Depending on exactly where you entered the value oriented watch space, it’s easy to think of Frederique Constant as a brand that essentially mimics a style that’s very traditional, maybe even a little stodgy. When I think of Frederique Constant, dress watches with Roman numerals come to mind, frequently presented in gold plated cases, recalling mid-century watches by the brands that their carefully chosen brand name intentionally evokes. But, as is the case with most brands, they’re more than any one thing. The Highlife collection, a series of watches in sporty cases rooted in design tropes of the 70s, has a playful but stylish energy to it. And of course Frederique Constant’s calling card in recent years is their ability to create complications that were once exclusive at an affordable price point. So, here we have a new variant of their wonderful perpetual calendar, still priced under $10,000, even in this period of wild inflation, in a Highlife case.
This isn’t the first time Frederique Constant has used the Highlife as a vehicle for their premier complication – we covered the blue and white dials here back in 2020. The new dial is what Frederique Constant is calling “blue-grey.” In these photos, to us, it looks mostly just grey, but that’s completely fine. The dial color actually nicely complements the bright blue seen in the moonphase window at 6:00, and it’s also coherent with the stainless steel case, which still features alternating brushed and polished elements. This dial is perhaps a bit more sober than the previous versions, which makes sense for a watch with a complication that is literally made to be worn everyday.
To back up a bit, a perpetual calendar, for the uninitiated, is a high complication that displays the month, day of the week, date, and leap year, and doesn’t need to be corrected for that extra day in February every four years. It’s a pretty impressive mechanical feat to make a watch that can think ahead like that. Do you know off hand, right now, when the next leap year is? I confess that I do not, but a properly set perpetual calendar will have this information available to you at a glance, and flip right over from February 29 to March 1 like it’s nothing (folks, it’s definitely not nothing).
The Highlife case is 41mm in diameter and measures just 12.65mm tall. The FC-775 can be seen through the display caseback, and the watch can be worn on either its matching stainless steel bracelet or an included blue rubber strap (the Highlife collection watches use a quick change system to switch between the bracelet and strap without the use of a tool).
Impressively, the Highlife Perpetual Calendar Manufacture still carries a retail prince under $10,000. Back in 2020, the first versions of these watches sold for $9,495 on the bracelet. Today, with the additional rubber strap, Frederique Constant is asking $9,950. How Frederique Constant is able to lock in that price in a watch environment where everything seems to be going to the moon is a mystery to me, but it really does present a value (still) unlike any other perpetual on the market.
The new blue-gray variant of the Highlife Perpetual will be available in June. Frederique Constant