Czapek Midnight in Geneva – a celebration of past, present and future

A watch, a film and stories about the past to help conquer the future and enjoy the present

Czapek Midnight in Geneva Dial detail
Czapek Midnight in Geneva - dial detail with brand logo between the white gold “Fleur de Lys“ hands
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With the occasion of the brand’s boutique opening, Czapek launched an 18 pieces limited series celebrating piece. The watch, called “Midnight in Geneva”, is a metaphor of the present, remembering the past and celebrating the future. As its name suggests, the timepiece’s name is inspired by the Woody Allen movie – Midnight in Paris.  As a novelty, the Czapek “Midnight in Geneva” brings the first aventurine dial for the brand. Plus, it is possible to be the largest bombe aventurine dial on the market. So, for light Sunday reading with movie quotes and watch pictures scroll down. The photographed watch is a prototype and the back engravings are not correct. 

Czapek Midnight In Geneva front cover.
“Midnight in Geneva” – by the full name Czapek & Cie Quai de Bergues ‘Midnight in Geneva’ – is the brand’s first exercise to produce watches with a new dial type – aventurine. Up to now, the brand established itself as an excellent Grand Feu artisan (including hidden signature) and a stylish, yet modern guilloche user.

Czapek & Cie Quai de Bergues ‘Midnight in Geneva’

Before going into the details of “Midnight in Geneva”, let’s have a look at the past. The history of Czapek & Cie is sweet and sorrow. With the help of some extraordinary and passionate people, the present of the Czapek Geneve is flourishing. The future sounds better than ever.  Enjoy the brand’s official video.

Talking with Xavier de Roquemaurel about this particular watch and its name, I guessed the inspiration for the name. It came from the 2011 Woody Allen’s film “Midnight in Paris”. We both recommend you to see this movie. The film is sweet and reminds us that the past had its own way, but, in the present, we should follow ours, towards a better future.

“We don’t have the big things in common, but we have the little things”

I have visited the Czapek Boutique during the SIHH 2019 days. In a beautiful sunny morning, I discovered the small, but surprisingly roomy space on the Rue de la Corraterie, 18 in Geneva.  I didn’t know what to expect. I had never seen pictures with the locations before. I had no idea what is there. But once in front of it, I knew. That was it… I somehow found the familiar feeling of the Czapek watches transposed to a physical space. A lovely space that allows a direct “confrontation” between you and Czapek pieces. Without a classic counter, the location gives a familial feeling. The warm heart of friends gathering. As the feeling that Czapek family awaits you to join.

Czapek Midnight In Geneva case oblique
The Quai de Bergues “Revolution” case manufactured in exclusive XO stainless steel measures 42.5mm. The main finish present is the mirror polishing – so most of the pictures contain me in the reflections.

“Picasso only thinks that women are to sleep with, or to paint…”

A watch was always a form of art, containing several disciplines. The case can be considered a sculpture. The dial is often a painter’s canvas. The movement a little bit of both, combined with architecture.

Midnight in Geneva makes no exceptions from the above description. A graceful sum of lines and shapes. Voluptuous, yet elegant lines, if you ask me… The way that the lugs’ curvatures are integrated, from top to bottom, into the case body is appealing. The case’s mass reduction using the convex, frosted excavation makes me think of vintage race cars. A detail only possible in modern time though…

Czapek Midnight In Geneva case oblique - crown view
Exclusive case concept with the crown-protections integrated into the stretcher

“…then the man who is brave and true looks death squarely in the face…”

An interesting detail of the Quai de Bergues case is the crown protection. The Czapek watches are, be all means, elegant timepieces. But several small points indicate them as daily companions with sporty ambitions. The crown protection is gracefully integrated into case’s design. Adorned with a brushed surface and polished bevel, the added metal removes any chance of symmetry/monotony. The unbalanced case reminds us, as the right side is not the same as the left one, that in life, some weights and asymmetries are for our good. For our own protection.

Czapek Midnight In Geneva crown protection
The crown is decorated with the Czapek’s logo.

The crown design is taller as usual. It has to leave enough room for comfortable use. Taking into account that the movement is hand wound, the crown is an equitable balance between form and function. The set and wound feel robust.

“This is unbelievable! Look at this! There’s no city like this in the world. There never was…”

Even if the statement was given for Paris, this is also 100% true for Geneva. Despite its “natural” beauty, Geneva has, at least for me, another type of beauty. Partly due to my passion for watches. In which Geneva is more than well represented.

Coming back to the “Midnight in Geneva”, the watch wears its name with grace. That aventurine dial reminds me about the cold Geneva nights. Yet charming.

Czapek Midnight In Geneva dial
One of the largest, if not the largest bombe aventurine dial on the market. The magic of the dial is undeniable.

Some more information about the aventurine dial and some examples can be found in this great article by Elizabeth Doerr for Quill&Pad: Aventurine: Sparkling, Glittering, Mysterious, And Placing A Galaxy Of Stars On Your Wrist.

Certain is that “Midnight in Geneva” version of Quai de Bergues is one of the most mesmerising timepieces of Czapek’s Collections. Otherwise, is just a classic for Czapek dial. All the elements we know and expect are there.

