The term, ‘Monocoque’, has often been used in motor racing. Simply put, it’s a structure in an aircraft or a vehicle wherein the chassis is found to be integral with the body. In 1962, an aluminium alloy monocoque chassis was first used in the Lotus 25 Formula 1 race car. McLaren was the first to use carbon-fibre-reinforced polymers to construct the monocoque of the 1981 McLaren MP4/1. But can this technology be applied to watchmaking? Watch enthusiasts have definitely heard about monocoque watch cases. Over the years, many watchmakers have also used the system of an integrated bracelet to make timepieces look as single units. Czapek and Cie.’s new Antarctique Titanium Dark Sector reminds one of such efforts to fuse art with technology.
Before we discuss the latest collection, let’s delve a little into the history of the brand. In 1836, Polish emigrants François Czapek, who was a talented watchmaker, and Antoine Norbert de Patek, co-founder of Patek Philippe, met each other and established Patek, Czapek and Cie. in 1839. But this partnership was later dissolved. In 1845, Francois Czapek founded Czapek & Cie. with a new partner, Juliusz Gruzewski. Moving forward to 2012, three entrepreneuers re-established the brand, thus creating a library of Czapek timepieces to understand Czapek’s work and personality. They kept on working on new designs — it was as if the founder himself was seated with them, after having travelled through time.
The Antarctique collection, a result of such creative brainstorming, is known to be sophisticated and has seen different features, be it the openworked split-second monopusher, a ‘Stairway to Eternity’ dial or a unique hand-varnished dial for its special edition. The new Czapek and Cie. Antarctique Titanium Dark Sector takes a geometrical approach to display time, thus staying true to the timepiece maker’s design philosophy.
The newly launched timepiece will be available in a limited yearly production of 100 pieces. Sporting a 40.5mm titanium case, the three-hand-only watch has a traditional minute track that has been placed on the edges on an anthracite dial. It surrounds a double row of lightly arched parallel segments that are interrupted at each numeral. The sword-like hour hand points to the gaps — as if a ship is seeking to enter a harbour — while the minute and second hands sweep the dial, each at its own pace, closing the gaps for a moment.
These shades of grey inspired the model’s overall monochrome scheme, highlighting the two touches of colour on the dial, namely the red dot at 12 o’clock and the tip of the second hand with a rounded crown protector at 3 o’ clock.
The Czapek and Cie. Antarctique Titanium Dark Sector gets the in-house Calibre SXH5.01 automatic movement with 60 hours of power reserve. Turning the watch over showcases the transparent caseback with four visible screws and a micro rotor, made of recycled titanium, with seven bridges, honouring the pocket watches of the 19th century. The watch is finished on an integrated, brushed titanium bracelet.