New Heights: Frederique Constant Re-Introduces the Highlife Collection


Twenty years ago, Frederique Constant introduced its original Highlife collection, which featured an integrated strap built into a distinctive case. Now the Geneva-based brand introduces a modern update to the collection, applying the concept to three new models: the Highlife Perpetual Calendar Manufacture, Highlife Heart Beat, and Highlife Automatic COSC. Each model features a strap-and-bracelet system that allows the wearer to alternate between steel, leather, crococalf suede, and rubber, allowing the wearer to change from a sporty daytime to a classic evening look in, dare we say, a heartbeat.

The Frederique Constant Highlife Heart Beat reference with heartbeat aperture at 12 o’clock.

The original Highlife collection began with Frederique Constant’s Triple Time series and was eventually supplemented with a tourbillon model and the first models with the brand’s now-emblematic “heartbeat” dial aperture displaying the balance. Eventually it expanded to include a reference with a perpetual calendar, a chronograph, a manufacture movement, and a series of timepieces for women.

The original Highlife timepiece with heartbeat aperture from 1999

In the new Highlife collection, all three models measure 41 mm in diameter and, staying true to the brand’s DNA, employ the original, integrated, interchangeable bracelet (as pictured above). For the 2020 collection, however, Frederique Constant has removed the lugs that were on the original case; this allows for greater flexibility when changing straps, and ensures a comfortable fit on the wrist. The integrated system is activated when the wearer pushes down on the two push pins, at the bottom of the bracelet or strap, to disconnect it from the watch case.

The original Highlife reference featured lugs on its case.

The new Highlife models come presented on either a leather strap or a steel bracelet, with an additional strap in rubber. Other options from a trio of crococalf suede straps, in brown, blue, or black, can be purchased separately. In a departure from the original models, each modern Highlife dial is decorated with the brand’s globe motif – a symbol that Frederique Constant says symbolizes the Earth as well as “encompasses the brand’s ideal for sustainable living on Earth.” Protecting the dial are sapphire crystals with anti-reflective coating on both sides.

The interchangeable strap function is activated by two buttons at the bottom end of the strap.

Starting at the high end, the Highlife Perpetual Calendar Manufacture features the company’s in-house-made FC-775 caliber, which famously debuted in the brand’s first perpetual calendar in 2016. The self-winding mechanical movement beats at a frequency of 28,800 vph and holds a power-reserve of 38 hours. Through the sapphire crystal caseback, the movement, decorated in perlage and côtes de Genève, is visible. The dial’s calendar functions are displayed across three counters: day at 9 o’clock, month and leap year at 12, date at 3, and moon-phase at 6. In the cases’ middle is the moon phase controllers and crown function for easy adjustment. The arrow-shaped hour and minute hands are rose gold-plated; as well as the hour index, which is glazed in a white-colored luminous material.

Three style variations are available. One is a two-tone model that combines steel with rose-gold plating on the bezel, crown, hour and minute hands, and bracelet. It comes on a textured black rubber strap with a rose gold-plated buckle. The other two are in all-steel cases, one with a blue dial with silver-colored hands and hour indices, mounted on a steel bracelet, the other with a silvered dial and mounted on a black leather strap.

Highlife Perpetual Calendar Manufacture Ref. FC-775V4NH2B

The pricing for the Highlife Perpetual Calendar ranges from $9,095 for the steel-on-leather version, to $9,295 for steel on a bracelet, to $9,495 for two-tone steel-and-gold on a bracelet.

Highlife Heart Beat Ref. FC-310V4NH4

Frederique Constant’s new Heart Beat references follow a design that was introduced over 25 years ago. Frederique Constant’s first Heart Beat watch became a cult classic among collectors when it hit the market in 1994, recognized for its design that reveals the inner workings of its movement through a dial aperture at 12 o’clock. According to the brand, the story behind the balance wheel being visible through its dial originated from “youthful inexperience:” Frederique Constant was still a fairly new brand at the time, looking to expand its series, when it introduced the Heartbeat design, and since it was never patented, many other watchmakers have since introduced their own versions of the dial-side aperture.

Highlife Heart Beat Ref. FC-310N4NH6B

The refreshed collection is now available in three dial options, all featuring the iconic aperture at 12 o’clock and three hands treated with luminous material. The first reference comes with a white dial in a rose gold-plated case, mounted on brown leather or rubber; a blue-dialed version is presented on either a steel bracelet or a blue rubber strap; the third model’s dial is black and fitted into a steel case, with a matching bracelet or black-colored rubber strap. Beating inside is the automatic Caliber FC-310, with a power-reserve of 38 hours, a frequency of 28,800-vph, and 26 jewels.

Highlife Heart Beat Ref. FC-310B4NH6B

The Highlife Heart Beat series retails for $1,995 in steel on a bracelet and $2,195 for gold-plated steel on a brown leather strap.

Powering Frederique Constant’s Highlife Automatic COSC models is the COSC-certified automatic Caliber FC-303. This sub-family also draws inspiration from a 1999 model, which met the precision criteria of the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC). The Highlife Automatic COSC is sort of a hybrid reference, using the three hands of the Heart Beat and the date function of the Perpetual Calendar. A two-tone model is available, with either a blue or white dial, on a black leather strap; a version in a rose-gold-plated case with a black dial is offered on a brown leather or rubber strap. The COSC-certified caliber offers a frequency of 28,800 vph, 38-hours of power, and 26 jewels. The 41-mm case is water-resistant up to 50 meters (5 ATM), with a transparent sapphire caseback.

This Highlife Automatic COSC starts at $1,895 for a steel case on a strap. The steel case on a bracelet retails for $1,995, the gold-plated on strap for $2,095, and the gold-and-steel on bracelet for $2,195.

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