Frédérique Constant is a relatively new Swiss luxury watch Manufacture, founded in 1988 by Dutch entrepreneur Peter Stas and Aletta Stas-Bax. Their mission was to produce in-house Swiss mechanical watches at accessible prices, not restricting them to wealthy connoisseurs. The brand's first watches launched in 1992, a collection of six models with outsourced Swiss movements. Just two years later in 1994, the Heart Beat model launched as one of the brand's signature models. The balance wheel was displayed via an opening in the dial, a popular aesthetic now copied throughout the industry. In 2004, the Heart Beat calibre FC 910 launched as the first in-house movement, establishing the company as a vertically integrated Manufacture. Within three decades, the brand enjoyed rapid expansion with no less than 15 in-house movements (including tourbillon, perpetual calendar and moonphase complications), and even acquired Alpina Watches in 2002. Frédérique Constant is now a subsidiary of Citizen Watch Company after being acquired in 2016, along with Alpina and DeMonaco. Peter Stas continues to serve as CEO.
The company innovated rapidly since its first in-house calibre, producing in-house Moonphase and Date editions of the Heart Beat model the following year, and the automatic Heart Beat calibre FC-930 in 2006. Silicon escapements were then produced in 2007, following the introduction of the technology by Patek Philippe in 2005. The Heart Beat calibre FC 935 Silicium was the first to use silicon escapements in October 2007. Silicon is virtually frictionless and doesn’t require lubrication, providing more durability and precision than more conventional materials. The brand’s first in-house tourbillon movement launched in 2008 with a silicon escapement as well, the calibre FC-980. Modern technology has also been embraced by the company with the launch of its Horological Smartwatch in 2015, an analog piece with smartwatch features (powered by a computerized module). It followed up with the Hybrid Manufacture in 2018, a traditional in-house mechanical watch with integrated smartwatch electronics.
Like many luxury brands, the company has formed some partnerships over the years, most notably with the Riva Historical Society in 2009 – a Milan-based association dedicated to preserving classic Riva boats. Limited edition automatic Runabout models launch annually with a nautical theme, Swiss movements and accessible prices. A miniature wooden Riva boat replica is even included in the box. The company has also sponsored the Hélice Classique Genève and Lake Tahoe Concours d’Elegance boating events, featuring the classic wooden boats. Additional sponsorships include classic car rallies worldwide, such as Healey Challenges, Peking to Paris and the Carrera Panamericana. Limited edition watches are produced to pay tribute to each of these events.
Accessible luxury isn’t just a marketing gimmick for Frédérique Constant with stunning pieces like the Perpetual Calendar Tourbillon Manufacture selling for under EUR 20,000. In-house perpetual calendars can be had for well under EUR 10,000 with in-house moonphase w/date models selling for under EUR 3,000. Peter Stas and Aletta Stas-Bax have realized their dream of producing luxury Swiss watches as a vertically integrated Manufacture for enthusiasts with down-to-earth budgets. An extraordinary achievement in such a hyper-competitive, global industry with brands going back several centuries.