Frederique Constant enlarges its Classics Index Automatic collection with three newcomers and revisits the Heart Beat in two iterations. True to its mantra of ‘accessible luxury’, the watches feature restrained proportions, classic styling, a stamped pattern in the centre to suggest guilloché, automatic calibres, and, here’s the catch, a price tag that sets them in a different league from most respected Swiss watchmakers. FC’s message that quality is not symptomatic with prices that compete with your mortgage is getting louder and clearer by the day.
Classics Index Automatic
Touted by the brand as a ‘gentlemen’s watch’, the name of this particular family pretty much sums up its attributes. Classic to the core and decorated with elegant Roman numerals and indices, the Classics Index Automatic family is a traditional 40mm dress watch with central hours, minutes, seconds and a date window at 3 o’clock. The polished two-part case comes in either stainless steel on a steel bracelet, or rose gold-plated steel on a leather strap. The restrained diameter of the watch will fit most men’s wrists well and the profile of the watch is also moderate, coming in at just under 10mm.
The novelty here has nothing to do with the design of the case or the movement – which have not been touched – it is about the colour scheme on the dial. Maintaining its elegant minimalism, the dial plays with contrasting textures for a more refined look and greater legibility. The new steel version displays a fashionable navy blue dial and, to add a touch of old-school finesse, the centre of the dial is decorated with a “Clous de Paris” hobnail guilloché pattern (which is stamped and not manually done).
The other two models in rose gold-plated steel come with a light grey or a navy blue dial and all three display the hand-applied Roman numerals at XII, II, IV, VI, VIII and X along with the applied indices. The elegant leaf-shaped hands are hand-polished and match the metal of the case. Circling the hours and separating them physically and visually from the minutes track is a handsome raised ribbing, echoing the ribbing that surrounds the guillochage in the centre. In keeping with its dress watch spirit, the strap accompanying the gold-plated models is made from calf leather with crocodile scales and matches the colour scheme of the dial.
The Frederique Constant Classics Index Automatic is powered by a self-winding movement, the calibre FC-303, the internal name of the Sellita SW-200, an ETA clone with a 38h power reserve and 4Hz frequency. Its precision and reliability are proven and it gets the job done perfectly on a daily basis. In addition, the use of an externally-sourced movement (and not the in-house movement of the brand) keeps the price down. Ranging from EUR 850 for the steel to EUR 1,050 for the gold-plated models, the Classics Index Automatic are vying for a thick slice of the mid-range market.
Classics Index Automatic Heart Beat
In 1994 FC launched a watch with an aperture at 12 o’clock to reveal the balance wheel. Known as the Heart Beat, the design was conceived to emphasize the presence of its automatic movement. In a departure from the slightly more ornate Heart Beat models with a stepped bezel and date in the current catalogue, the two new Heart Beats adopt the more low-key contours and minimalist styling of the Classics Index Automatic family.
Like its siblings described above, the Heart Beat comes in the same 40mm stainless steel or rose gold-plated steel case and features the same decorative motifs and numerals on the dial. The main difference is the incorporation of a large aperture offering a view of the beating heart. The aperture is framed in the same colour metal as the case and the date window has been eliminated.
Fitted with an outsourced automatic movement – FC-310, based on a Sellita – beating at 28,800vph, the watch has a power reserve of 38 hours. The stainless steel model comes on a black Croco calf leather strap while the rose gold-plated version comes on a dark brown Croco strap. The steel version retails for EUR 1,250, the rose gold-plated for EUR 1,450.
More information on these two models and online orders at www.frederiqueconstant.com.