Frederique Constant Parties with a New Tourbillon and a Limited Edition Highlife Ladies at Watches & Wonders 2023
The Geneva-based brand is celebrating the big “Three-Five” with its first appearance at Watches & Wonders.
For all the talk about how watch brands are engaging younger enthusiasts, Frederique Constant is one of the few brands that could call itself a millennial.
Founded in 1988, the manufacture is celebrating its 35th anniversary with its first appearance at Watches & Wonders. More importantly, however, Frederique Constant is also marking the occasion with three new takes on timepieces that best demonstrate its philosophy of affordable luxury.
Shall we unwrap these gifts now?
The Classic Tourbillon Manufacture
For our money, Frederique Constant’s tourbillon is the best value proposition for this complication anywhere, ever, full stop. Developed entirely in-house and hand-assembled, the new Classic Tourbillon Manufacture represents traditional Swiss timekeeping at a price that, well, not everyone can afford but is still much more accessible than most.
Most of all, the new Classic Tourbillon Manufacture timepiece embodies the brand’s founders’ quest to democratize Swiss watchmaking through savoir-faire and innovation.
Housed in a 39mm 18-karat rose gold case, this model (priced at $27,995) shines a bit brighter thanks to its polished metal. More than that, though, it also feels a little warmer against the skin (and the somewhat sculptural silhouette of the case already felt very comfortable on the wrist). And since it’s limited to only 150 pieces, this anniversary model might be more difficult for collectors to get their hands on because it is a little fancier than previous iterations of the three-hander.
Powered by the in-house FC-980 calibre, the Classic Tourbillon Manufacture also pays tribute to the brand’s history of technical savvy. Unveiled in 2008 and immediately becoming one of the firm’s showcase developments, the FC-980 calibre has a silicon escapement wheel and anchor, thus creating a non-magnetic movement that was also unaffected by variations in temperature, which was the whole point of the original tourbillon.
On the new Classic Tourbillon Manufacture, Frederique Constant has also finished the FC-980 calibre with beveling, beading, circular graining, straight-grained flanks, and mirror polishing – all of the hallmarks of traditional Swiss watchmaking. Plus, the movement has 38 hours of power reserve.
Available for pre-order as you read this, other fine details include applique hour markers and hand-polished golden hands that hover over an anthracite grey sun-brushed dial. Like all the manufacture’s pieces, this tourbillon is also set on a leather strap with a deployment clasp that proudly bears the Frederique Constant coat of arms.
The Highlife Worldtimer
The power of youth and hope for the future also make an appearance in the Highlife collection. So, in tribute to one of Frederique Constant’s most popular collections, the brand has released two new editions of its Worldtimer Manufacture watches.
In only three years, the Highlife collection has emerged as Frederique Constant’s flagship collection. So, of course, we are expecting something exciting to come out of Watches & Wonders, and these two timepieces do not disappoint.
First, there’s the 35-piece limited edition 18-karat rose gold model with a petroleum blue dial that costs $25,995. Then, to keep things democratic, the second piece available for only $4,495 is an unlimited edition in steel with a chocolate-colored dial. Both displays feature the Highlife Worldtimer’s signature Earth symbol, complete with lines of latitude and longitude and a sunray finish at 6 o’clock on the date disc.
The dial features luminous, gold-colored appliqué hour markers matching the three central hands indicating hours, minutes, and seconds. The size and shape of the hands are beautifully done so as not to obscure the external disc marked with 24 cities (denoting 24 time zones) nor block the second internal disc displaying the time in each reference city. Meanwhile, blue and white backgrounds allow the wearer to effortlessly discern between night and day.
This delicate dance is made possible through the automatic FC-718 manufacture calibre powering this model with 38 hours of power reserve. It’s an easy-to-use calibre in which all indications are set using the crown, thanks to an ingenious three-notch system. The first notch is for winding the watch; the second sets the date (going upwards) and reference city (going downwards), and the third sets the time on the central display.
Highlife Ladies Automatic Sparkling
It wouldn’t be a birthday party without getting a little glammed up. That is why we were delighted to see that the Highlife Ladies Automatic Sparkling, a big hit when it came out in 2021, is back with a limited edition of 888 pieces and a price tag of only $3,995.
This year, the sky-blue dial is injected with a sprinkling of stardust, while the bezel comes alive with beautiful diamonds. Sixty 0.45-carat diamonds surround the heavenly dial on a bejeweled chapter ring. And because all of this glitter is gathered in a 34mm steel case, there’s plenty of space for the light of these precious stones to dance around.
This anniversary edition of the Highlife Ladies Automatic Sparkling doesn’t stand on ceremony alone. Suitable for formal occasions with its integrated steel bracelet, you can also let loose in more casual situations by slipping into its interchangeable cloud-white rubber strap.
The Automatic Sparkling also comes with a finely decorated Swiss Made automatic movement visible through a sapphire caseback.