Frederique Constant and Its Complicated Dress Watch Would Make Watchmakers of Yore Proud
Frederique Constant’s 31st in-house movement and the compelling watch that houses it combine complications, strong value and an uncommon attitude toward watchmaking.
Founded in 1988, Frederique Constant just celebrated its 35th birthday and no fewer than 30 in-house movements under its belt. To mark the occasion, the Classic Power Reserve Big Date Manufacture watch introduces its 31st and offers the combination of elegance, horological interest and strong value upon which the brand has built its reputation. Here’s why it’s special.
Multiple complications delivered by a Swiss in-house movement would indicate a hefty price tag to anyone that knows anything about watches. But enthusiasts familiar with the contemporary watchmaking landscape will also know Frederique Constant—and the brand’s reputation for making genuine and innovative horology more accessible to many.
What exactly you get from the Classic Power Reserve Big Date Manufacture is largely right there in the name: It’s aesthetics are “Classic,” and it features no fewer than three complications including its eponymous “Power Reserve” indicator and digital “Big Date” powered by a “Manufacture” (in-house) movement. The third complication is a moon phase display at 6 o’clock.
But classic doesn’t mean boring. All of these complications are emphasized on the dial, resulting in an asymmetrical layout that immediately draws the eye and begs to be examined closer—or commented upon. The look is clean and yet betrays the movement’s complexity. A lesser brand might not have produced as natural-feeling a design, but Frederique Constant manages to balance multiple features on a dial in a compelling, rather than disjointed, manner.
The date feels central to this watch’s concept. Echoed by the moon phase providing a visual and romantic view of the month, the date is also elevated to a complication worthy of appreciation—rather than tucked away like supplementary information as is far more common in contemporary watches.
Instead of a single disc under the dial carrying 31 dates of the month, the big date complication uses two discs, one for each digit. If you think about it, this entails significantly more complexity and gearing under the hood than the standard single-disc solution, but the result is the ability to emphasize the date and make it easier to read than would otherwise be possible. It’s also just more interesting.
This is all courtesy of the brand’s own FC-735 automatic movement which is on display through the watch’s caseback, its balance wheel pleasingly centered and visible through the rotor’s skeletonized architecture. It offers 50 hours of power reserve, and this is displayed for convenience on the dial at the 9 o’clock position.
The power reserve indicator isn’t just convenient, but it serves as a reminder of the movement inside and helps the wearer feel more connected to the little machine on his or her wrist. It’s fun to observe the hand stretch along its scale as you wind the crown and, there’s a strong argument to make that it’s relevant even on a self-winding watch. Even automatic watches can wind down if you’re a collector switching between watches from day to day and even if you wear only one watch but have a desk job that entails less frequent wrist movement. Moreover, chronometry is at its best when the mainspring is fully wound.
It’s further notable that Frederique Constant has managed to fit all the information on the dial as well as the complexity under it into a compact 40mm-wide and 12.19mm-thick case while still keeping the looks clean and fresh. The case comes in polished steel with two dial options (non-limited) as well as rose gold with a black dial (limited to 350 examples) or platinum with a blue meteorite dial (35 examples).
The platinum and meteorite reference is an aesthetic favorite for collectors wanting something truly special. For a solid option you can wear daily as well as show off at your local watch meetup, however, steel is an easy choice. Available with a silver dial or blue dial, these models best represent the brand’s commitment to value and excellent but approachable watchmaking. The silver dial model in particular offers strong legibility and pleasing contrast of colors with the blue moon phase disc and the red warning zone of the power reserve indicator.
Though young, Frederique Constant represents classical watchmaking like few other brands, and the Classic Power Reserve Big Date Manufacture watch showcases the brand’s unique approach expertly. With conservative aesthetics but genuine horological chops, one recalls watches from eras that today’s enthusiasts and collectors tend to mythologize. The wow moment with Frederique Constant comes not from the likes of contrived novelty or marketing hype, but rather from palpable quality and experiencing the spirit of traditional watchmaking first-hand. That’s exactly what the Classic Power Reserve Big Date Manufacture offers.
Frederique Constant Classic Power Reserve Big Date Manufacture
Movement: Frederique Constant FC-735 automatic, 50-hour power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, moon phase, big date, power reserve indicator, water Resistance 30m
Dimensions: 40mm wide, 12.19mm thick
Case: Steel; rose gold; platinum
Availability: Non-limited (steel); 350 examples (rose gold); 35 examples (platinum)
Price: USD 4,995 (steel); USD 19,995 (rose gold); USD 27,995 (platinum)
FROM THE SHOP
|Manual winding Sellita caliber AMT5100, with rose gold plating and custom bridge for Furlan Marri; 58-hour power reserve; heated blued steel screws
|Hours, minutes, small seconds and flyback chronograph
|38mm (46mm from lug to lug); stainless steel with olive-shaped pushers for Honey Blue flyback, Taupe flyback and Tasti Tondi pushers for Salmon flyback; water resistant to 50m
|Taupe, blue, or two-tone salmon and black (Revolution edition); double printed text with pulsations scale, polished applied indexes
|Italian leather with quick release system
|270 pieces per reference + 30 collector boxes (including one of each references) in addition.