Collaboration models between magazines/media and watch manufacturers have become a classic and, more often than not, it can result in pretty cool timepieces with a unique flair. We’ve been there too recently, with our first Montre de Souscription. Our friends and neighbours at Fratello (we’re both based in the Netherlands and both teams know each other for years) have tried this before, twice actually. Their latest offence was a bold and colourful take on the Oris Big Crown Pointer Date. Today, the Dutch medium ups its game and presents its third collaboration watch, and it’s not only much more exclusive but also comes from one of our preferred independent watchmakers. Here’s the Fratello x Czapek Antarctique Passage de Drake Viridian Green, and it’ll be available as of tomorrow – July 8th, 6 AM Europe time.
Until now, Fratello has been focussing its two previous collaboration models on relatively accessible watches, being respectively made by Frederique Constant and Oris. But for its third attempt, the Dutch team has different intentions, with a watch that is high-end, mechanically complex and that ticks multiple boxes to make it perfectly in line with current trends. It’s green, it has a textured dial, it comes on an integrated bracelet and it’s both elegant and robust. And overall, it results in great balance between subtlety and boldness.
The base for the Fratello x Czapek watch is a watch that surprised the industry in 2020, the Antarctique. Czapek is a name with a strong background in watchmaking history. Indeed, as we explained, Franciszek Czapek or François Czapek had been associated with Antoine Norbert de Patek in the creation of a watch manufacture that will be known as Patek, Czapek & Cie… and that later became one of the most famous brands of the industry, Patek Philippe. The Czapek name was revived in 2015 under the stewardship of CEO Xavier de Roquemaurel, with an unusual equity crowdfunding campaign, where owners can also become shareholders. First collections were on the elegant and high-horology side of things, with a not-so-classic take on traditional watchmaking.
Last year, Czapek revealed a whole new watch, a model to compete in the ultra-competitive market of the luxury sports watch with integrated bracelet, a category dominated by icons such as the Nautilus and the Royal Oak. And the young independent watchmaker used all its arsenal in the battle, and managed to introduce a watch with strong arguments. The inaugural Antarctique collection was launched with great success and sold out faster than the brand probably expected. It’ll be followed by a new version, the so-called Passage de Drake, with a revised dial and some improvements on the proprietary (and stunning) automatic movement. This is the base that Fratello has been using for its new collab watch.
Fratello x Czapek
For this watch, Fratello decided to use multiple ingredients to create a recipe that will be, without a doubt, a success. Everything in this watch is meant to meet with what’s hot these days. Shaped sport case; check! Integrated bracelet; check! Green dial with texture; check! Handsome automatic movement; check! Based on a watch that isn’t easy to obtain; check! But that’s not all, as in all fairness, the team has done a great job to find the right balance to make a watch that isn’t just the sum of market trends, but a subtle yet striking piece.
This new Fratello edition is all about the dial. The watch itself is identical in specifications and proportions, as well as for the movement that beats inside. This means that we still find the nicely shaped barrel case with restrained proportions and refined finishing. It measures 40.5mm in diameter for a reasonable height of 11.3mm (crystal included). On the wrist, the watch is fairly compact too, with only 45mm from a lug to another. And despite being powered by a delicate and nicely executed movement, it is perfectly wearable thanks to its 120m water-resistance.
When presented, the Czapek Antarctique Passage de Drake came with a new dial texture and in 4 different colours; silver, grey, blue and black. What Fratello has done is to create a striking and playful new colour named Viridian green, obtained thanks to a CVD coating process. About the colour, it can be defined as a slightly metallic green-blue hue – for the story, “viridian is a blue-green pigment, a hydrated chromium(III) oxide, of medium saturation and relatively dark in value” says Wikipedia. The result is an ever-changing colour that ranges from dark turquoise to more vivid green tones in direct sunlight.
There’s more to the Fratello x Czapek Antarctique than just a colour. The Dutch team also went for a combination of elements found both the Terre Adélie and Passage de Drake editions. It relies on the specific stamped “flinqué” dial of the latter, while uses the elongated markers of the first. Compared to other Passage de Drake, the Arabic 12 marker is here replaced by the “double claw” index of the Terre Adélie. The hands and markers are polished, faceted steel and all filled with Super-LumiNova. The final touch comes from the seconds hand, or in fact, a choice between three different seconds hands; full steel, steel with orange tip (as photographed here) or full orange. As explained by Rob Nudds, managing editor of Fratello, it reminds him of his Irish roots. To me, it also works well with the Dutch origins of Fratello…
The watch is powered by a rather impressive proprietary movement, the calibre SXH5. This large automatic engine is wound by a platinum micro-rotor and comes with a distinctive architecture with no fewer than seven bridges, five of which are openworked offering a captivating perspective on the inner workings. A variable inertia balance wheel is held in place by a transversal bridge. The calibre SHX5 operates at 28,800 vibrations per hour and has close to 60 hours of autonomy on one barrel. The finishing creates a striking contrast. It is modern but elaborate with hand chamfering of the inward angles and drawing of the flanks.
The Fratello x Czapek Antarctique Passage de Drake Viridian Green is worn on the classic stainless steel integrated bracelet, close by a folding clasp and equipped with an “Easy Release” system. It allows removing the bracelet without a tool, so you can also enjoy the black rubber strap that Fratello includes in the presentation box.
Availability & Price
The Fratello x Czapek Antarctique is a limited edition of 50 watches, only available through Fratello Shop here. Pre-order will begin tomorrow, July 8th from 6 AM Europe time.
The watch will be priced at EUR 20,820 (including 21% NL taxes) and the deposit you will need to lay down to secure one of the 50 pieces for yourself is EUR 3,400 (including 21% NL taxes), with the balance due towards the end of October. Delivery will commence at the end of October and should be completed by the end of November.