Borrowed Time: Frederique Constant Classic Worldtimer Manufacture in Green

Blame it on the jackets at The Masters, the omnipresence of Marvel movies featuring The Hulk, or simply a prolonged fondness for St. Patrick’s Day, but it’s time to admit that the color green has become more than just a trend in the watch industry; it’s here to stay. Like its cyan-sibling blue, the emerald hue has evolved from its previous novelty-status and into something that watch brands have realized has greater wrist presence than previously thought.

This year, one of the highlights from Frederique Constant, alongside a line of watches inspired by vintage race cars and a watch that blends horology with technology, is an update to the brand’s Classic Worldtime Manufacture in green.

Frederique Constant’s worldtimer has for a long time been one of the worst-kept secrets in watchmaking. Its legibility and overall ease of use have made it one of the best examples of the brand’s longtime commitment to accessible luxury. Originally released back in 2012, the first worldtimer was a limited edition in white-silver with blue accents. There were two dial configurations available at that time. One with the world map aesthetic you see today and one with a stamped guilloché motif running around the dial and in the center of its middle subdial. This dark green update is symbolic of not only the proliferation of the green style but of how Frederique Constant carefully chooses to build out its lines of timepieces.

Since that initial release of 1,888 pieces, the dial layout has retained the same globe-facing appearance that has been popularized by many Swiss brands including Patek Philippe. We’ve seen periodic updates to the color scheme with a navy blue option in 2015 and a light brown option in 2017, but this is the first venture into a non-traditional color scheme. I had the opportunity to wear both of the previous models over the past few years and have always been struck by how upscale they felt compared to their price.

The movement inside the watch is the FC-718 Manufacture caliber, one of the brand’s in-house movements specifically built for the worldtimer. It offers a 42-hour power reserve and features perlage & circular Côtes de Genève decoration that is viewable through the exhibition caseback. The three-part stainless steel case is highly polished and, at 42 mm, feels surprisingly compact on the wrist. A convex sapphire crystal connects outwards from the case and wraps over the dial.

Let’s talk about the major difference on the model compared to previous Frederique Constant worldtimers: that green dial. At Baselworld this year, I had my first opportunity to wear the watch around for a few days of the fair. During that time, I was interviewing an executive for a different Swiss brand when he stopped to ask what I was wearing. I, of course, handed the watch to him so he could take a closer look. Over the next few minutes, this executive showed the watch to a few of his colleagues that were in the room and kept repeating: “This is the color green we need to be using.”

Now, I was sworn to secrecy by that brand so I can’t reveal the identity of the executive but it’s a good example of how rich this green is. The world map in the center is slightly raised, causing light to dance around the attractive green dial. The applied indexes on the outside of this inner dial are filled with plots of lume. At six o’clock, the date wheel features a wavy detailing that extends outwards.

One of the many positives of the Frederique Constant Classic Worldtimer Manufacture is that you can tell what the time is on any of the cities on the ring, meaning that it’s a true worldtimer and not just a GMT with a cities disk. Not only is the watch an authentic worldtimer, it also features a date wheel and a day/night indicator. This 24 hour marker running between city disk and the indexes illustrates how easy it is to tell the time in any of the 24 time zones on the outside wheel. All you have to do is make sure your local time is set at 12 o’clock and that it matches up with the correct hour on the 24-hour disc. So if it’s 2:00 PM, the 24-hour disc should have “14” set at 12 o’clock. You can then count forward or back an hour for each time zone.

All of this is set through the vintage onion style crown that is a favorite of Frederique Constant. It’s not uncommon to see worldtimers with a pusher above the crown that you press in to change the city disc one click at a time. However, with the FC-718 Manufacture movement, Frederique Constant has simplified the process making the time, worldtime, and date all settable via the crown. There are three setting positions, the first lets you wind the watch, the second allows you to set the date and city disc by alternating between turning the crown upwards and downwards, and the third enables you to set the time.

Sometimes the best update is the simplest one. By keeping everything other than the color scheme the same, Frederique Constant is able to endear itself to new and old customers at the same time. The price, at $4,195, stays the same too.

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  1. I wanted one in Brown the moment it was announced. I recently acquired it and, while I must agree it is a well made timepiece, I have a few nits to pick. First, the size of the print/letters/numbers is very, very small; making the face difficult to read even with reading glasses; impossible without them or in low light (like a restaurant). Second, the dial is very busy to the point of making it harder than it should be to just read the actual time. Third, the case appears quite dainty and the rose color used for the Brown watch adds to a feminine look. After wearing steel sports watches it takes a bit of getting used to. No doubt it’s an interesting watch to look at, well made and complex, but, knowing what I know now, I can’t say I would buy it again.

  2. Randy J. Schibret

    A very nice watch. I am a fan of skeleton style watches and GMT watches. This is even better. Nice price for what you get. Not a great fan of green though. Thanks for the write up.

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