Czapek Midnight in Geneva Dial detail
“Fleur de Lys“ hands in white gold floating over the starry Geneva sky.

All the elements of the “Midnight in Geneva” are printed. The ink’s grey shade fits well the metal of the case and theme of the dial. There is nothing poetic or romantic about that. Maybe the story of the watch or its sole purpose – to celebrate the brand’s a step furder.

The gold hands manufactured in the traditional shape of “Fleur de Lys“ are a perfect match. The contrast to the dark blue aventurine dial offers good legibility. They also add a certain old age note to a rather modern watch. Just like Geneva, full of old artefacts, history and last centuries’ beauties in the modern-day city.

Czapek Midnight in Geneva small seconds sub-dial
The small seconds’ sunken dial. The image offers a good view of the aventurine magical beauty

The interesting design of Quai de Bergues with two subdials, symmetrically placed on the lower side of the dial, was always a key signature. The innovative day/power reserve indication was for the first time present in the Czapek model No.3430.

In the 19th Century, clocks were wound once a week, on Sunday, after Mass. François Czapek conceived this double hand the same way. When fully wound, the power reserve indicates Sunday, and ends on Saturday, when it is empty. Czapek Geneve Website.

Czapek & Cie Quai de Bergues ‘Midnight in Geneva’
Czapek & Cie Quai de Bergues ‘Midnight in Geneva’

“Do you like the shape of the rhinoceros?”

The “Midnight in Geneva” is powered by the in-house movement SXH1. The movement was realised in cooperation with Jean-François Mojon. A great name that is related to Chronode SA (its own company), Cyrus watches, MB&F, HYT, Harry Winston and others.

Czapek & Cie Quai de Bergues ‘Midnight in Geneva’
Czapek & Cie Quai de Bergues ‘Midnight in Geneva’ backside with a view to the SXH1 movement

The movement is inspired in shape in function by the Czapek’s 1850 calibre. With a modern design and haute horlogerie finishes, the calibre SXH1 is part of the exquisite family of independent created and manufactured movements.

Czapek & Cie Quai de Bergues ‘Midnight in Geneva’ SXH1
Calibre SXH1

The movement is simple and delicately decorated. While the theme is mainly frosted, the SXH1 is covered in multiple finishes. The symmetrical architecture with open ratchets is a key feature of Czapek’s movement. These two wheels are polished, circular-grained and finely chamfered. The fixation is realised with thermally blued screws.

Czapek & Cie Quai de Bergues ‘Midnight in Geneva’
Detail of the 21,000vph balance wheel. The watch has an impressive power reserve of seven days, due to a double barrel design.

The SXH1 is sandblasted for a frosted finish. The bridges are hand bevelled and polished. It is a pleasure to check the bridges’ anglage. So the view of calibre SXH1 can look plain at a frugal look. But its elegance is discovered by a closer look. The clean design witness a series of skilful finishes.

“Yeah, that’s what the present is. It’s a little unsatisfying because life’s a little unsatisfying.”

Maybe our life is not always in bright colours. Maybe the night sky is not always full of bright stars. Maybe the past looks beautiful because we forget its struggle. Certain is that we can make our present better.  There are those little things in life that help that. Without a doubt, “Midnight in Geneva” is one of those things. Sweet and serious, elegant but robust, this piece can bring inspiration to the present moment.

Czapek & Cie Quai de Bergues ‘Midnight in Geneva’ wrist
On the wrist, Czapek & Cie Quai de Bergues ‘Midnight in Geneva’ is sublime. By every look, there is something new to discover. Like discovering new stars in a night with a clear sky.

So I like this watch a lot. It reminds me that there is no better moment as the present. With every wrist turn, with every new light spark, the “Midnight in Geneva” can bring a new note to an old you.

Czapek & Cie Quai de Bergues ‘Midnight in Geneva’ Specification and Price

Limited to 18 pieces 100% Swiss Made with a price tag of  18,000 CHF.

Functions
  • Hours, Minutes & Seconds
  • Small second at 7h30
  • Power reserve indication with weekdays at 4h30
Movement
  • Calibre SXH1: Haute Horlogerie proprietary mechanical hand-wound movement
  • Power-reserve > 168 hours (7 days) on 2 barrel-springs
  • Frequency: 3 Hz – 21,600 VpH
  • Diameter: 32 mm – 14 lines ¼
  • Height: 4.75 mm
  • Finish: double open ratchets, sandblasted bridges, blue screws, bevelling, final anglage main
Dial
  • Dark Blue Aventurine dial
  • Elongated Roman numerals, the symbol of the Czapek elegance
Hands
  • “Fleur de Lys“ hands in white gold
Case and Bracelet
  • Exclusive XO stainless steel “Revolution” case
  • Exclusive case concept with the crown-protections integrated into the stretcher
  • 42.5 mm diameter
  • Curved Sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment on the inside surface
  • Sapphire crystal case back with anti-reflective treatment on the inside surface
  • Water-resistance: 50 meters (5 atm)
  • Alligator strap with XO steel pin buckle
  • Caseback with special engravings “Limited Edition” at 2 o’clock, “1 out of 18” at 4.30 and “Corraterie 18”

For more information, please visit the Czapek Geneve Website.

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