Did someone say panda dial? Yes, but Czapek have added a modern, classical twist.
The Faubourg de Cracovie chronograph is Czapek’s third collection, romantically named after François Czapek’s third boutique, which was origianlly opened in 1850 in Warsaw, Poland.
Keeping on theme of three, the automatic calibre the collection features is also Czapek’s third, following on from a seven day manually wound movement first and then a suspended tourbillon (with GMT).
Czapek & Cie CEO Xavier de Roquemaurel explains the idea behind the Faubourg de Cracovie:
Take the romantic nobility of our first watches and add a chronograph to give it some athletic pizzazz. That’s our latest model, and it’s unmistakably Czapek, traditional but with a modern flair.
Face & case
The case of the Faubourg de Cracovie is 41.5mm and Stainless Steel. It is actually a slightly modified Quai des Bergues Revolution case – the familiar crown protectors are still there, but instead are used as chronograph pushers here. The crown has straight grooves for grip and features engravings of the Czapek crossed spears with 1845 across them.
In this piece reviewed, a handcrafted grand-feu white enamel bombé dial with black enamel welded sub-dials being very eye-like, peeking through the sapphire crystal glass. The chrono sub-dials are symmetrically positioned slightly above the horizontal central line and appear larger than usual; one at 3 o’clock for minutes, the other at 9 o’clock for hours – which also features the Czapek secret signature. For those that are not aware, the secret signature is a bespoke addition and client specific, only visible in certain lights and angles.
There is a third, slightly smaller sub-dial at 6 o’clock for seconds, this time on the main dial white enamel. There is also a date window nestled into the bottom of this seconds sub-dial.
60 minute indexes are close to the bezel and inside them, appearing to almost pull in towards the centre, are elongated and thin roman numerals, all in black, except for 12, which is in red. The Czapek Geneve logo sits proud just below 12 o’clock. The numerals at 2, 3, 6, 9 and 10 o’clock are all slightly “eaten up” by the larger sub-dials being larger in size.
The “Fleur de Lys” hands are rodhium plated steel, the seconds hand featuring a red tip. Hands have had Superluminova treatment and indexes have also been baton applied with Super Luminova.
The movement is visible through the transparent, screw down case back. Czapek & Cie is engraved across the bottom of the gold rotor, which sits above the diamond-blasted anthracite bridges which appear to have a sparkle to the satinised finish. Various elements of the movement are visible through these skeletonised bridges.
Czapek’s first chronograph is driven by a bespoke automatic movement, the SXH3. The movement makes use of some of the linear hammer, which reduces wear and tear on parts and resets all the associated dials in one easy movement. A vertical clutch also ensures a perfect start for the chronograph.
The balance wheel spins at 36,000 vph and is COSC certified. Expect up to 65 hours once fully wound.
The strap is made from alligator, with a steel buckle. The Czapek logo is neatly engraved across the buckle.
There is a choice of either carbon black or matt black for the strap colour. There doesn’t appear to be much difference, although the matt appears slightly shinier than the carbon.
The watch featured here is named the “Tao” and is one of eight versions of the Faubourg de Cracovie collection.
The other 7 versions are all in the same case, however each comes as a different variations on colour and finished dials. Only 2 feature grand-feu dials, the others are handcrafted Guilloché “Résonance” dials.
Each have a choice of Fleur de Lys or Arrow style hands, as well as a few options for strap finishes; and all versions are limited to just 18 pieces.
This is a difficult one for me to summarise, as I really like the aesthetics, but I am struggling to figure out when I would wear it (if I owned one).
The size is great for me, has a good weight on the wrist and is comfortable. Although it has quite a thick case, it shouldn’t really cause too much trouble catching on sleeves, due to the smooth curved edges of the case.
The finish really looks immaculate and the design composition of the dials and monochrome with a dash of red colour should be bang on for my taste. I am partial to a sporty looking watch and also appreciate a classically inspired watch, but the Faubourg de Cracovie “Toa” seems a bit muddled between the two for me.
At 25,500 CHF and with only 18 pieces available, I don’t think you will see many around and am sure that any owners will be showing it off as often as possible.