The Avener Mixes It Up with Frederique Constant and the Highlife Collection
What happens when you combine the young French DJ The Avener (and his 2 billion views on YouTube) with the watch industry? Frederique Constant gains a talented new brand ambassador for its Highlife collection, which recently added a chronograph complication to its stable.
Driven by a shared passion for creativity, modernity, and innovation, the Swiss watch brand Frederique Constant and the French DJ and music producer The Avener, a.k.a. Tristan Casara, recently announced a collaboration.
Specifically, The Avener became the ambassador of the brand’s highest-profile line, the Highlife collection.
When looking at the collection’s design, I can’t help but feel a sense of awe at how successful the Highlife collection has been in bringing a fashionable sport-chic watch to the market for a reasonable price. Moreover, it rebooted Frederique Constant’s reputation as a “classical” and “traditional” brand in a way that I don’t think anyone could have predicted.
And to celebrate its new brand ambassador, Frederique Constant introduced three versions of a highly anticipated addition to the collection: the Highlife Chronograph Automatic.
Thus, with the Highlife Chronograph Automatic “blue panda” on my wrist, Watchonista traveled to Milan to admire the novelties and interview Frederique Constant CEO Niels Eggerding.
Highlife Chronograph Automatic
Created in 1999 (just eleven years after the brand’s founding in 1988) and relaunched in 2020 by Niels Eggerding, the Highlife collection has made its mark on Frederique Constant’s story by breaking the brand’s classical codes and representing about 40% of the brand’s sales.
“I was responsible for growing this product for six years as Commercial Director and Vice President,” Eggerding explained. “When I arrived, we had about 2,000 points of sale. And we had close to 3,000 points of sale before the COVID-19. I saw that we started to struggle. We were accessible and classical, but we missed a clear opportunity. And that’s where the reflection began.”
As a result of this reflection and to meet the diverse wants and needs of Highlife collectors, Frederique Constant is offering three different versions of the Highlife Chronograph Automatic, all of which share the same 41mm stainless steel case that is water resistant to 100 meters.
Of course, the dials still bear the collection’s signature engraving of the Earth – a symbol of its cosmopolitan nature – at its center. But when it comes to the chronograph counters, these new models have an unusual inwardly curved flange that offers a deeper perspective and easier reading of the chronograph indications.
Developed in collaboration with La Joux-Perret, the FC-391 calibre that powers this trio includes a rose-gold plated oscillating weight decorated with Côtes de Genève and beats at a frequency of 28,800 alt./h, guaranteeing 60 hours of power reserve.
Pricing & Availability
The new Frederique Constant Highlife Chronograph Automatic is available in three versions. Two versions are steel, one of which is a limited series of 1888 pieces called “blue panda,” and the third is two-tone, alternating between steel and rose gold plating. Finally, besides the strap or bracelet the model comes on, each version also ships with an additional interchangeable strap or bracelet. The retail prices range from CHF 3,195 to CHF 3,495.
Proust-Inspired Interview with Niels Eggerding
Before leaving Milan, I seized the opportunity to catch up with the brand’s CEO Niels Eggerding and proposed a quick Proust-inspired interview that revealed his current mindset.
What is your current state of mind?
Excited! I am very happy to do events again. I am also very happy that the Highlife collection is so successful. So, I am excited but a bit anxious because I am also looking at the next 2-3 years.
In your opinion, what is the most overrated “virtue” in watchmaking today?
Honestly, I think the whole industry is a bit overrated and in a bubble. That is why we are navigating our brand more towards accessible luxury. But there is still a huge gap between us and the luxury brands.
Before the brand’s founders, Peter and Aletta Stas, left the company, what was the best piece of advice they gave you?
Peter has always been a mentor to me, and he taught me to stay down-to-earth, focus, and be a strong leader. For me, it’s important that he continues to help protect the brand’s DNA, so I still occasionally check in with him when I want to receive his feedback on a product. As we are still very young, our DNA could be easily lost.
Currently, what is your most pressing challenge?
Definitely, the same supply chain issues as the rest of the industry and maintaining production despite them. Additionally, I think what is more difficult to achieve today than it was three years ago is team enthusiasm. Since the COVID-19 lockdowns, it has been a challenge for people to overcome a sort of pandemic malaise, re-engage with office culture, and re-establish a work rhythm.
What is your greatest fear?
My deepest fear is to fail. Failing for me means that I won’t manage to grow the brand even with all the substantial plans that we have prepared and are now putting into place.
What is it like to be CEO of Frederique Constant?
Very good! I have been steadily growing in the position since Peter and Aletta made me the managing director. Honestly, it took me three months to digest and accept the offer, but the transition was very smooth.
Now, I feel very comfortable, and I have a great team around me.
To learn more about the brand and its collections, visit the Frederique Constant website.
(Front image by Lorenz Richard, Photography by Watchonista)