Introducing the Frederique Constant Slimline Moonphase Manufacture

Sometimes a design is so well done that it sets the bar for all other watches in its class. The Frederique Constant Slimline Moonphase was one such watch. Introduced in 2013 by the relatively young Swiss brand, it has since become the benchmark for moonphase dress watches coming in under $5,000, with the brand’s in-house automatic movement setting the bar high.

It would perhaps be forgivable for a brand to rest on its laurels and continue to churn out the same well-received watch, but Frederique Constant, who already have 24 in-house calibers to their name, felt the desire to update and improve a modern classic with the introduction of the new Slimline Moonphase Manufacture.The two most apparent differences between the original watch and its successor are the case size and the layout of the date and moonphase complications.

Previously, the watch featured a pointer date located in the same sub-dial as the six o’clock moonphase display. The redesigned FC702 caliber now separates the two with a pointer date register at nine o’clock and the moonphase display at three o’clock. There is no denying that the balance of the dial from left to right and the remaining size and position of empty space are very nicely done.

Another earlier iteration of the moonphase with the single sub-dial.

The possible downside of splitting the two registers is the resultant “AUTOMATIC” text that now appears in the lower half of the dial, presumably in large part to avoid an imbalance with too much negative space. A slight definition of the two sub-dials aids the symmetry as far as possible and is achieved by the date register being very slightly sunken into the dial, whereas the moonphase register features a very slim and highly polished perimeter.

Aside from moving the registers apart, the movement beating inside remains similar to the FC-705 caliber previously seen. Aesthetically, the FC-702 remains highly decorated with Côtes de Genève and perlage. In terms of functional performance, the moonphase and date are both set through the crown rather than any pushers set into the case. The automatically wound caliber beats at 28,800 bph and generates a power reserve of 42 hours.

The other most noticeable difference is the size of the watch. The 42mm diameter of the first iteration was regarded by many as being too large for the style, and my wrist probably wouldn’t disagree. So a reduction in case diameter to just under 39mm is likely to be very welcome.

The two dial colors chosen for this model represent a more classic design choice to accompany the smaller case size. A silver dial offers pleasing vintage appeal, especially when coupled with the polished stainless steel case and matching hand-polished indices and hands. Small minute markers are included between the applied hour indices. The other option is a black dial which pairs very well with the warmth of a rose-gold plated case. A third variant features a plated case with a silver dial. The dial itself curves gently downward toward the perimeter, and this includes the seating of the hand-applied indices. The flow of the dial is continued by the soft, rounded edges of the top-portion of the three-part case. The fairly short and polished lugs extend from the middle section of the case and they echo the curvature of the rounded bezel above. For those of us with smaller wrists, the size and comfort of the watch should be much better than its predecessor. The vintage styling of the watch is further enhanced by the large and deeply furrowed onion crown.

The timepiece is presented on an alligator strap and retails for $2,895 in stainless steel and $3,195 for the rose-gold plated models. The Frederique Constant Slimline Moonphase Manufacture looks once again to be a class leader offering a beautiful, refined, and vintage-inspired moonphase watch with an in-house heart. There can’t be too many other watches out there that can offer quite as much for under $3,000. Frederique Constant

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Brad stumbled into the watch world in 2011 and has been falling down the rabbit hole ever since. Based in London, Brad's interests lie in anything that ticks, sweeps or hums and is slightly off the beaten track.