It is not a secret anymore that Frederique Constant has built its success around accessible luxury watches. The idea has long been to provide complications and in-house movements (at least within the Manufacture collection) at almost unprecedented price levels. Remember the brand’s take on the perpetual calendar? Less than 8k euros at launch time. Same with the Highlife Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar, priced below 23k euros. Earlier this year, FC presented a new, streamlined tourbillon watch, the Classics Tourbillon Manufacture, with an in-house automatic movement housed in a gold case (and yes, that was also fairly priced). It now returns in two new stainless steel editions, and once again price is somewhat making a statement.
With only a few exceptions to the rule (and I won’t mention China-made tourbillons here) such as TAG Heuer and recently Horage and CODE41 (both newcomers with the idea to make a name for themselves), watches featuring a tourbillon are expensive. Period. You’ll hardly find anything under 30k euros, specifically if you want something Swiss and in-house. Except that Frederique Constant has long demonstrated its capacity to bring complications to the masses (relatively speaking, of course). Perpetual calendars, flyback chronographs, world-timers… And there was even the Monolithic, an ultra-innovative redefinition of the oscillator, which came at a very decent price too. And all of that was made possible thanks to a rather clever construction of the movements.
Earlier this year, during Watches and Wonders 2023, Frederique Constant presented a redesigned version of its classic tourbillon watch. Sleeker, slightly more modern and quite elegant, it was housed in an 18k rose gold case paired with a grey sunray-brushed dial. Two new editions are launched, now in stainless steel, making them not only even more restrained but also fairly accessible, at least compared to the competition.
The basics of these new Classics Tourbillon Manufacture steel watches remain the same, with a polished 3-part case with reasonable dimensions; 39mm in diameter and just below 11mm in thickness. It’s nicely designed, with sleek lines and straight lugs, for an elegant but not too formal style. Both editions are paired with a blue alligator leather strap with matt finishing, and closed by a steel folding clasp.
The dial sticks to the style introduced on the gold model, with much simpler lines too. No more faux-guilloche pattern and Roman numerals, but instead a more contemporary sunray-brushed base with applied markers and hand-polished hands. Available in blue or silver, the dial is all about the opening at 6 o’clock, revealing the one-minute tourbillon with nicely finished cage and bridges – decoration includes chamfering, circular graining, flanks drawing and mirror polishing, and blued screws.
Inside the case is an in-house movement, the calibre FC-980. Automatic, with a central rotor, it is an evolution of the classic time-only base calibre found on most in-house watches, with the standard regulating organ replaced by a one-minute tourbillon. Equipped with silicon escapement wheel and anchor, it beats at a 4Hz frequency and boasts 38h of power reserve – a bit short, but the automatic winding compensates.
Released as limited editions of 350 pieces per colourway, the new Frederique Constant Classics Tourbillon Manufacture Steel watches are priced at EUR 14,495. Quite decent for a Swiss-made tourbillon, objectively. For more details, please visit frederiqueconstant.com.