f you have a beautiful engine, you might as well show it off. This is where the art of open-working a watch comes into play. By doing away with the traditional dial, the mechanism is revealed and becomes an integral part of the watch’s aesthetics. Hence this technique requires great care with the decorating, the beveling, the polishing, and the various types of finishing.
Furthermore, placing the engine on the dial side and minimizing structural parts also requires ingenious solutions to maintain stability. It’s more challenging if that engine is driving a split-second mechanism activated by clutches, which requires solid anchoring. The results, however, are worth the effort for the magnificent view of a very complex grande complication.
The challenge and the prize when meeting that challenge was the motivation behind Czapek &Cie’s decision to create the Rattrapante line of watches a year ago. The sapphire crystal in the front and on the exhibition case back reveal the intricate choreography of the dial-side mechanism.
Immediately recognizable are the two “Czapek” subdials. At 4 o’clock is a 30-minute totalizer, at 7 o’clock tick the small seconds. In the center of the watch is the tripod bridge that holds down the patented satellite minute train and the split seconds-mechanism. Also clearly visible are the two column wheels needed for the chronograph and the split-seconds mechanisms respectively.
This latest iteration of the Antarctique is named “Ice Blue.” As the name suggests, this new Rattrapante reveals the special qualities of this colour, which exudes calm and poise. “We are continuing to explore the many possibilities offered by this very attractive and popular new family of watches,” says Czapek CEO, Xavier de Roquemaurel. “Adding the blue is like a signature for the whole collection: Antarctica, blue sky, blue sea, blue ice.”
This model features traditionally blued hands that harmonise well with the weave of metallic greys inside the open-worked watch. A closer look reveals a fumé blue shimmer emanating from the minute track and the two totalizer tracks. The effect is produced by the use of sapphire crystal rings that have been treated with metal oxides applied by an evaporation process.
Adding to the visual dynamism of the dial is the red chrono hand, known as the trotteuse in French, and the small red “60” at 12 o’clock. Another salient visual aspect, though, is the dance of levers and cams on the dial of this split-second chronograph and the clamp, which instantly immobilizes one of the chrono wheels when the split-second pusher is activated. The other chronograph hand must then continue its time counting undisturbed. When the clamp is released, the immobilized hand will “catch up” (rattraper in French) to its companion. Each part must be manufactured to the highest specifications to ensure absolute precision.
Driving the Rattrapante Ice Blue is the Czapek’s high-performance proprietary caliber SHX6. It was created in collaboration with Chronode and is both a mechanical and aesthetic work of art. “The split-second runs on energy tapped from the second wheel,” explains Xavier. “And in this movement, we favored a horizontal clutch rather than a vertical one to highlight the aesthetics of the transmission.” Furthermore, to ensure the streamlined look of the watch, the number of parts and their thickness was reduced to a minimum. Everything had to fit in the 42.5-millimeter case.
The Antarctique Rattrapante Ice Blue comes on Czapek’s own stainless steel case bracelet, whose links are shaped like the letter C. It is available in a limited edition of 99 pieces.
Split-second monopusher chronograph, hours, minutes & seconds
Chronograph’s minutes at 4:30
Small seconds at 7:30
Split-second pusher at 10:30
Calibre SXH6: haute horlogerie automatic power-horse movement with a split-second monopusher chronograph module
Power reserve: 60 hours
Frequency: 4 Hz - 28’800 VpH
Variable inertia balance wheel
Two column wheels, chronograph horizontal clutch, patent-pending split-second clamp
49 jewels, 292 components
Recycled 5N rose gold rotor with Czapek logo
Finely shotblasted bridges with hand-polished chamfers
Linear satin-finished chronograph levers with hand-polished chamfers
Circular satin-finished wheels
Black-polished screws, studs and column wheels
42.5mm stainless-steel case
Height (with glass-box): 15.3mm
Perceived height (bezel to case-back): 10.5mm
Sapphire crystal glass-box with anti-reflective treatment
Sapphire case back with anti-reflective treatment on the inner side
Water resistance: 120m
Integrated stainless-steel bracelet with Czapek exclusive “Easy Release” system
Optional leather or rubber strap
Open-worked split-second chronograph on the dial side (world première)
Sword hours and minutes hands with SuperLuminova treatment
Customisable split-second hand: full red, red tip, plain
Blue fumé sapphire glass minutes ring and counters made with PVD evaporation
International retail price
50’000 CHF or 48’700 EUR (no tax) or 56’400 USD (US taxes included)