Couture Time 2017 kicked off yesterday at the Wynn and Encore in Las Vegas, with a host of luxury watch brands showcasing their newest products to retailers and media that they may or may not have met with back in March during Baselworld. Among the exhibitors are the three brands of the so-called Frederique Constant Group — Alpina, Ateliers de Monaco, and the Frédérique Constant brand itself — each of whom unveiled at least one all-new product or collection that makes its debut in Vegas. Here’s a look at all three.
Alpina added a new steel-bracelet version of its Seastrong Diver 300 professional-grade divers’ watch. Like its predecessors, the new model, available with both a navy blue and a charcoal gray dial, has a large 44-mm case, bright luminous hour indexes that contrast strongly with the dial, and a unidirectional rotating 60-minute diving bezel, whose blue or gray color matches that of the watch’s dial.
The Seastrong Diver 300 is a descendant of a vintage Alpina sports watch from the 1960s, called the Seastrong “10,” a timepiece capable of reaching depths of 200 meters (660 feet), — a rarity at the time. This modern version is water-resistant to an even more impressive 300 meters, thanks in part to its secure screw-down crown and despite the presence of an exhibition caseback that shows off the automatic movement, Alpina Caliber AL-525, which powers the central hours, minutes and seconds as well as a date display at 3 o’clock. Both steel-bracelet versions of the Alpina Seastrong Diver 300 are priced at $1,395.
The newest Frederique Constant Runabout models feature hours, minutes, seconds, and date display, along with a new 24-hour GMT function. The three-part, polished stainless steel case measures 44 mm in diameter and includes a see-through caseback that allows a view of the watch’s movement, Caliber FC-350, with an in-house GMT module. The guilloché-decorated dial has applied, luminous hour indices and is offered in two variations: one is silver-colored dial with a blue GMT hand and a matching navy blue leather strap; the other in dark grey dial with a white GMT hand and light brown leather strap. Both are limited editions of 2,888 pieces, priced at $1,795 and presented in special wooden gift boxes that also include a detailed wooden Runabout boat miniature.
Frederique Constant also unveiled its Classic Quartz collection, a new series with Swiss quartz movements aimed at attracting a younger consumer with price points of $650 – $850.
Geneva-based boutique brand Ateliers deMonaco introduced a stainless steel version of its Admiral Chronographe Flyback model for the first time, but it’s not just any stainless steel. The 42-mm case is treated with treated with a special process called “Armure” — inspired by the armor of the “Chevalier en Armure” on the seal of the Principality of Monaco, where the brand was born — which enables the steel to be five times more scratch-resistant than regular steel.
The Armure treatment, Atelier deMonaco says, is not a coating per se, but rather a low-temperature carbon diffusion chemical process that hardens the steel’s surface. Standard steel is normally at 200 VHN (Vickers Hardness Number, a quantitative measure of the hardness of ore minerals). Steel subjected to the Armure treatment can measure up to 1,200 VHN, or five times more resistant.
The watch, whose full name is Admiral Chronographe Flyback Armure, contains the patented dMc-760 flyback chronograph movement, which has been developed, produced, and assembled in Ateliers deMonaco’s manufacture in Plan-les-Ouates, Switzerland. This movement winds the watch with a 22k-gold rotor and is engraved with the Principality of Monaco’s Coat of Arms.
The new stainless steel model is the latest and most accessibly priced in the Admiral Chronographe Flyback collection, which was launched in 2015 with four precious-metal-cased models, and added two new models with sapphire dials last year. A modified version of the model’s flyback chronograph movement is also used by Fredrique Constant in its recently introduced Flyback Chronograph Manufacture watch.