REVIEW: Frédérique Constant Classics Manufacture Worldtimer
December 18, 2013
Frédérique Constant, which was founded by Peter and Aletta Stas in 1988, is a relative newcomer in the watch world, where it is not uncommon for a brand to be over 100 years old. But make no mistake, with 13 in-house calibers currently in production, and more coming, Frédérique Constant is as serious as any watch brand out there. At their manufacture in Plan-les-Ouates, which is just outside Geneva, they currently produce almost 130,000 Frederique Constant pieces per year, along with close to 10,000 pieces for their sports watch brand Alpina.
“On top of the well executed movement sits the other star of the show, the worldtime dial.”
The Frédérique Constant Classics Manufacture Worldtimer is a timepiece that has been designed and produced in-house and offers an incredible value when you compare it to what is available on the market. There is no other Swiss watch company making a worldtimer, equipped with an in-house caliber, for under four grand. The closest we can think of is a worldtimer from NOMOS Glashutte, which uses a pusher for adjusting the timezones, as opposed to a crown — but then again that costs almost $2,000 more, and is German made (which is not a bad thing, although there are distinctive aesthetic differences between German and Swiss timepieces). Baume & Mercier also produces a Swiss made worldtimer, however, it costs twice as much and does not have an in-house manufactured movement.
The Classics Manufacture Worldtimer is presented in a fully polished 3-part stainless steel case that measures just under 42 mm in diameter. It is 12.25 mm thick and 45.25 mm across including the crown. It is a traditional looking Swiss case reminiscent of other classic Genevan watch brands. Protecting the dial is a very slightly curved sapphire crystal and a flat sapphire on the case back. The steel crown has prominent ridges and is fully polished. It measures approximately 6.22 mm and in non-locking. It controls all functions: the hours, minutes, date and worldtime ring.
As we discussed above, Frédérique Constant makes a number of their own calibers, and this is one of them. Caliber FC-718 is a self-winding mechanical movement that runs at a rate of 4Hz, has 26 jewels and a 42-hour power reserve. It has been very nicely finished with perlage on the main plate and circular Côtes de Genève decoration on the main bridge. The oscillating weight is skeletonized and has a rose gold plated finish. Blued screws secure the rotor and main components in place. The balance wheel is the regulated type (as opposed to a free sprung balance wheel). Overall, this is a beautiful movement with a unique design that is a departure from many of the uniform calibers seen across the industry.
On top of the well-executed movement, sits the other star of the show, the worldtime dial. The details of the dial are quite intricate, from its luxurious silver finish to the embossed world map in the center, to the hand applied hour dot indexes — everything about this dial is world, class. The hour, minute and date hands have been blued and polished. Each of the hour dots is luminous. The outer chapter ring, controlled by the crown, rotates and displays the time in 24 cities, allowing the wearer to quickly determine the time anywhere in the world — including if it is day or night. At 6 o’clock is the subsidiary date dial. Pulling the crown out one stop allows you to control the date (turn clockwise) and the cities ring (counter-clockwise). The second stop controls the hours and minutes. The only thing I will say about the dial that I did not like and this is something that is true of most world time watches: it is a bit harder to read the time at a glance because there is so much information on the dial. With a worldtimer, it is pretty much an unavoidable fact, its ability to displaying 24 or more of the world’s timezones, inherently requires a somewhat busy dial.
The Frédérique Constant Manufacture Worldtimer Limited Edition comes on a navy alligator strap with off-white stitching, with a stainless steel pin buckle with a water-resistant inner lining. It measures 22 mm in width at the lugs. Water-resistance is 50 meters. Retail is $3,825. Limited edition of 1,888 pieces. Delivered in a wooden giftbox with limited edition plate.
The movement powering the Frédérique Constant Manufacture Worldtimer is impeccably designed, engineered and executed. The details and aesthetics of the dial are amazing. Quite simply, there is not a better value Swiss made worldtimer of this caliber available anywhere on the market today. (Ref. FC-718WM4H6)