Frederique Constant, founded in 1988, is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year. 2023 also marks the brand’s very first appearance at Watches and Wonders. It was only fitting that the brand chose to celebrate the occasion by unveiling its special novelties at the world’s most premier watchmaking gala in Geneva, which also happens to be the brand’s home turf.
The two launches include a piece that perfectly captures the journey of the Manufacture over the years: an all-new version of the Classic Tourbillon Manufacture. The other release is the latest addition to the Highlife Ladies Automatic Sparkling line. GMT India takes a closer look at both the launches.
Celebrating traditional Swiss watchmaking withthe Classic Tourbillon Manufacture
With this piece, the Manufacture revisits its Classic Tourbillon Manufacture and gives it a new, more refined look. It doubles up as a symbol of Frederique Constant’s dedication to celebrating the very best of traditional Swiss mechanical watchmaking. Every last detail of the new Classic Tourbillon Manufacture honours the legacy of the brand. What’s more, 18 ct rose gold — reserved solely for the Manufacture limited editions — has been used in crafting the case; only 150 pieces of this model will be produced, each individually numbered. The diameter at 39 mm differs from those on previous versions that used to come housed in 42mm cases. The new model has modern, comfortable curves that allow the timepiece to comfortably sit on the wearer’s wrist. It offers a water resistance of 30 metres.
The Manufacture boasts no fewer than 30 in-house calibers and one of these is its tourbillon that comes fitted with a silicon escapement wheel and anchor. The tourbillon is located at 6 o’clock and the hand, discreetly passing above the tourbillon cage, functions as the seconds indicator. The 81-component cage bears an engraving of the individual serial number of the watch; this can also be found on the sapphire caseback. The piece is powered by caliber FC-980 that was first unveiled 15 years ago, in 2008, and went on to become one of the brand’s showcase developments. The power reserve measures up to about 38 hours. Since 2008, the tourbillon aperture has been in the shape of a distinct ‘comma’, but for this edition, the comma has been let go of in favour of a perfect circle.
The sun-brushed dial comes in an anthracite grey; the hand-polished rose gold-plated hour and minute hands have been redesigned to be longer and narrower. The applique hour markers and hands feature diamond cut edges that add an extra shine. The Classic Tourbillon Manufacture comes with a dark matte brown leather strap; the deployment clasp bears the Frederique Constant coat of arms, especially reserved for Manufacture pieces.
Embracing blue skies and stardust with the Highlife Ladies Automatic Sparkling
The Highlife collection was first launched in 1999. Since its major comeback three years ago, the collection has cemented its place at the forefront of a distinct Geneva-style elegance that is now associated with Frederique Constant. The Ladies version, introduced in 2021, incorporates all the right notes of that style into a delicate 34 mm case. This year, the Frederique Constant Highlife Ladies Automatic Sparkling (available in a limited edition of 888) flaunts a striking, sky-blue colour on the dial. The subtle silver fragments strewn across are reminiscent of stardust, bringing to mind a gently twinkling skyscape.
At first glance, the timepiece — housed in a brushed and polished stainless steel 34 mm case — makes a refined statement. The 60 diamonds (0.50-carat each) along the rim of the bezel add a touch of sparkle and the silver-plated, hand-polished hands enhance the overall elegance. The hours are marked by eight star-like diamonds, arrayed two by two in the four quadrants of the dial. For 6, 9 and 12 o’ clock, subtly luminous appliqué hour markers have been used; these add an extra gleam to the dial after sundown. The date window placed at 3 o’clock perfectly complements the subtly stylish aesthetics. It comes with a water resistance of 50 metres.
Just like the original Highlife collection, this offers integrated interchangeable straps too, so that the wearer can effortlessly transition from a chic, glamorous look to a more urban vibe. The integrated steel strap lends well to formal occasions while the cloud-white rubber strap is better suited to casual outfits. The three-link steel strap can alternate between matte and glossy finishes; the strap comes with a pin buckle elegantly decorated with the Frederique Constant coat of arms. Similar to the dial, the case sports alternating brushed and polished surfaces to create an elegant interplay of light. The sapphire crystal is glare-proof, thus allowing perfect readability under all conditions. The caseback reveals the automatic movement that runs the piece: the FC-303 caliber, finely decorated with a spiral motif. There’s a 38-hour power reserve.