Czapek makes extraordinary watches in 2023. Even seasoned jewelers, experienced antiques dealers and serious horologists who have seen it all and tend to commoditize their gems, art or watches occasionally have their senses numbed as they marvel over something rare, unusual, or in this case, historical.
This pocketwatch checks all those boxes. Precious metal (18k gold) is the least of it. The maker, Franciszek Czapek (the first partner of Mr. Patek before he partnered with Philippe) was a genius watchmaker. The case maker, Etienne Piguet, made a similar watch (without enameling) the same year as this one — 1847.
The movement is a quarter-hour repeater, very complicated for its day, noting the time, in the dark, with a series of gongs/bells. Add the science, art and craftsmanship (and the close relation to Patek), and the historical aspect (a treaty of Poles and Europeans), and you have a masterpiece worthy of any museum.
We bought this from a Wisconsin jeweler for $12,000 and hope to eke out a small profit. But first we get to admire and hold this beauty in our hands just as the Lithuanian nobleman did when he special ordered it 175 years ago. The firm continues to this day making complicated luxury watches of the highest caliber (as evidenced in the photo below).
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