True innovation in mechanical watchmaking is rare. Many of the same methods and techniques at work today were put in place more than a century ago, and while they serve as a testament to the true timelessness of this hobby, they make breakthrough progress something to be earned. At the heart of every mechanical watch is the regulating organ, consisting of many components that ensure a consistent release of the mainspring’s power. The hairspring and balance wheel are mainstays of the old guard, and now, with the Frederique Constant Monolithic regulator, obsolete.
Such momentous leaps in watchmaking are few and far between, but what Frederique Constant has shown with their new Monolithic regulator is a profound reimagining of a core mechanic of timekeeping. Rather than beginning with the classic sprung balance and palette fork, Frederique Constant has created something entirely new, replacing 26 parts of the traditional standard assortment with a mere 3. In doing so, they’ve turned that page to a new era of watchmaking and shown a fearlessness to innovate in the face of tradition.
Frederique Constant have created something entirely new with their Monolithic regulator, supplanting the hair spring, balance wheel, and everything that comes with them, right up to the escape wheel, with a single piece of monocrystalline silicon. While a traditional escapement makes around 28,800 vibrations per hour, the Frederique Constant Monolithic oscillator will make an astonishing 288,000 vibrations per hour, or 40 Hz. This ultra-high frequency allows unparalleled precision, and is allowed thanks to the single, flexible piece of silicon, which can vibrate far faster than any sprung balance.
This remarkable configuration simplifies the most sensitive part of any mechanical watch, and reduces potential fail points by removing more than 20 parts in the process. The entirety of the regulator can be placed within the confines of a traditional escapement footprint, meaning this component could be fitted to existing calibers within an already impressive stable of Frederique Constant movements.
Frederique Constant has placed their Monolithic oscillator, developed in partnership with Dutch based Flexous, and the true benefits are impressive. Thanks to its monocrystalline silicon composition, this oscillator is 100% anti-magnetic, resilient to variations in temperature, less sensitive to gravity and four times lighter than a regular assortment. Additionally, there is less friction generated due to the removal of a mechanical coupling. This means less power is required to drive the escape wheel. All this adds up to an impressive 80 hour power reserve and no need for lubrication, meaning greater long term reliability and performance.
The first movement to feature the Monolithic oscillator is the FC-810 Monolithic Manufacture calibre, and will be housed in the Frederique Constant Slimline Monolithic Manufacture. The watch itself is a marriage of traditional watchmaking aesthetics with the tech-forward FC-810 Monolithic Manufacture caliber. The guilloché dial receives Roman numerals at each hour with a date compilation nestled within a sub-dial at 12 o’clock. At the dial’s bottom we’re treated to an opening that reveals the Monolithic oscillator flexing away at 40 Hz, nearly imperceptible to the human eye. It’s a striking contrast made beautiful by the gold or polished steel case with exhibition back to reveal the traditionally finished bridges and plates.
The watch comes together harmoniously to reveal a truly unique offering from Frederique Constant, showcasing stunning design paired with groundbreaking technological advancements. Most impressively, the Frederique Constant Slimline Monolithic Manufacture is priced at just $4,895.