Frederique Constant’s perpetual calendar is one of my personal favorite success stories in the affordable watch space. That’s not to say their perpetual calendar is “affordable” by any rational definition of the word, but if you know the complication, you understand that it’s usually found in watches well into five figure territory. The fact that Frederique Constant is able to produce a rather good one under $10,000 is a fairly remarkable achievement, and theoretically allows a whole new segment of the watch buying public to experience what many collectors and enthusiasts would argue is the signature complication in all of watchmaking. A perpetual calendar is one of those seemingly magical things – a mechanical watch that’s smart enough to account leap years, and theoretically never has to be re-set. As a watch enthusiast who is not particularly technically inclined, and is often astonished at the comparatively simple mechanisms in your run of the mill three-hander, a perpetual calendar, when you really stop to think about it, is kind of mind blowing.
The newest version of Frederique Constant’s perpetual calendar is a collaboration with the Naked Watchmaker, otherwise known as Peter Speake and Daniela Marin, whose names you most likely recognize from their eponymous Speake-Marin brand, which continues today without their involvement. The Naked Watchmaker (TNW) project, if you’re not familiar with it, was conceived as a sort of watchmaking education for the masses. Their YouTube teardowns of various movements are informative, well photographed, and not overly technical (I can follow along with them without a problem, so you probably can too), and the website features dozens of informative interviews with seemingly every important person in the watch industry as well as detailed explanations of various mechanical movements, both contemporary and vintage, all from Peter Speake’s perspective as a master watchmaker. What TNW really excels at is making something as mind bogglingly complex as watchmaking approachable for just about anyone.
It makes sense, then, that TNW would work with Frederique Constant on their first collaborative watch, as the idea of access is so important to both brands. The new watch, officially dubbed the Naked Watchmaker x Frederique Constant Perpetual Calendar Manufacture Limited Edition (I swear I’m not paid by the word) incorporates this thematic idea into the design itself, with a largely skeletonized dial that far more contemporary in its execution than what we normally see from Frederique Constant. The skeletonization is an attempt on the part of the design team here to emphasize the complexity of the perpetual calendar movement, while giving the wearer a window into the movement itself (literally). The hands have been skeletonized as well to keep the view of the movement from the dial side as unobstructed as possible.
The layout of this perpetual calendar will be familiar to anyone who has followed releases of watches with this movement over the last few years, but this new collaboration offers some refinements to the presentation that add up to a fairly substantial change. Most notably, the day and date subdials at 9:00 and 3:00, respectively, have been enlarged, which gives the dial a better sense of balance. (The early FC perpetual calendars were rightly criticized for having subdials that felt too small and crammed into the dial’s center). Additionally, the months indicator at 12:00 has been adjusted to be more easily visible, and the hand indicating the year has been removed. Replacing it is a color based indicator that tells the wearer if we’re in a leap year. These design tweaks are found in a package that incorporates blue bridges and gold elements in the movement with a brown dial motif that makes for a warm and inviting color combination. Brown dials aren’t for everyone, obviously, but in my opinion they’ve nailed it.
Like other Frederique Constant perpetual calendars, this one uses their FC-775 movement, modified slightly for this limited edition with the previously mentioned blue bridges and gold wheels. It has a 39 hour power reserve, and is housed within a 42mm stainless steel case. This is a limited edition of 99 pieces, and carries a retail price of 9,995 EUR. It’s currently available for pre-sale until July 5, with approximately half the cost due at the time of ordering. Delivery is expected in November. Frederique Constant x The Naked Watchmaker