionally went with a horizontal versus vertical (considered a bit better) clutch because it was aesthetically more pleasing. In a sense, that is what timepieces such as this are all about. It isn’t about making the most contemporary or refined movement but rather one that is well-finished and with attractive architecture. That’s why timepieces like this are part of the “haute horology” category.
Czapek designed the Antarctique with a relatively simple tool-less strap/bracelet removal system, and each of the Antarctique Rattrapante watches will come with both a matching tapered “C” link steel bracelet and an additional strap. Czapek has a series of straps specially made for the Antacrtique case for consumers to choose from as part of helping to make this a more compelling fashion choice.
The overall presentation of the Czapek Antarctique Rattrapante is rather stunning with a beautiful open dial and a fun exclusive movement. I personally don’t mind the larger case size compared with the three-hand Antarctique, and it is probably for the better that Czapek has more case sizes available given that they plan to produce small batches of Antarctique watches for a while to come. This initial “Antarctique Rattrapante Silver Grey” (on account of the dial color) is a limited edition of 77 pieces with a retail price of 46,000 Swiss Francs. Learn more at the Czapek & Cie website here.