Frédérique Constant Introduces Flyback Chronograph Manufacture

Frédérique Constant — which gave the watch world its first perpetual calendar priced under $10,000 last year — adds another affordable high complication to its stable at Baselworld 2017 with the launch of the Frédérique Constant Flyback Chronograph Manufacture.

Frederique Constant Flyback Chronograph Manufacture - steel, black dial
Frédérique Constant Flyback Chronograph Manufacture, stainless steel, dark gray dial (Ref. FC-760DG4H6)

The watch contains an all-new in-house movement, Caliber FC-760, whose flyback chronograph complication is inspired by models from the 1930s. The column wheel that governs the chronograph’s start, stop, and reset functions rotates on bearings; unlike conventional column wheels, which have several columns, this one is star-shaped. Working in unison with with the operating lever, which is controlled by the start/stop push-piece, this star-shaped wheel is responsible for the mechanism’s exceptionally smooth operation.

Frederique Constant Flyback_Chronograph Manufacture - steel - white dial - flat
Frédérique Constant Flyback Chronograph Manufacture, stainless steel, silvered dial (Ref. FC-760MC4H6)

Frédérique Constant’s expert team of watchmakers and designers engaged in a long process of drawing, designing, and prototyping on the way to creating the final timepiece, struggling with the necessary geometry, forces, and meticulous adjustments required in developing one of the most difficult horological complications, the flyback. The result, the self-winding Caliber FC-760, has a modular construction and is comprised of 233 components, only 96 of which are dedicated to the flyback module. The rotor swings in both directions to amass a 38-hour power reserve. The number of parts used for the flyback mechanism, which is smaller than the norm, does not imply loss of quality. On the contrary, releasing the chronograph push-piece above the crown demonstrates how thoroughly the functional relationships have been thought through. The smooth pressing action of the start, stop, and reset operations offers just enough resistance to protect against errors of manipulation.

Frederique Constant Flyback_Chronograph Manufacture Caliber
Frédérique Constant manufacture Caliber FC-760

The other notable chronograph component is the clutch, whose function is to establish the connection between the movement, or power source, and the gearing, or under-dial work, when required. Most chronographs use one of three different types: the classic horizontal wheel coupling, the traditional oscillating pinion, or the modern, vertical friction clutch. Caliber FC-760 employs a new type of swiveling component with two toothed pinions. When the button is pressed, it connects the two “stories” together. At the lower level, in the watch movement proper, it takes up the rotation of the center seconds and conveys this, via the corresponding upper component, to the actuating mechanism to turn the chronograph hands. At the same time, the lower central seconds also drives the seconds hand at 9 o’clock, which turns continuously in unison. The rotations of the chronograph hand are “recorded” by the 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock.

Repeating pressing of the start/stop push-piece causes the clutch lever to pivot slightly. As the chronograph stops, a small locking lever ensures that the two stopped hands pause exactly at the last position chosen, offering ideal legibility. The user can repeat this stopping operation, via the upper push-piece, as often as needed; the chronograph will not be reset to zero until the lower push-piece is pressed.

Frederique Constant Flyback Chrono - RG - black dial - reclining
Above and below: Frédérique Constant Flyback Chronograph Manufacture, rose-gold-plated steel, dark gray dial (Ref.  FC-760DG4H4)

Frederique Constant Flyback Chrono - RG - black dial - CU

The user need only press the push-piece at 4 o’clock just once to start the timer again from zero. This push-piece and its associated mechanism are essentially performing three tasks in rapid succession, one after the other, for an instant flyback of the chronograph hand: first, disengaging the clutch; second, resetting the chronograph to zero by means of the single-piece hammer, whose sloping surfaces turn the two zero-reset hearts so that the hands may reposition themselves vertically; and third, re-engaging the clutch as soon as the push-piece is released. This highly complex sequence of movements proceeds directly from the push-piece to the clutch lever. The flyback module, which is attached to the base movement, Caliber FC-710, in a configuration designed to conserve energy between the mechanisms, is produced in-house by Frédérique Constant.

Frederique Constant Flyback Chronograph Manufacture - WG - white dial
Frédérique Constant Flyback Chronograph Manufacture, rose-gold-plated steel, silvered dial (Ref. FC-760V4H4)

The Frédérique Constant Flyback Chronograph Manufacture makes its debut in two main versions, one more sporty and casual with a silver or dark gray smooth dial; the other more classical-looking, with a silver dial graced with “Clou de Paris” guilloché decoration, printed black Roman numerals and Breguet-style hands. Both versions are available in 42-mm-diameter cases in either stainless steel or rose-gold-plated stainless steel. The tricompax dial features subdials at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock for the 30-minute chronograph counter, hand-type date display, and small seconds indicator, respectively. A tachymeter scale — useful for timing events like races in conjunction with the flyback chronograph — appears on the dial’s outer edge. The FC-760 movement, visible through a clear caseback, oscillates at 28,800 vph and is decorated with perlage and côtes de Genève. 

As per its custom,Frédérique Constant has also made its version of this high-end horological complication quite attainable from a pricing perspective: it will retail for just $3,995 in stainless steel and $4,295 in rose-gold-plated steel.



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