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Frederique Constant unveils a new look for its Classics Heart Beat Manufacture collection, revealing a new dial, new indexes and a retro 39mm case.

The Frederique Constant Classics Heart Beat Manufacture in a 39mm steel case. The new design is also offered with a pink gold case.

Perhaps the most notable change in the new design, which debuts this week during Geneva Watch Days,  is how the Geneva-based watchmaker is exposing the watch’s escapement, or ‘Heart Beat.’

Rather than the ‘comma-shaped’ aperture at the 12 o’clock position that characterized the dial of the Heart Beat collection since 2004, the new collection erases the comma in favor of a true circle that is now positioned at the 6 o’clock position.

The first Frederique Constant Heart Beat models in 1994 quickly became a signature design for what was then a young watchmaking company. The look has been emblematic for the company in the years since, and Frederique Constant has used the design to introduce its FC-910 manual-wind manufacture caliber in 2004, as well as its FC-930, the watchmakers’ first automatic caliber, a few years later.

Original size

The aperture update is only one aspect the Heart Beat’s redesign. A 39mm case size is a return to the original dimension of the Heart Beat Manufacture models, which have been offered in larger sizes in recent years. And the 2022 collection also boasts more classical Roman numerals on the dial, paired with thinner indexes.

Frederique Constant notes that the new, subtler indexes overlay a lacquered white dial and are paired with traditional railway markers, echoing watches of the early 20th century.  Finally, Frederique Constant revives the same hand design it used in 2004, with a slender leaf shape for the minutes and “heart” hand for the hours.

The onion crown on the watch, which will be retained on the new collection, winds an automatic FC-930-3 manufacture caliber, which offers a thirty-eight hour power reserve. Frederique Constant decorates the movement with fine pearling and Côtes de Genève stripes, visible through the open caseback.

Frederique Constant is offering the new Classics Heart Beat Manufacture, in two limited series’. The first is cased in pink gold on a brown alligator strap and limited to 93 pieces ($17,995). The second is made of steel on a black alligator strap and limited to 930 pieces ($4,395).  Availability is in December 2022

 

 

Frederique Constant helps celebrate this July 4th with a red, white and blue U.S.-exclusive limited edition worldtimer. The Geneva-based watchmaker issues its 42mm steel-cased Classics Worldtimer Manufacture: Summer of 76 as a limited edition of seventy-six pieces to commemorate U.S. Independence Day.

The new Frederique Constant Classic Worldtimer Manufacture: Summer of 76.

With a red seconds hand and date accent, blue hands, blue dial and an appropriately hued trio of straps, the new watch clearly favors the colors of the American flag. And to underscore its American tribute, each watch will be sold with a red alligator leather strap with off-white stitching, a white alligator leather strap and a blue rubber strap.

Not enough July 4 references? Check out the red star that replaces the 4 in the date display and the American flag amid the U.S. cities listed on the 24-hour time flange.

 

 

 

 

 

Ten-year anniversary

First seen ten years ago, the Classics Worldtimer Manufacture has been one of the watchmaker’s best sellers, combining classical world time functionality with a contemporary display ­– and a surprisingly affordable price tag. Collectors have also been drawn to its in-house traditional world time movement (the FC-718 automatic caliber), a rare feature in a watch priced less than $5,000.

Like its pricier counterparts, this worldtimer allows its wearer to read the time in the twenty-four cities that represent the global time zones of reference, all with immediate indication of daytime or nighttime. And all Classics Worldtimer indications are set with the crown. This means that a traveler need not worry about changing the time as he or she enters another time zone. The local time (by central hands) and the domestic time (by the moving disk) are automatically synchronized with each other.

This latest worldtimer is the third made by Frederique Constant to celebrate the watch’s tenth anniversary. The watchmaker says that this U.S. exclusive edition shows “the importance of the U.S. market for the brand.”

Frederique Constant will offer the Classics Worldtimer Manufacture: Summer of 76 as a limited edition of seventy-six, with pre-ordering now for delivery in November.

Price: $4,795.

 

Specifications: Frederique Constant Classics Worldtimer Manufacture: Summer of 76

(FC-718USWM4H6, limited edition of 76)

Movement: Automatic FC-718 in-house caliber with all functions adjustable by the crown. 
Perlage & circular Côtes de Genève decorations
, 38-hour power reserve, 28,800 alt/h.

