Czapek & Cie’s New Antarctique Rattrapante is a First For the High Complication

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Geneva Watch Days is in full swing, marking the return of in-person watch fairs to Swiss soil. This is a big deal for a whole host of reasons. It signals a light at the end of our long pandemic tunnel, for one, and is a testing ground for a new trade show ecosystem, which was once the centerpiece of the watch industry itself. To illustrate just how much the trade show landscape has transformed since 2019, consider that Baselworld, once the undisputed king of the shows, is actually happening right now as a popup event within Geneva Watch Days. A sign of the times, to be sure. Geneva Watch Days also means, obviously, a whole bunch of new watches, and while many of the higher end luxury brands exhibiting this week aren’t exactly in the Worn & Wound wheelhouse, a handful of releases have caught our attention and are just too cool not to share. Exhibit A: the Antarctique Rattrapante by Czapek & Cie. 

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Czapek is a relatively new brand (they launched in 2015) and over the last few years have released a series of watches that seem to have one foot in time honored Swiss watchmaking tradition, and the other in something quite a bit more adventurous. The Antarctique collection debuted last year, and marked the brand’s entry into the ultra competitive world of integrated bracelet steel sports watches. Honestly, they pose a pretty enticing alternative to the usual suspects if you like the look, largely because they’re presumably a bit more available than the perpetually sold out grail watches from the holy trinity brands. This Antarctique is a fairly radical reimagining of the simple steel sports watch that was introduced a year ago, however, and seems to be aimed at collectors with a particular interest in serious complications. 

The rattrapante chronograph is considered by many watchmakers to be one of the most difficult to produce. It allows the user to time an event at intervals by “splitting” the second hand in two – when the chronograph is stopped, the rattrapante mechanism allows one second hand to continue timing an event, while a second, previously hidden second hand is stopped. The push of a button releases the stopped second hand, allowing it to immediately catch up to the hand still in motion. 

While the Antarctique Rattrapante appears at a glance to be yet another high end watch with a skeletonized dial, the movement on display here is what distinguishes it from other similarly equipped chronos. Czapek claims that this is the first watch to feature the rattrapante mechanism itself from the dial side, which means the user gets to see the clamp stop the second hand in its tracks, and then release it. It’s one thing to make a watch with an exotic complication, but it’s really special to actually be able to see that exotic complication in action, particularly in a way we haven’t seen before.

Czapek has worked with movement maker Chronode on the Calibre SXH6 which powers this Antarctique. The layout is somewhat unusual given the unique nature of the movement, with a small seconds register at 7:30 and a minute totalizer at 4:30 (the split-second pusher is located at 10:30). The movement uses two column wheels (one for the chronograph, and one specifically for the rattrapante mechanism, both visible from the dial side) and has a power reserve of 60 hours. It’s all packaged inside of a stainless steel case that measures 42.5mm in diameter and 15.3mm tall. It’s also, for good measure, 120 meters water resistant. So if you want to take your rattrapante swimming, you can absolutely feel confident that the case will remain water tight. 

Unsurprisingly, this watch is highly limited, with only 77 pieces being made. The retail price is $51,900. That’s expensive, to be sure, but when considered opposite green Nautili approaching half a million at auction, it seems like an impossibly good value, as long as buying one remains a thought experiment, which it surely is for the vast majority of us. More information at Czapek’s website right here.

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Zach is a native of New Hampshire, and he has been interested in watches since the age of 13, when he walked into Macy’s and bought a gaudy, quartz, two-tone Citizen chronograph with his hard earned Bar Mitzvah money. It was lost in a move years ago, but he continues to hunt for a similar piece on eBay. Zach loves a wide variety of watches, but leans toward classic designs and proportions that have stood the test of time. He is currently obsessed with Grand Seiko.
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