Thank You! A Look Back On The Fratello × Czapek Collaboration
Years of daydreaming, months of groundwork, weeks of refinement, days of pressure, and several hours of anticipation came to a close in 39 minutes of furious activity in the Fratello shop this morning. In the blink of an eye, all 50 pieces of the Fratello × Czapek Antarctique Passage de Drake Viridian Green limited edition were spoken for. With the prototype staring back up at me from my wrist inquisitively, I had the pleasure of telling it that all of its offspring had found homes. And what a thrill watching that happen was.
I know watches (except for the first-gen Tudor Black Bay heritage diver) aren’t known to smile, but I saw my own contented grin reflected back at me as I tilted the prototype in the light, watching the green shift through many of the shades that the 50 new owners will soon be able to experience for themselves. Yes, an agonizingly anticipatory wait awaits the lucky few that snared the viridian green model while the pieces are assembled and checked in Le Locle, but I say this entirely honestly: it will be worth it.
And while I’m being honest, let me say this: thank you. Thanks to the Fratello community for propelling this project toward its successful conclusion with your enthusiasm and encouragement. Many of you have contacted me directly with incredibly kind words. It was clear in the early stages that this was no ordinary project. It quickly transformed into a deeply personal journey that I’ve enjoyed going on with all of you.
“Take a piece of paper and write this down. This watch will be gone by 7 am.”
And thank you, of course, to Czapek. Especially to Xavier and Valeria, without whose support and energy none of this would have been possible. Everyone in team Fratello will be talking about Xavier’s bold statement — “Take a piece of paper and write this down. This watch will be gone by 7 am.” —for years to come, and I hope the actual piece of paper with the accurate prediction scribed upon’t makes its way to the walls of our office in The Hague.
An international echo
Seeing the Antarctique that Czapek so graciously agreed to create for us popping up around the blogosphere was exhilarating. Kind words from our friends in the industry were echoed almost exclusively in the comment sections I visited. Creating a watch like this is a real rollercoaster. From the outside, it might look like a straightforward process, but the minutiae of these projects are vast, and the sensitivities that need to be observed nuanced.
When a collaborative partner (such as Fratello) works directly with a brand on a limited product that the partner then promotes, a delicate balance must be struck. The partner becomes the temporary custodian of that brand. Presenting a watch to multiple audiences requires a sympathetic touch. Delivering the message in the style of the brand while retaining one’s own character can be a challenge, but from that challenge, an incredibly deep and intuitive understanding of what constitutes both brands can spring.
You learn a lot about yourself when you work with different people. Fratello grew as a result of this collaboration. For some of our team, this was the first time working with a brand of such prestige. It was an education, to say the least. The conversations we had during the process were food for thought. The experience was invaluable. I am sure it will shape the way we approach future collaborations immeasurably. I will personally be forever grateful that Xavier and the team gave me the chance to kickstart this project, and I’m very proud of the team that brought it to life over the past months.
Czapek has much more exciting news for the watch community to digest in the coming months. Of course, we’ve seen the sketches of the amazing Antarctique Rattrapante created for Only Watch and will soon see the watch in the metal. But yet more awaits, so stay tuned to the pages of Fratello to find out about the other exciting projects and collaborations Czapek has in the works.
The Czapek Antarctique Passage de Drake Viridian Green has come and gone, and already nicknames are starting to bed in. What started out as the “Clurichaun” has become the “Marino” (thanks, Lex!), and that one looks likely to stick. It’s certainly less of a mouthful than the hash-tag-busting title that drew more than a wry smile from many of you (and us) throughout the adventure we’ve just concluded.
Thirty-nine minutes… It’s been a blast. Thanks again for making it so.