Case: Polished 42mm by 12.1mm stainless steel three-part. Scratch-resistant and anti-reflective convex sapphire crystal, see-through caseback, water-resistant to 30 meters.

Dial: Light blue and silver with globe decoration, black pearl color applied indexes filled with white luminous treatment, 
24H disc with day (white) & night (blue) indication,
 white city disc with 24 cities and U.S. flag. 
Hand-polished blue color hour and minute hands Hand-polished red color second hand. Light blue date counter at 6 o’clock with sunray guilloché decoration in the center, hand-polished silver color hand and a red star replacing the number 4.

Strap: Red alligator leather with off-white stitching. 
Includes an additional white alligator leather strap and a blue rubber strap.

Price: $4,795. Limited to 76 pieces.

 

 

Frederique Constant’s partnership with Austin-Healey has produced many of the Geneva watchmaker’s most fetching watches, with most featuring British racing green somewhere on the dial.

The new Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph Automatic.

Fortunately, this year’s debuts are no exception. But for 2022, which happens to be the 70th anniversary of Austin-Healey, Frederique Constant offers a twist with the debut of two Healey limited editions.

This year Frederique Constant will make two versions of a new Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph Automatic. The watch, with bi-compax dial and two racing red hands, will be made with one non-U.S. version limited to ten watches while a second will be made as a 700-piece limited edition.

The difference between the two is a simple numeral swap: On the ten-piece limited model the watchmaker references Austin Healey’s 70th anniversary by replacing the numeral 12 with the numeral 70 at the top of the dial. The 700-piece edition features the 12 in its traditional location, with “70th Anniversary” text at 6 o’clock.

Both watches are 42mm steel chronographs powered by the watchmaker’s Sellita-based FC-397 automatic caliber, visible via sapphire caseback. The dial here is one of this watchmaker’s finest thanks in part to its British Racing Green hue, red chronograph hands and the Healey logo in its original font.

The classic bi-compax dial offers a seconds counter on the left and the chronograph’s minutes counter on the right. The two chronograph hands are easy to read in their bright red hue with the central hand for the seconds and the 30-minutes countdown hand at the three o’clock position.

Frederique Constant provides an asphalt black strap finished with two lines of topstitching said to mimic the two white lines marking the edges of a racetrack.

The new Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph Automatic comes in its dedicated gift box alongside a miniature replica of the famous Austin-Healey 100S, number plate NOJ393.

Price: $3,195.

Specifications: Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph Automatic

(Ref. FC-397HDGR5B6, a limited edition of 700)

Movement: FC-397 caliber (Sellita-base), automatic
 48-hour power reserve, 25 jewels, 28,800 vph.

Case: 42mm
by 14.45 mm polished stainless steel (3-part) with scratch-resistant convex sapphire crystal and case back. Water-resistant to 50 meters.

Dial: Dark green with matte finishing, white graduation printed on inner ring and outer ring, applied silver color indexes filled with white luminous treatment, Arabic number 12, Healey 70th anniversary logo at 6 o’clock, silver color hour and minute hands filled with white luminous treatment, red chronograph seconds hand,
chronograph’s minutes counter at 3 o’clock with red hand,
60 seconds counter at 9 o’clock with silver color hand.

Bracelet: Black calf leather strap with off-white stitching.

Price: $3,195.

 

 

 

Frederique Constant refreshes its Classics Heart Beat Moonphase Date with a new model that boasts a rich blue dial emphasizing the watch’s mostly contemporary design.

The Frederique Constant Classics Heart Beat Moonphase Date, now with a rich blue dial.

In this handsome update, the light blue classic moonphase display nicely balances the very modern open Heart Beat aperture exposing a portion of the movement – a long-time Frederique Constant signature.

This pleasing symmetry is just one of many pleasures Frederique Constant reliably (and affordably) delivers with this refreshed design, which the Geneva-based manufacturer first debuted with lighter dials eight years ago.

The 40mm steel watch allows the wearer to read the current moonphase, the time and the date while also gazing at a portion of the balance wheel within the Heart Beat aperture beating at 28,800 vibrations per hour. On display is the watch’s Sellita-based automatic FC-335 movement, which is also visible through the sapphire back.

The watch’s Sellita-based automatic FC-335 movement is visible through the clear sapphire back.

