Earlier this year Frederique Constant got a lot of press with the horological smart watch; something that didn’t make us very enthusiastic, it has to be said (too much electronics for a wrist watch in our opinion.) Today however we can share the news of a new timepiece that does put a smile on our face, simply because it’s A) very attractive and B) in an interesting price range. Meet the Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph Automatic.
The Swiss watch brand Frederique Constant was founded in 1988 by my fellow-countrymen Aletta and Peter Stas. The company has become a huge success, mostly in the price range that we usually do not cover here on Monochrome (sub 1k), however with their new in-house movements the collection becomes much more of an interest, because of the ‘mechanical content’. The Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph Automatic that we have at hand here, is powered by an outsourced movement with a chronograph module (most likely by Dubois-Depraz.) That might be less exiting than an in-house movement, however it also allows Frederique Constant to keep the price reasonable. Retail is € 2.850 for the steel version and € 3.200 Euro (including tax) for the rose gold plated variation.
Gold-plated? Yes, gold-plated! That’s something you will not see much here on Monochrome, because we usually cover the higher end of the spectrum, however it is something that is used in the watch industry on a large scale. For instance when you’re looking for vintage chronographs (on Ebay or Chrono24) you will often see vintage watches with a gold case and a steel case-back. This is usually a sign that the gold case is actually gold-plated. Since the gold-plating done to keep the price fair, it would make no sense to gold-plate the case back as well, and it would only increase the price. This also allows Frederique Constant to offer such a nice looking chronograph for just over € 3k. In full gold it would be double or maybe triple the price.
For quite a few years Frederique Constant has been involved in classic car rallies, and the brand is a longstanding partner of the (late) Austin Healey car brand. To underline this partnership, Frederique Constant has introduced several timepieces with the logo of Austin Healey on the dial, and these two chronographs are the latest to be added to the collection.
As we already mentioned, inside ticks an outsourced movement that is responsible for indicating hours, minutes, seconds and the date. It also powers the measuring of elapsed time by means of the chronograph, which is started and stopped by the pusher at the 2 o’clock position, and the pusher at 4 allows you to reset the chronograph counters to zero. Calibre FC-397 has 25 jewels and a 46-hour power reserve.
The case measures 42 mm in diameter, and features a convex sapphire crystal over the dial, and a flat glass pane allow a nice view on the movement. While it’s clear that the stainless steel version has a silver dial with applied silvered indices, the pictures are less clear about the dial colour of the rose gold plated version. It looks black, however according to the information we got, it is actually dark green. This dark green dial features rose gold plated applied indices, and, like the silver dial, features an engine-turned pattern and the Austin Healey logo.
The Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph Automatic comes on a leather strap with big rally-style holes; something that we here at Monochrome really appreciate! A black strap for the steel version, and a brown strap for the rose gold plated version. Both are limited to 2888 numbered pieces and come with a Healey NOJ393 car miniature model.