Czapek launched the original Place Vendôme collection at Baselworld 2017, and last month, the independent Swiss-based watch company followed up with the Place Vendôme Tourbillon Suspendu Ici et Ailleurs. The new watch features a motif of acanthus leaves on the case and crown, hand engraved by Michèle Rothen Rebetez.
Hand-engraving is one of the most demanding artisanal skills used in watchmaking. Literally, one slip of the hand and an entire engraving can be ruined. On that same note, each engraving is unique to the engraver and to the watch or component being worked on, which is, of course, the appealing part, whereas a machine engraving is perfect or nearly perfect and so there is virtually no difference between one piece or another.
That said, having an engraving on a case has always seemed a bit superfluous to me, although in this instance it’s done so subtly (not on the entire case), that the artistic craftsmanship can be appreciated without dominating the exterior.
In addition to the engraving, the artist used a micro-hammering technique to create extra detail and make the acanthus appear to stand out very naturally in the background. “This effect is achieved by darkening the contours of the engraving, thus highlighting the delicate and precise work on the hand-mirror polished leaf, which reflects the light in myriad ways,” according to Czapek.
The Czapek press release states, “The platinum dial of the Place Vendôme Tourbillon Suspendu Ici et Ailleurs with the acanthus leaf engraving is based on the collection launched in 2017. The dial is in champlevé with a grand-feu enamel ring that bears the Roman numerals. The fine fleur-de-lys hands are back, harmonizing with an anthracite bead-blasted main plate and suspended bridges of polished steel. The two characteristic Czapek subdials feature a tourbillon on the left and the second time zone on the right. The new model is still driven by the proprietary, manually wound SXH2 movement developed with Chronode. It beats at 21,600 vph (3 Hz). A one-minute suspended tourbillon with a second-time zone, a day/night disk – both running – and a 60-hour power reserve indicator complete the watch’s features. The decorative elements include traditional satin-brushed bridges, circular bevelling, hand-chamfering, blued screws and the open-worked ratchet.”
The Place Vendôme Tourbillon Suspendu Ici et Ailleurs is only available by special order in platinum or rose gold.