Bohematic Graphic Sutnar: Czech Watchmaking By Design
Yeah, I know that the Czech Republic has never been famous for its wristwatches. There have been quite a few great and well known Czech clock makers in the past, but no great wristwatches.
You have to go back to the last century to find the roots of the modern Czech watchmaking tradition, in horological names like Spartak, Adast, and Prim.
But there has been a significant change over the last two decades: new millennium, new chapter.
An increase in demand for the luxury watch segment has little by little brought brave entrepreneurs to this field. Alongside brands like Prim Manufacture 1949 and independent watchmakers like Ludek Seryn, who is currently a candidate member of the A.H.C.I., there are a handful of others creating exciting watches.
Because there is always something cooking these days, a new independent company with big ambitions has now arrived on the scene, too: Bohematic. And – surprise, surprise – in good watchmaking tradition, the company has established itself in the northeast part of the Czech Republic in the little town Nové Město nad Metují, where the famous Prim Manufacture 1949 is also at home.
The team behind Bohematic
Bohematic is made up of the people who shape its spirit and atmosphere – and also the emotions its watches exude. Bohematic is an ambitious project founded by investor Josef Zajíček together with Michal Froněk and Jan Němeček, the famous names behind respected design studio Olgoj Chorchoj.
They have already worked on watch design projects in the past, including the technical concept of the Prim Cylinder model from 2009 and the 2018 anniversary Prim Republika watch paying tribute to 100 years since Czechoslovakia’s founding.
In any case, the mechanical watch segment has been a rather marginal one for the design studio, which has primarily focused its attention on architecture and utility design. The duo comprising Froněk and Němeček, who also teach product design at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague, was behind the visuals of many products from Czech brands TON, Bomma, Kavalier Glass, Moser, and Mikov knives – and even the interior of famous restaurants like the Michelin-starred La Degustation Bohéme Bourgeouise.
And now Bohematic pays homage to Czech design with its own style and its own watches.
Bohematic Graphic Sutnar: for typology lovers
The studio of this new micro brand is on the ground floor of a townhouse built in 1907, which until recently served as a bank. Within an area measuring approximately 200 square meters, the ground floor and basement have become a new sanctuary dedicated to fine mechanics.
The very first prototype of the Graphic line of watches was born right there (just as COVID-19 was right at its peak). The purpose of the Graphic model line is to highlight the biggest icons of contemporary and historical graphic design and to commemorate them.
The Graphic Sutnar is an homage to Ladislav Sutnar, the most significant figure in the interwar period of modernism, whose fame spread throughout the world. Sutnar was deliberately chosen as the historical figure to launch the line and the brand.
However, the Graphic Sutnar watch bears not only the name of the world-renowned artist, but also a unique font for its numerals. Sutnar created this font in 1958, which included numerals and part of the alphabet to designate houses in New York’s Bronx.
This font subsequently served as inspiration for Tomáš Brousil, a contemporary world-class typographer who creates complete fonts for brands such as FIFA, Delta Airlines, Lasvit, and Electronics Arts. He also created the Ladislav font, which was applied to this watch.
The same font is used for the Arabic numerals on the dial, which are created by electroforming in the Czech factory Liss; it took ten months to perfect the production technique. The Ladislav font is also found on the date disk, which is printed right in the studio – which makes it very easy to customize colors on request, something that also applies to the dial color.
In combination with a very slim bezel, the distinctive dial attracts and catches the eye much more than you might expect.
In addition to the numerals, date aperture, and logo at 12 o’clock, the dial is also highlighted by two luminescent triangles at 12 and 6 o’clock.
Bohematic: getting there step by step
Bohematic is not producing much (yet); it takes a lot of time to finish the semi-finished parts that are delivered, all of which have been specially crafted on the basis of the brand’s unique design.
The case, bezel, and hands are manufactured in Switzerland, but require considerable adjustments and finishing once they arrive. One watch case, for example, takes up to two hours of work before polishing even begins. The supplied hands, created by milling (with the exception of the second hand, which is laser cut), are in some cases tempered blue in the studio, while in other cases are galvanized black. And the luminescent layer is also applied in the Czech studio.
Perhaps the most amount of work is needed to finish the crown, which is available in three different looks: sandblasted, sandblasted with gray PVD coating, and sandblasted with black PVD coating.
The Bohematic logo is etched with the aid of a laser and can be filled with cold enamel in a different color. However, most of the effort is spent hand polishing all 105 knurls around the circumference of the crown.
Bohematic Graphic Sutnar: taking a look inside
A similar situation occurs with the supplied movements. In the case of the basic Graphic Sutnar model, the brand utilizes manually wound Eterna Caliber 3909M, which guarantees a 65-hour power reserve.
The movement’s balance is adjusted in the Czech studio and, with the help of a laser, logo and numbers are marked on the côtes de Genève-decorated bridges, marking both the model and the production serial number (this is also marked on the lower right lug of the case and on the case back).
In the near future, Bohematic plans to use a flyback chronograph movement from the La Joux-Perret workshop. The brand is also negotiating with renowned manufactures like Schwarz Etienne and Vaucher for other movements.
But today is all about the Graphic Sutnar model. Its Eterna movement is housed in a newly designed 42 mm steel case – exclusively European iron used for the steel of this case, too. The bezel was also created from the same steel and is attached to the case using 12 functional screws featuring a unique head design.
The sapphire crystal is slightly domed and bears anti-reflective coating on the inside. Delivered on a leather strap supplied by the renowned Šíma Prague studio, this watch will cost about €4,000.
The Bohematic future
Bohematic has a relatively small team at present comprising two watchmakers, Jana Volfová and Lukáš Ešner, product manager Renata Eichlerová, and engineer Petr Dressler, who have a vision for the near future. They work closely with CEO Pavel Ziecina, who has known them for many years.
The team had previously worked together at Elton, which produces Prim watches – so it is as well coordinated as the 1990s Chicago Bulls.
As well as the relatively affordable Graphic collection, the team is already working on a new project called Minor, which incorporates design aspects of the renowned Czech racing car Aero Minor Sport, which won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1949.
The only concern I have is the speed with which the studio is attempting to produce. Calm down, guys, don’t rush it! I believe that the mission to show prominent Czech designers to the world will flourish, bringing pieces of modernism to private collectors’ watch winders and satin-lined cabinets.
I think of others who have grown too quickly and fallen like sinning angels. Only with a properly conscious tempo will this prolific, inventive collective be able to acquaint collectors with legendary names like Ladislav Sutnar.
I would counsel Bohematic not to feel too restrained by the traditional so as to allow maximum space for creativity. Only the fearless can make it in this world of watch nerds.
For more information please visit www.bohematic.cz.
Quick Facts Bohematic Graphic Sutnar
Case: 42 x 12 mm, sandblasted stainless steel
Movement: manual-winding Eterna 3909M, 65-hour power reserve, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date
Jan Lidmaňský is a watch collector and journalist from the Czech Republic; follow him on Instagram at @watch_the_food.