Believe us or not, but this watch is a massive development for Frederique Constant. Indeed, creating a chronograph movement is far from being a simple move. It is even one of the most feared development for a watchmaker, as the chronograph can be seen as one of the most complex types of complication, even if it’s a widely used one. Today, as Baselworld 2017 opens its doors, we take a close look at the new Frederique Constant Flyback Chronograph Manufacture, the first in-house chronograph of the brand, explained in video by Pim Koeslag (Head of Watchmaking) and with live photos.
Even if this video will give you as much details as you’ll need, we’ll still take a closer look at what the Frederique Constant Flyback Chronograph Manufacture is. First of all, this new watch stays entirely in line with the usual “affordable luxury” concept of the brand. This mean that you don’t have to expect an incredible increase of price, even to get your hands on a in-house chronograph. Most watch from Frederique Constant are in the 2,000/5,000 Euro price range and so does this Flyback Chronograph Manufacture. On the other, it also means that you can expect to see an integrated, column-wheel and vertical clutch architecture. That would be a bit too much in that price range… Yet, this watch has some very good arguments.
Visually, as explained in the video, this Frederique Constant Flyback Chronograph Manufacture marks a new era in terms of case design for the brand. While still relying on classical codes, with an elegant feel creating an almost dress watch, the 42mm shows new shapes and new execution. Before this watch, Frederique Constant cases were rather simply shaped, being all rounded and fully polished. Not inelegant for sure, yet not very distinctive. Here, the case combines brushed and polished surfaces, with a nice bevel running along the side of the lugs.
These lugs are also a bit more massive but better integrated in the whole case. Finally, the polished bezel is slimmer, making a watch lighter on the wrist. The “onion” crown, used on most FC watches, is also replaced by a more mature one, for a better integration with the dynamic rectangular chronograph pushers. Overall, this new design feels more elegant, more present on the wrist and increase the visual identity of the Frederique Constant Flyback Chronograph Manufacture. On top, again for a more luxurious feel, is a glass box sapphire crystal.
The dial on the other hand remains very Frederique Constant. This Flyback Chronograph Manufacture still relies on classical codes, with a clou de Paris pattern in the center, large and elongated Roman Numerals for the hours and Breguet-style hands, blued. Other editions will be available thought, with a more modern look (applied indexes, tachymeter ring, different tracks, more modern hands, with luminous paint) as you can see below. As usual, several options will be available, with Rose gold-plated or stainless cases, and silver or dark grey dial.
The layout of the dial is also rather enjoyable, as again playing with the codes of classical watches. While the hours, minutes and chronograph seconds are placed in the center, a small second runs at 9, a 30-minute counter is placed at 3 and, more unusual but practical and well integrated, a pointer date is located at 6. For once, no complaints about the presence of a date on a chronograph, as no unsightly date window will ruin the cleanness of the display. Overall, the dial fits perfectly with the usual design of the brand and creates a watch that has both elegance and the beauty of the chronograph layout.
Most important with this Frederique Constant Flyback Chronograph Manufacture is of course what you’ll find under the hood, meaning the in-house chronograph movement of the brand. First of all, keep in mind that this movement is based on a modular architecture. For obvious cost reasons, FC preferred to use their in-house, automatic base-calibre and to add on top a chronograph module – yet a quite interesting, well conceived module. Here are the main specificities to keep in mind:
- The flyback function, which allows to operate the chronograph and to start a new timing session without resetting it to zero. With the flyback, the chronograph’s hand can be stopped, reset to zero, and restarted with one push of a button. The calibre FC-760 of the Frederique Constant Flyback Chronograph Manufacture does feature this function, quite rare in this price range (usually reserved to high-end watches)
- The star-shaped wheel, which controls the chronograph operations. With this, the Frederique Constant Flyback Chronograph Manufacture differs both from the high-end, complex and rather fragile column-wheel systems and from the quite imprecise and demanding cam-operated mechanisms. In contrast, the caliber FC-760 has no standard-type column wheel, but a star-shaped one. Together with the operating lever, which is controlled by the start/stop push-piece, this component is responsible for the smooth and precise operation of the mechanism, while allowing to have a simple and reliable movement architecture.
- A simplified movement – while a chronograph usually requires multiple parts and a complex architecture, the movement of the Frederique Constant Flyback Chronograph Manufacture comprises only 233 parts, of which only 96 components are dedicated to the Flyback module. Less parts means less possible problems and an easier assembly and adjustment, reflected in the price of this watch. Don’t believe thought that such a small number of parts must imply loss of quality. This reflects much of a clever conception.
- A new clutch system – Its function is to establish the connection between the timekeeping part and the chronograph part. To achieve this, watchmakers are acquainted with three different designs: the classic horizontal wheel coupling, the oscillating pinion, also traditional, and lastly the modern vertical friction clutch. The FC-760 calibre had a new type of swiveling component with two toothed pinions. When the button is pressed, it connects the two modules (timekeeping and chronograph) together. At the lower level, in the watch movement proper, it takes up the rotation of the center seconds and conveys this, via the corresponding upper component, to the actuating mechanism to turn the chronograph hands. At the same time, the lower central seconds also drives the seconds hand at 9 o’clock, which turns continuously in unison. The rotations of the chronograph hand are “recorded” by the 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock. Repeating pressing of the start/stop push-piece causes slight pivoting of the clutch lever. The chronograph stops. At the same moment, for perfect legibility, a small locking lever ensures that the two stopping hands pause exactly at the last position chosen.
Altogether, the movement of the Frederique Constant Flyback Chronograph Manufacture reveals not the most complex and most desirable conception ever seen, but instead a clever and simplified way of being designed, which doesn’t have to be seen as a drawback. It mainly means greater reliability and possible great precision when coupling the chronograph function. The base movement remains known, with automatic winding, nice decoration, 38h of power reserve and modern 4Hz frequency.
To conclude, the package offered by this Frederique Constant Flyback Chronograph Manufacture is both very pleasant visually and technically. This is an impressive move from a company that already impressed us with a perpetual calendar priced at 8,000 Euro. This Chronograph will come for a much more accessible price, as retailing for 3,695 Euro.. Now, that’s a competitive offer. frederiqueconstant.com.
Specifications of the Frederique Constant Flyback Chronograph Manufacture
- Case: 42mm diameter – stainless steel or rose-gold plated stainless steel, polished and brushed – glass box sapphire crystal, see-through caseback – 50m water resistant
- Movement: FC-760 Manufacture caliber – automatic – 4Hz frequency – 38h power reserve – hours, minutes, small second, pointer date, flyback chronograph
- Strap: alligator leather strap with folding buckle
- Price: starting from 3,695 Euro