There is a reason that Fratello released a collaborative effort with Czapek in 2021: quite frankly, we love the brand (a lot!). And the Antarctique has played an instrumental role in that love, that’s for sure. On its own, it is a sharp take on the hotter-than-July integrated-bracelet sports watch, but it has also proven itself an excellent vehicle for lateral projects. The open-worked Antarctique Rattrapante that Czapek launched in 2021 has been a milestone in the collection, but perhaps that stands to fall. With the Czapek Antarctique × Collective P.04 Lanikai, searingly bright blue minimalism lifts the watch to a whole new level of cool.

Collective Horology is itself a near-mythical collector’s club of sorts where you’re in by committing to your first limited timepiece. And boy, has the group come up with some bangers! Look at examples like the P.03 in collaboration with Armin Strom. It’s like the founders Asher Rapkin and Gabe Reilly have their fingers on a different, deeper pulse of watch magic than the rest of us. Price-wise, all of their pieces are investment grade, but to me, they are also worth it. We live in a time where hot collabs appear every week, don’t get me wrong. But what they have created together with Xavier de Roquemaurel of Czapek has a deeper sense of style.

Czapek Antarctique x Collective P.04 Lanikai

A knockout first impression

If you’re not familiar with the Czapek Antarctique by now (where have you been?), you’ll get an immediate sense of a personal design language with a flamboyant dial that makes the cliché watch term “popping colors” seem utterly insufficient. The intense aquamarine of the deep wave-patterned relief dial takes its inspiration from the shores of Hawaii. Gabe Reilly of Collective explains, “Our goal with the P.04 Lanikai was to create a sports watch that honors Hawaii’s rich tradition of watersports — from surfing to outrigger canoeing — by capturing the unique quality of its waters.” And it makes a lot of sense when looking at this riptide-surging vivid dial with its incredibly dynamic design. How do they do it?

The dial blank is formed into its concave shape, and the wave texture is stamped from a hand-engraved mold. The enamel conjuring up Pacific Ocean waves is layered onto the dial, which is then fired, a challenging process due to the varying depth of the dial surface. The result is a scene of light and shadows playing in the waves, topped with a contrasting sand-colored seconds hand. To me, this is perhaps even more evocative than the best urushi dials from Grand Seiko. Claude-Eric Jan from Donzé Cadrans, the dial maker, says, “Trying new techniques is a long learning process, and it took us much more time than any other Antarctique dial to get it right, but the final result is way above any of our expectations.”

Czapek Antarctique x Collective P.04 Lanikai

Have you noticed that case?

The limited Antarctique P.04 Lanikai is one of those watches where the dial is the star. But in this case (pun absolutely intended), the radially brushed and polished steel plays a strong game. Within its sleek 11.3mm thickness, Czapek gives us a wealth of strong details to challenge the dial’s supremacy. Take the detailed case sides, where the intricate crown guards alone have grail power. They are just tall enough to protect the Czapek crown, inset into the scalloped, brushed sides with a sliver of polished bevel to make you notice them. The 40.5mm case has a short 45mm lug-to-lug, making it sit sweetly on the wrist with the gorgeous C-link bracelet.

The Czapek Antarctique x Collective

And we haven’t even mentioned Czapek’s in-house movement yet, the accomplished caliber SXH5. With a recycled platinum micro-rotor, blackened and sandblasted finishes, hand-beveled angles, and seven skeletonized bridges, the 30mm heart of this collaborative color fest is an enchanting mix of modern and traditional craftsmanship. Oh yes, and for the spec hunters out there, this 193-part caliber also delivers a 60-hour power reserve while beating at 28,800 vibrations per hour.

Deserving of its place on the “integrated-bracelet grail” podium

Of course, watches like the Nautilus, Royal Oak, and Laureato have a special place in our hearts. But for me, among the modern interpretations of the beloved integrated-bracelet sports watch, there are two winners — the H. Moser Streamliner and the Czapek Antarctique. And this time, with the Antarctique P.04 Lanikai, Czapek has the edge. There is simply a great balance of casual sports style and inherent elegance. I mean, this is an era where celebs will wear big, brawny divers like the Sea-Dweller with a tuxedo.

The category of dress watches is being shaken up, mark my words. And while I love an 8mm-slim watch on a croc strap with a suit, the Antarctique is of our time. This is 2023, and a sleek-braceleted watch feels right under that crisp shirt cuff. For US$26,500, the upcharge for the P.04 Lanikai versus a standard Antarctique Passage de Drake (CHF 22,000) is considerable, but is it worth it? For me, the pure evocative power of the searingly blue dial and the deeply researched craftsmanship behind it says “yes.” This watch is available directly from Collective Horology and is limited to 50 pieces.

This is where you get your say, Fratelli. Has the Czapek Antarctique made as strong an impression on you as it has on me? For me, the P.04 Lanikai is a great interpretation of an already accomplished piece. Let me know what you think in the comments.

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