In the three decades since Peter and Aletta Stas founded Frederique Constant, the Geneva-based manufacturing watchmaker has delivered on its promise to develop Swiss-made ‘affordable luxury’ to watch enthusiasts. Even when the company began developing in-house calibers in 2004, its carefully controlled design and production processes aimed to retain a high value-to-price ration across all its collections.
When it made its first perpetual calendar two years ago, Frederique Constant again stuck to its mission. That premier Slimline Perpetual Calendar model wowed collectors and critics alike with its thin Caliber FC-775 movement, attractive dial layout and a double-take price (less than $9,000 for the steel-cased model).
Building from that perpetual calendar, Frederique Constant this year celebrates its thirty-year anniversary by launching a Limited Edition Perpetual Calendar Tourbillon Manufacture. The watch, with the all-new FC-975 manufacture caliber, starts with a perpetual calendar and then adds a Frederique Constant tourbillon with silicon escapement wheel and anchor and a specially made balance wheel.
To enhance its anniversary celebration, Frederique Constant presents four examples of the new Perpetual Calendar Tourbillon Manufacture Collection. One of the four 42mm models is a limited edition of thirty pieces with a rose gold case and a skeleton dial. A second skeleton model is cased in steel and offered as a limited edition of eighty-eight pieces. The remaining two models, with silver-colored dials, Clous de Paris guilloché decorations and printed Roman numerals, are cased in steel and in plated rose gold. These are also limited to eighty-eight pieces each.
The Perpetual Calendar complication on each watch displays the day, date and month and not only acknowledges the number of days in each month, it also displays the year and will automatically adjust itself for the leap year. Once adjusted, it will take into account the months with 30 and 31 days, the 28 days of February and also the leap year cycle with the return of 29th of February every four years.
The tourbillon is clearly visible at 6 o’clock. Its built-in hand acts a second indicator since it rotates once per minute. For collectors, each cage is sequentially numbered on the top plate in the center of the cage, matching the limited edition number on the case. Frederique Constant explains that it has successfully industrialized its tourbillon manufacturing processes using its own a silicon escapement wheel, anchor and a ‘smart weight’ balance wheel.
But it’s not just the balance wheel that demonstrates smarts with this 30th anniversary launch. Considering the overall presentation of these four Perpetual Calendar Tourbillon Manufacture models, these watches, particularly the two skeletonized examples, demonstrate Frederique Constant’s firm continuing adherence to its ‘affordable luxury’ tenets.
Yes, these are not inexpensive watches, but in the realm of timepieces that combine both these complications, I’m not aware of a Swiss-made example at anywhere near this price that combines the technical fluency and classical design Frederique Constant has devised with this set of watches.
Prices: $19,995 (two models in steel), $22,995 (rose gold plated), $32,995 (rose gold)