To maintain its visual balance, the watch features no third aperture to display the date. Instead, a fourth hand with its own arrow tip points towards the date, shown in a circle on the flange.

The watch’s winding, hours, minutes, date and moon phases are all adjusted with the single crown. Its four positions allow for full control of the displays. The first position winds the movement, while the fourth adjusts the time. In an unsurprisingly display of technical fluency, the wearer can change the date in the second position and the moon phases in the third, as long as the hands are first positioned at 10:10. This protects the mechanism from being damaged.

As is often the case with Frederique Constant’s Classic models, the dial here is decorated with Clou de Paris guilloche.

Price: $2,095

  

Specifications: Frederique Constant Classics Heart Beat Moonphase Date

(Ref. FC-335MCNW4P26)

Movement: Automatic FC-335 caliber (Sellita-based), 38-hour power reserve, 28,800 vph.

Case: 40mm by 10mm polished stainless steel, two-part, scratch-resistant convex sapphire crystal, see-through case back. Water-resistant to 60 meters.

Dial: Navy blue with clous de Paris guilloché in the center. Printed white Roman numerals
, date graduation on outer ring, white hour, minute, second and date hands. Heart Beat opening at 12 o’clock, moonphase display.

Strap: Navy blue calf leather with off-white stitching, steel pin buckle.

Price: $2,095

By Gary Girdvainis

I think it was just after the 2008 crash that the calls started coming in.

Complete strangers were calling our offices and inquiring about watches as potential instruments for investment. From their perspective it seemed to make sense. Fine timepieces have perpetual and intrinsic value, are liquid and easy to convert to cash and small enough to secret away in a bank deposit box or home safe. Some will even appreciate over time.

Bernhard Lederer’s stunning Central Impulse Chronometer.

To these speculators and investors, the watch was simply a widget and could be anything (think NFTs), a device in which to insert capital and to be added to the other elements of a portfolio.

This cold, calculating valuation of wristwatches has gained momentum over the last decade-plus and is fueling rampant and runaway pricing on several preferred models. Some of which have seen values soar to ten, fifteen or even twenty times the original retail price.

The Jacob & Co. Jean Bugatti in a rose gold case.

This explosive surge has been brought on by a kind of perfect storm. First-off it could not happen without the internet. In the pre-internet era values would still climb on preferred pieces, but the forces pushing the growth were operating at a statelier pace. Watches would see price growth at auction, or via secondary sales at retail shops. The growth was not as immediately visible and volatile as the current state of viral information pathways.

The RGM Model 222-RR is a modern wristwatch with a vintage heart, featuring a Hamilton pocket watch movement and a ‘grand feu’ enamel dial.

Another factor is the fear of missing out. Buyers (note I did not say collectors) want to hop on board before the train leaves the station and are fueling the fires of desire and driving costs through the roof.

Forgive me if I feel that buying a watch purely as an investment is a sterile event without any real enthusiasm for the product, or any chance that the “investment” watches will ever see the light of day. Chances are the commoditized timepieces will sit in the dark until the next transaction, never to be enjoyed, shared, or shown-off except to confirm authenticity.

The Chopard Alpine Eagle Cadence 8 HF.

I’m a watch guy and have been for a long time. I appreciate the look, feel, sounds, and even smells (that vanilla scent on a nice rubber strap) that evoke pride of ownership and real enjoyment. Whether an affordable field watch with great lume, or a repeater softly chiming the time, watches are meant to be worn just like cars are meant to be driven.

I have a friend that has had amazing financial success in life. He recently invited me to his home and knowing I’m a car enthusiast was happy to show me some of the exceptional cars he had acquired over the years. One of which was the famous 1955 Jaguar D-Type. Designed for racing at LeMans and other venues, the D Type also happens to be street legal.

The Arnold & Son Ultrathin Tourbillon, now in two new designs, feature a new type of dial with tinted gold and aluminum sparkles to match either a platinum or gold case.

So as my friend sees me gaping at his exquisite machine, he tells me to look under the wheel well. I bend over, careful not to touch the coachworks, and look underneath. What I see is a spattering of mud on the wheel well liner. Not only does he drive this seven-million-dollar car, he drives it around town and even drives it to the track on vintage race days!

This post first appeared in the Winter 2022 issue of iW Magazine.