Perhaps, one of the most interesting and surprising releases this year at Baselworld 2016 and one that we were completely not expecting. Frederique Constant surprised everyone with what could quickly become the most popular in-house Perpetual Calendar considering its 'budget friendly' price tag. The new Frederique Constant Manufacture Perpetual Calendar was designed using classical watchmaking principles and entirely created to deliver on robustness, and reliability with an easy-to-adjust mechanism. The new in-house movement encased in this watch, was entirely created by Manuel Da Silva Matos —R&D director at FC— and by Pim Koeslag—technical director of Frederique Constant—, after two years of research and development. The Frederique Constant Manufacture Perpetual Calendar is one of the most innovative yet easy to assemble perpetual calendar watches ever produced. This new watch is not only very nice looking in the metal but it also feels like a more expensive watch.
The new Frederique Constant Manufacture Perpetual Calendar fitted with a pebble-shaped case measuring 42 mm in diameter and available in stainless steel, rose gold plating and also in a limited edition in 18K solid rose gold with midnight blue dial.
The highly polished case features correctors on both sides of the caseband that are used to easily adjust the calendar mechanism. One button near 5 o’clock advances the moonphase, another near 8 o’clock is used for the day of the week and one at 10 o’clock advances the day and date simultaneously. To adjust this new Frederique Constant Perpetual Calendar properly, you need to first set the date and then the day of the week. To finish, the button near 11o’clock displays the month and the leap year at the same time. Perhaps, the only downside, is that the correctors should've been more recessed against the case to have a more seamless flushed appearance, but other than that, this watch is pure elegance considering the price tag. Additionally, the pearl-shaped winding crown has been knurled for easy grip and proper adjustment.
The clean uncluttered silvered dial —or midnight blue— is very classic and easy to read. The dial features a month and leap year indicator at 12, a date indicator at 3, moon phase at 6 and day of the week at 9 o'clock. The dial is further enhanced by needle-shaped hands for the hours and minutes and with contrasting black hands for the perpetual calendar indications. Normally this watch shouldn't require any manual correction before 400 years, but as there is an exception in the Gregorian Calendar, the watch will need to be adjusted on March 1st 2100, which would have been be a leap year.
Produced and assembled by the Frederique Constant watchmakers at their Plan-les-Ouates ateliers, the Manufacture Perpetual Calendar beats thanks to the new in-house FC-775 automatic calibre, which drives the hour and minute hands along with the perpetual calendar. The new Frederique Constant FC-775 automatic calibre composed of 191 parts —all produced in-house— is just 6,7mm thick, beats at a frequency of 28,8000 vph and is equipped with 26 jewels to provide a power reserve of 38 hours when fully wound. Turning the watch around reveals the beauty of the movement that has been finished with cicular Côtes de Genève, perlage and a rose gold oscillating weight. The finish is really well done and more in line with more expensive perpetual calendars we've reviewed.
For this particular watch, Frederique Constant decided to go with genuine alligator straps opposed to the traditional CalfCroc —alligator embossed looking calf strap— strap that they typically use to keep their prices down. On the wrist, the watch wears true to its size and extremely elegantly. This is for sure a watch that knocked our socks off as soon as we heard about its release and even more so when we were able to work on this hands-on review. This watch is definitely a must have for those looking to own one of the purest complications of all horological complications without having to break the bank. This is a watch that ticks all the boxes when it comes to 'budget friendly' in-house perpetual calendars.
Sticker Price $8,795 USD in stainless steel, $8,995 USD rose gold-plated and $15,900 USD for 18K solid gold offered in a limited edition. For more info on Frederique Constant click here.