The latest new watches from Czapek offer both a brand new case and movement, produced in collaboration with one of my favorite watchmakers. The new timepiece collection is known as the Czapek Place Vendome Complicité, and it arrives in two limited-edition styles to begin with, including this pictured Place Vendome Complicité Stardust in 18k white gold with a gray dial, as well as the Place Vendome Complicité Harmony Blue that has an 18k rose gold case. The watch required at least five years of development and is a collaboration between Czapek and independent watchmaker Bernard Lederer, of whom I have been a fan since his Blu watch brand was around. Bernard Lederer makes watches under his own name today but is still a relatively unknown personality within the space. This collaboration with Czapek should hopefully bring more attention to the excellent horology that he has been responsible for. What exactly did he help create in the Place Vendome Complicité for Czapek?

The point of the Place Vendome Complicité is to have dual escapements that are connected via a differential — not only that but for the entire movement and dial presentation to be highly impressive and attractive. That means the movement needed to be developed from the ground up, not only to perform a particular mechanical purpose but also to look darn good in the process. Practically speaking, that meant creating a movement with symmetry, nice-looking bridges, and the ability to visually observe how it works with the naked eye.

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The resulting movement developed for the Place Vendome Complicité is known as the Czapek Calibre 8, and it is both a looker and fun to observe in operation. The movement indicates the time with a central seconds hand, and it also has a useful power reserve indicator at the 6 o’clock position on the case. Made of 293 parts, the movement operates at 3Hz with 72 hours of power reserve. The main technical complexity of the Calibre 8 is the presence of two different independent balance wheels, the rate results of which are averaged out via a differential system located around the 12 o’clock position on the dial. You can see the use of sapphire crystal bridges over this part of the dial, which further allows for appreciation of the mechanism. The overall presentation of the dial and movement is excellent, as Czapek intuitively knows how to simultaneously provide classiness, mechanical intrigue, fine finishing, and legibility.

Does all this translate into a better or more reliable time-keeping mechanism? Maybe. Dual escapements and such systems have been around for a long time, and the idea behind them is always to make an attempt to cancel out rate errors. The idea is that the average of two operating regulation systems will be more accurate than just one. In principle, this is correct, but as is the case with many of these movements, we aren’t clear if there is, indeed, better performance here than a standard ETA automatic movement. What we do know is that these movements are vastly more interesting and beautiful than standard mechanical movements. That’s why you spend the big bucks.

The Czapek Place Vendome Complicité case is quite pretty and goes back to its legacy of round cases, though the Place Vendome Complicité is a new profile. With interesting groove architecture on the side of the case and excellent finishing, the Place Vendome Complicité offers practicality and artistry on the wrist. The Place Vendome Complicité case is 41.8mm wide, 14.8mm thick, and it has a modest 48.2mm lug-to-lug distance. With a domed sapphire crystal over the dial and another sapphire crystal over the caseback, the Czapek Place Vendome Complicité is water resistant to 50 meters. I do want to mention that Czapek designed the case to be worn more thinly than its nearly 15mm thickness might suggest. The brand claims that the watch looks like it wears at about 13mm thick on the wrist and that not taking into consideration the sapphire crystal height, the case only looks like it is about 9mm thick. In practice, I can say that while this is hardly an ultra-thin timepiece, it does have a comfortable and slim appearance on the wrist, all things considered.

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The dial symmetry, legibility, and overall impressive presentation of the Calibre 8 movement on both the dial and caseback result in a very pretty timepiece. That is where the Place Vendome Complicité will enjoy most allure, in that it is arguably very attractive but is really meant for movement nerds. This is the heart of Czapek, even though the brand has had a lot of recent success with its mostly three-hand dialed Antarctique integrated bracelet watches. Being able to make visually stunning mechanical movements that inspire the heart and the intellect appears to be the main focus of Czapek’s management team.

The silver-color dial tones of the Place Vendome Complicité Stardust model give this otherwise decorative watch a lovely instrumental feel, which is further enhanced by the hour and minute scale that takes up most of the periphery of the dial around the presentation of the Calibre 8 manually wound movement. Even though much of the movement is about whimsy and showing off, the watch still feels like a purpose-built time-telling mechanism, which is exactly what enthusiasts tend to enjoy. Overall, I think this is an impressive, albeit expensive, new product from Czapek and Lederer. Each of the two debut models is part of a limited edition of 50 pieces. Price for the Czapek Place Vendome Complicité Stardust and Blue Harmony watches is $97,500 USD each. Learn more at the Czapek website.

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