A decision made a decade ago proves a masterstroke for Frédérique Constant.
Classics Manufacture, $3,680, by Frédérique Constant
For a relatively young brand, Frédérique Constant is punching way beyond its weight category. It has managed to create a watch for everyone, regardless of gender, budget and requirements. And it has kept up its promise of affordable luxury - high-quality timepieces without the exorbitant price tags - with its offerings each year.
Double Heart Beat Black Beauty, $6,550, by Frédérique Constant.The Black Beauty is powered by the self-winding Calibre FC-310.
The Black Beauty is powered by the self-winding Calibre FC-310.
This year is no exception, with the launch of Black Beauty, the latest addition to the Double Heart Beat collection. Like its predecessors, two intertwined hearts form an aperture at 12 o’clock to show the movement. But with the black mother-of-pearl dial, eight diamond-set indices and a bezel set with 48 full-cut diamonds, the watch lives up to its name. Powering it is the FC-310 automatic calibre, which boasts bridges decorated with Côtes de Genève pattern - a rarity, since most brands would opt for a quartz movement for women’s bejewelled pieces.
For the men, the Swiss watchmaker has the new Classics Manufacture collection. Besides the usual gentlemanly and elegant styling, it sports the new in-house Calibre FC-710. A closer look at the proprietary movement will reveal decorations of the highest standards: Côtes de Genève and Colimacon patterns with a brighter shine, thanks to the rhodium finishing.
“The Classics Manufacture is targeting the typical Frederique Constant consumer: An up-and-coming professional, enthusiastic about fine Swiss watches from Geneva, but not necessarily ready to spend a fortune on his passion,” says Peter Stas, its founder and chief executive.
What makes the Frédérique Constant story particularly appealing is that this small outfit - relative to the brands owned by luxury behemoths - is able to manufacture its own movements despite high and rising production costs. And they are of superior standards, at that.
This is thanks to its groundbreaking decision in 2001 to develop its own movement. Then, it worked closely with École d’Horlogerie de Genève, the École d’Ingenieurs de Genève and the Horloge Vakschool Zadkine from the Netherlands to develop its first-ever in-house movement - the Heart Beat Manufacture. Which is why a decade later, despite the movement crunch due to the Swatch Group controlling supplies, it is still standing strong - and earning accolades along the way.
Frédérique Constant’s road to building up its arsenal of in-house movements, in a glance.
The birth of Frédérique Constant’s first-ever in-house movement, the Calibre FC-910, also known as the Heart Beat Manufacture. The watches fitted with it come with a signature aperture in the dial and mainplate at 6 o’clock. It has since spawned newer versions with added complications.
Frédérique Constant introduced its first Tourbillon Manufacture movement (FC-980) with a silicium escapement wheel.
Calibre FC-700, its second base calibre, was created. This new movement boasted the same standards as the FC-910 but its manufacturing costs were reduced by 30 per cent. This was known as the Maxime Manufacture.
The new Classics Manufacture joins the family. Based on the second generation of the Maxime movement, the Calibre FC-710 features an additional seconds hand. Also, a modified version of FC-700, featuring a world timer, arrives in the form of the FC-718.