In a surprisingly short amount of time, Frederique Constant’s Highlife Collection has expanded, offering solid content in the highly competitive arena of the luxury sports watch. Launched just two years ago, the Highlife has appeared in all manner of complications, except the chronograph. Today, the brand unveils not one but three Highlife Chronograph Automatic in 41mm cases with integrated and interchangeable bracelets and straps. Frederique Constant has also stuck to its guns in its accessible luxury policy and retails its luxury sports chronograph for a competitive price starting under 3k euros.
Taking a dip in the pool for luxury sports watches is like swimming with sharks. There are the big sharks, the precursors of the concept with calculated shortages and stratospheric prices, and then there are a few smaller sharks like Maurice Lacroix and Frederique Constant vying for some of the action with accessible prices and copious supplies.
highlights of the highlife
Although it is hard to see how the first Highlife model of 1999 inspired the 2020 collection – save the interchangeable strap and bracelets – the name of the original nautical-inspired watch was chosen to represent the brand’s new luxury sports watch collection. Frederique Constant’s Highlife collection kicked off with a Perpetual Calendar (for under 10k), an Automatic with COSC chronometer certification, and a Heart Beat with an aperture on the dial to reveal the balance. In 2021, the Highlife reached out to women with a 34mm version followed by a Worldtimer Manufacture and Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar Manufacture, both with in-house movements and even a skeletonised model. The identity traits of the Highlife, which do not try and emulate any of the big sharks, are a 41mm barrel-shaped case with half-moon facets at either end, an engraved pattern on the dial suggesting longitude and latitude lines, elongated hour markers and baton hands with luminescent material, and an integrated bracelet that is interchangeable.
The new Highlife Chronograph Automatic is available in three variants: a two-tone white and blue panda-style dial in a steel case; a silver dial with rose gold-plated elements in a bicolour steel and rose gold case; and a black dial in a steel case. All cases conform to the 41mm diameter of the collection and display alternating brushed and polished finishings. For example, the rounded rectangular pushers flanking the crown, the round bezel, and the sides of the case and bracelet are polished, while the surface of the case and the outer lugs are brushed. A nice detail is how the pushers, set into the 14.22mm case, are slightly inclined, and their bases tapered to follow the contours of the barrel-shaped case. The case is water-resistant to 100m.
Still bearing the engraved longitude and latitude lines forming a globe on the dial, the snailed and slightly recessed sub-dials are arranged in the following order: small seconds at 9; elapsed times of 30-min at 3; and 12-hour counter at 6 o’clock. A date window has been tucked in between the markers at 4 and 5 o’clock and is picked out in the same colour as the dial.
There is no tachymeter scale on this chronograph, emphasizing the more casual nature of this model. The applied indices and baton-style hour and minute hands, all filled with white luminous material, differ in the two-tone model and are rose gold-plated to match the case material. The central seconds hand and the hands on the sub-dial are silver on the black and panda-style dial and gold-plated on the two-tone model.
One of the outstanding features of the Highlife collection is its interchangeable bracelet system letting you switch between the metal bracelet and the additional rubber strap provided in seconds. Among the three Highlife Chronograph Automatic, the limited blue and white panda edition comes with three strap options – stainless steel bracelet, a navy blue calfskin strap with a nubuck finishing and a navy blue rubber strap.
Automatic column-wheel chrono
The Highlife Chronograph is fitted with the FC-391 calibre, an automatic movement wound by a rose-gold plated rotor visible through the see-through caseback. The chronograph movement is an evolution of the Valjoux 7750 modified by La Joux-Perret. The cam-lever system of the Valjoux has been replaced by a higher-end column wheel, and the power reserve extended to 60 hours. After considerable work modernising and industrialising the column-wheel chronograph, La-Joux Perret’s L100 is one of the most competitive integrated automatic chronograph movements on the market and goes a long way in containing costs.
Availability & Price
The two-tone white and blue panda Frederique Constant Highlife Chronograph Automatic is limited to 1,888 pieces and retails for EUR 3,295. The bicolour rose gold-plated and steel model also retails for EUR 3,295, while the black dial version retails for EUR 2,995.
For more information, please visit Frederique Constant.com.
Alongside the launch of the new Highlife Chronograph Automatic collection, Frederique Constant also announces its collaboration with the French musician and producer The Avener, as the ambassador of its Highlife collection. French artist Tristan Casara, alias The Avener, has made a name for himself with his own original compositions, an electronic work with lofty sounds which include electropop pieces. After two years of silence, on May 6th, 2022, The Avener made its comeback and released a new track called Quando Quando.
In 2022, Frederique Constant and The Avener are joining forces to promote the Highlife collection. Illustrating Frederique Constant’s spirit of innovation and creativity, the Highlife collection also embodies that of the artist.