It’s rare these days to find a Swiss-made perpetual calendar watch — especially one with an in-house movement — for under $50,000. What would you say to one priced under $10,000? Frédérique Constant, a brand that has made its mark in the industry with its affordably priced complications, has pulled off this horological feat with its new Manufacture Perpetual Calendar, unveiled to the world at Baselworld 2016.
Frédérique Constant, which launched the first of its 19 in-house movements back in 2004 in the Heart Beat Manufacture watch, enlisted the services of its technical director, Pim Koeslag, and its R&D director, Manuel Da Silva Matos, to develop the automatic caliber FC-775 — which the brand calls “one of the most innovative yet easy to assemble perpetual calendar[s] ever produced — a process that required two years of work at Frederique Constant’s manufacture in the watchmaking hub of Plan-les-Ouates, near Geneva.
The movement measures just 6.7 mm thick, oscillates at a frequency of 28,800 vph, and consists of 191 parts, including 26 jewels. Carrying a power reserve of 38 hours, Caliber FC-775 is the result of a design and manufacturing process that used, according to the company, the “latest technology” available in horology to make “state of the art” and “very precise” parts. The finishing, executed with CNC machines, includes perlage and circular côtes de Genève on the bridges and plates.
The perpetual calendar functions powered by Caliber FC-775 are set and adjusted via inset buttons on the slim, 42-mm-diameter case of the Frederique Constant Manufacture Perpetual Calendar. The button near 5 o’clock advances the moon-phase display (at 6 o’clock on the dial), while another near 8 o’clock is used to set the date of the week. A button at 10 o’clock advances the day and date (indicated on subdials at 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock, respectively) simultaneously. When you adjust the perpetual calendar, you’ll need to set the date first, followed by the day. Finally, the button near 11 o’clock adjusts the month and the leap year (elegantly arranged on the subdial at 12 o’clock) at the same time.
The current time in hours and minutes is adjustable through the crown. Once adjusted, the watch — like all perpetual calendars, many of them with significantly higher pricetags — will take into account the months with 30 and 31 days, the 28 days of February, and also the leap-year cycle, adding a 29th day to February every four years. The watch, providing it is kept perpetually wound, would not need adjustments until March 1, 2100.
The Frederique Constant Manufacture Perpetual Calendar will be available in either a stainless steel or rose-gold-plated case, each with a convex sapphire crystal in front and a sapphire window in back, and mounted on a brown or black alligator strap. The rose-gold-plated versions are available with either a silvered or navy blue dial. The steel watch will be priced at $8,795 and the gold-plated models at $8,995.