When Innovation Gets Creative: Frederique Constant Launches the Hybrid Manufacture
The first-of-its-kind timepiece was introduced in New York on Wednesday evening in front of an international crowd as well as three-time Academy Award nominated actor, Mark Ruffalo.
On an almost balmy February evening that saw the day’s temperature reach into the seventies in New York City, something special in the world of horology took place. As hundreds of journalistic eyes looked on – many of which travelled across an ocean to be there – the President of the Frederique Constant Group, Peter Stas, took to the stage to talk time and technology.
Back in 2015, Frederique Constant was the first Swiss watch brand to introduce what they called the “Horological Smartwatch” with functions including activity tracking, sleep monitoring, text and call notifications, and cloud backup that could be viewed via an associated mobile phone app. The watch was well-received, particularly with those who liked the idea of a Smartwatch but preferred the look of a classic timepiece. Still, the timepiece wasn’t mechanical in the traditional horological sense. The introduction of the Frederique Constant Hybrid Manufacture, however, changes the game, entirely.
The Hybrid Manufacture is a prime example of what the watch industry can do to modernize itself while still paying homage to the old-world techniques that make Swiss watchmaking so indispensable.
The watch is part old, part new; part heritage, part imagination. And while on paper, the idea could have come off as quixotic to some, the end result is nothing short of enterprising.
By integrating their in-house developed, produced, and assembled patented FC-750 caliber movement with functions similar to those on the Horological Smartwatch (plus a few added extras), Frederique Constant set itself apart from all other brands producing their own versions of these type of watches right now. Another major difference? It’s all packaged into a fine looking, gender-neutral timepiece, so let’s talk about the esthetics for a moment before getting into the technological and mechanical features.
Look and feel
One of the things I’ve always been impressed by as it pertains to Frederique Constant as a whole is how beautiful the guilloche work on their dials is, and the dial of the Hybrid Manufacture is no exception. The face of this watch has a sophisticated appearance which includes printed indexes, hand-polished hands, a date counter at the 6 o’clock mark and the connected counter at 12 o’clock. The movement and the technology are housed in a 42mm, brightly polished stainless steel (or rose gold) case containing a convex sapphire crystal and clear case back, all accompanied by a finely made alligator strap. And yes, believe it or not, the watch is also water resistant to 50 meters.
Mechanical – Yet connected
Now, let’s talk tech. The “connected” features for the Hybrid Manufacture include activity tracking (so that you can finally get rid of those horrible looking rubber fit bracelets), sleep monitoring (total time asleep, sleep percentage, and more), a Worldtimer function (including local 24-hour time and a 2nd time zone), analytics, pusher settings, dynamic coach, and automatic microwave popcorn starter. (Okay, that last one was a lie, but I wanted to see if you were paying attention.) And each function is accessible through the easy-to-use Hybrid app which connects to the watch – through Bluetooth technology – via the pusher button located on the left side of the watch’s case. But again, these are largely the same type of functions that were available with FC’s 2015 Smartwatch. However, what wasn’t available was the in-house mechanical movement.
The patented FC-750 mechanical movement is an automatic caliber, has automatic winding, and its functions include the date at 3 o’clock, date counter at 6 o’clock, hours, minutes, and central second’s hand, all developed in-house. But as a bonus, the integrated circuit board of the FC-750 is also developed in-house by the brand, and it is this electronic part of the caliber that enables the connected functions of the Hybrid Manufacture watch.
Mr. Stas explained on Wednesday evening how important it is to him and to the brand to “let more people enjoy luxury.”
He went on to talk about how some 50,000 Horological Smartwatches have been sold since the concept was first introduced by Frederique Constant three years ago this week. When actor Mark Ruffalo was asked why he felt a connection to the brand and what drew him to this watch in particular, he replied,
“One of the things that is appealing about these is that they’re a really good quality, but that they’re also affordable, and they’re affordable to young people, too.” – Mark Ruffalo
The Frederique Constant Hybrid manufacture is available starting April 2018 in four versions and has a starting price of $3,495.00.