For more than 15 years, Frederique Constant has been associated with the world of vintage sports cars and historic rallies. The limited Vintage Rally collection pays tribute to one of the most emblematic British sports cars, the Austin-Healey. Since 2004, Frederique Constant and the Austin-Healey car brand have been partners resulting in one of the most enduring associations in the industry. A new year means a new collection, and for 2021 Frederique Constant releases a series of Vintage Rally Healey watches. Following the models with centre seconds last year, here are the new Vintage Rally Healey Automatic Small Seconds models.
The HEALEY 100S NOJ 393
Just like last year’s models, the new 2021 edition pay tribute to one of the most important Healey cars. Ten years ago, the NOJ 393 ex-Works 1953-55 Austin-Healey Special Test Car/100S set a world record. Not a speed record, but a record price at auction for an Austin-Healey when Bonhams sold it for GBP 843,000 (close to USD 1 million). Untouched since the 1960s, according to Bonhams’ press release, the car was in a ‘barn find’ state. Fans of classic cars will be familiar with the story behind the NOJ 393. As one of Austin-Healey’s Test Cars, the NOJ 393 competed in the 1953 Le Mans 24 Hours and went on to become the 100S prototype racing at Sebring, the Carrera Panamericana and Nassau.
The car, however, gained its (sad) popularity in 1955. During the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the car, driven by Lance Macklin, was involved in one of the worst accidents in the history of motor racing. As Mike Hawthorn’s Jaguar D-Type stopped for a refuel, Macklin and his Healey had to change direction. Arriving at high speed (over 120mph) just behind, French driver Pierre Levegh onboard a Mercedes 300 SLR couldn’t avoid the Austin Healey 100S and crashed into the back of the car, which acted as a ramp and launched Levegh’s car into the air, flying over spectators and rolling over and over for 80 metres. As a result, over 80 spectators died – an event that would change the face of motorsport for decades to come.
Following this race, the 100S NOJ 393 was rebuilt at the factory and participated in several races in 1956. It disappeared for the following 42 years before being fully restored and sold by Bonhams.
The Vintage Rally Healey Automatic Small Seconds
Last year’s models in the Vintage Rally Healey were fitted with a central seconds layout. For the new collection, Frederique Constant has updated the display and now offers three watches with a new small seconds indication combined with a date at 3 o’clock.
The case is identical to the previous models. Measuring 40mm in diameter with a reasonable height of 11.5mm (incl. the crystal), these Vintage Rally Healey Automatic Small Seconds are simply and elegantly shaped. You wouldn’t imagine a watch honouring a vintage British car to have a bold, ultra-sporty look anyway. The 2-part case is made of stainless steel and is entirely polished. Among the three versions available, two have a classic steel case, and one is rose gold-plated, as often with Frederique Constant – to add a touch of luxury, without the price of solid gold. The caseback is screwed and hides the movement, but that’s positive because it is engraved with the Healey NOJ 393 vintage car.
The dial, or the display, to be precise, is the main evolution on the 2021 editions of the Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey. Replacing the centre seconds by a small seconds indication positioned at 9 o’clock makes these watches a bit more animated. It adds a certain retro charm, which perfectly matches the overall theme. Other than that, the watches are identical regarding the shape of the hands, the presence of a white seconds track on the periphery and a nice set of applied markers, combining pointy batons and Arabic numerals at 12 and 6 o’clock.
The Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Automatic Small Seconds will be available in three distinct editions. The first is a classic, which couldn’t be more British with its racing green dial; the second is a modern, more understated take with neutral colours; the third is more luxurious.
- FC-345HGRS5B6 – stainless steel case, dark green matte dial, silver-coloured hands and applied indexes, brown leather strap
- FC-345HGS5B6 – stainless steel case, mid-grey matte dial, silver-coloured hands and applied indexes, grey leather strap
- FC-345HNS5B4 – rose gold-plated stainless steel case, dark blue matte dial, gold-plated hands and applied indexes, blue leather strap
All models in this Vintage Rally Healey Automatic Small Seconds collection are powered by the same movement, the calibre FC-345. Behind this name is a modified Sellita SW 200-1 with its centre seconds replaced by a small seconds. Beating at 4Hz and delivering a 38-hour power reserve, it is a no-nonsense choice with reliability, serviceability and accessibility in mind.
As for the straps, Frederique Constant opts for nicely executed and adequately designed perforated “rally” straps in calf leather. All have contrasting off-white stitching and are closed by a steel pin buckle.
Availability & Price
Each model in the Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Automatic Small Seconds 2021 collection will be limited to 888 pieces. They are now available from FC’s online boutique or authorised retailers. The steel models retail for EUR 1,595. The rose gold-plated model retails for EUR 1,895.
For more details and orders, please visit frederiqueconstant.com.