For Frederique Constant’s big new release at this year’s Geneva Watch Days, the brand is reaching back to their roots with a pair of watches that are very much in line with the traditional design language the brand has long been known for. While they’ve recently ventured into sporty territory with the Highlife series, I think it’s fair to say that when most people think of Frederique Constant the watches that come to mind are more ornate, on the dressier side, and take major style cues from classic designs by Patek, Vacheron, and others. The new Classics Heart Beat Manufacture is certainly in that core Frederique Constant wheelhouse, but there are a few subtle upgrades here that tweak the standard FC dress watch formula to make these watches worth highlighting.
The centerpiece of the Classics Heart Beat Manufacture is, not surprisingly, the aperture at 6:00 that gives the wearer a view of the balance in action. This is a design trope that Frederique Constant has used frequently over the years, and while it might not be a favorite feature of hardcore watch enthusiasts, it’s the kind of thing that tends to bring new collectors into the hobby as they discover the romance of a mechanical movement.
A close look at this particular aperture, though, reveals a key difference between the Classics Heart Beat Manufacture and every other Heart Beat timepiece Frederique Constant has made since 2004. For nearly twenty years, the dial aperture has been cut in the shape of a comma to better highlight the escapement, but here the aperture is a perfect circle. According to Frederique Constant, the reasoning behind the change was to hint at apertures used for tourbillons made by the highest end watchmakers. While I’m not sure if that’s quite the note Frederique Constant should be looking to hit, the circular aperture offers a clean, symmetrical appearance that the comma shaped window lacked.
The other notable update to be found in the Classics Heart Beat Manufacture is in the design of the typeface used for the Roman numerals at the dial’s perimeter. They are considerably thinner than the numerals used on previous Heart Beat models, and with the closed “X” design they have a somewhat more contemporary feel to them, as much as Roman numerals will allow for, anyway. The white dial has been given a lacquer finish and the handset is borrowed from the original version of this watch from 2004.
There are two versions of the new watch, differentiated only by their case material. Both the rose gold and steel cases measure 39mm in diameter and a hair over 10mm tall, and both run on the FC-930-3 automatic movement with 38 hours of power reserve. The rose gold version is limited to 93 pieces and carries a retail price of $17,995, while the steel version is limited to 930 pieces and will sell for $4,395. Frederique Constant