Baselworld 2019: Frederique Constant Updates Its Best Bang For The Buck Tourbillon
The Perpetual Calendar Tourbillon Manufacture collection welcomed two new versions at Baselworld.
A quick recap: The husband-and-wife team of Peter and Aletta Stas founded Frederique Constant in 1988 with a goal to produce reasonably priced Swiss watches with high-end complications and finishes.
Last September, to celebrate 30 years in the business, the Plan-les-Ouates-based manufacture introduced The Frederique Constant QP Tourbillon Manufacture to the world. Priced at under $20,000 — unheard of for a Swiss made Perpetual Calendar Tourbillon. And the world lost its mind.
It was so successful that just six months later, Frederique Constant has expanded the collection with two new timepieces.
Even though the Citizen Group acquired Frederique Constant in 2016, the Perpetual Calendar Tourbillon Manufacture collection embodies its founder's visionary quest to democratize Swiss watchmaking savoir-faire.
The centerpiece of the in-house automatic FC-975 in-house movement is its silicium escapement wheel and anchor. This material counters errors caused by the effect of the Earth’s gravity when the movement is in a vertical position. It is also lightweight, reduces the need for oil, and is resistant to temperature change.
All of these things in combination with the tourbillon, aim to provide ultimate precision.
While the technical specifications haven’t really changed since being launched last year, the aesthetics have been updated.
The two new Perpetual Calendar Tourbillon Manufacture models are presented in a substantial 42mm diameter 3-part case, available either in polished stainless steel or in 18k rose gold. Both come with a see-through case back so that one can admire the delicate Côtes de Genève decoration.
Both new versions feature a stunning, skeletonized silver color dial with navy blue sub-dials and outer ring and blue alligator strap. It is an exquisite watch, but the blue accents also add a slightly sportier, more youthful feeling to the otherwise traditional design. Which is perfect for the audience Frederique Constant aims to reach. Not quite entry level, but a younger buyer who might be making their first super complicated watch purchase.
FOREVER AND EVER
The Perpetual Calendar Tourbillon Manufacture is a highly sophisticated complication that needs to acknowledge the number of days in each month, while also displaying the year and automatically adjusting for leap years. That’s a lot of information for one watch to account for.
When properly maintained, this Perpetual Calendar won’t require manual correction for 400 years, unless you are using the Gregorian Calendar. Then you'll need to adjust on March 1st, 2100.
What makes Frederique Constant's collections memorable in general is their commitment to developing, producing and assembling their movements entirely in house. To keep the price of The Perpetual Calendar Tourbillon competitive, Frederique Constant has also industrialized the production process in the areas where it matters most.
This allows for a consistency of parts, which in turn makes timekeeper even more precise and after servicing even simpler. Still, the human touch is very evident in the aesthetics, such as the hand polished, three-part case, and the elegant perlage hand decorated components visible through the skeletonized dial.
The Perpetual Calendar Tourbillon Manufacture timepieces are an excellent showcase for the research and development, precision and complexity that goes into high-quality watchmaking, while also embracing innovation. And again they are also a great value!
(Photography by Liam O'Donnell)