A Closer Look At The New Frederique Constant Classic Tourbillon Manufacture In Steel
On the heels of Frederique Constant’s recently released tourbillon in rose gold come two new limited editions featuring the same complication, this time in steel. Further democratizing what is normally a high-end complication is nothing new for Frederique Constant, and these two pieces may be more compelling than their predecessor.
As enthusiasts, we tend to define watch styles largely by the complications or functions associated with them. Dive watches have rotating bezels, pilot’s watches might have a slide rule or GMT complication, and chronographs provide elapsed time with definitive accuracy. When we think of these types of tool watches, we tend to look for robustness in the case material. Stainless steel and titanium are the most common tool-watch mediums. Other complications often lend themselves better to more elegantly styled dress watches. World timers, perpetual calendars, and tourbillons tend to be the complications we associate with dress watches if they have one. While many dress watches are rendered in steel, many others feature a precious metal case, especially when housing a high-end complication.
The peoples’ champion
Frederique Constant has carved out a niche as one of the few manufactures who will place a high-end complication in a more widely attainable watch. As previously detailed in this article, the 35th-anniversary Classic Tourbillon Manufacture offers exceptional value and excellent design in a compelling value proposition. However, by changing the case metal, Frederique Constant has truly made the tourbillon more accessible than it has ever been.
These additions to the Classics collection feature the same 39mm case as the rose gold edition but rendered in steel. This 11mm-thick case offers a 5ATM water resistance rating, which is more than enough for a watch of this type. Changing the case to steel makes this watch more formal in some ways. The cool tones of the metal differ significantly from the warmer rose gold. Furthermore, the blue strap offered on both dial options is slightly more versatile than the brown. While the design is classic enough to dress the watch up or down, the steel case might look even more at home in a more formal setting.
A balanced approach
The choice of silver and blue dials with a sunray finish keeps with the design aesthetic of the original Classic Tourbillon Manufacture. The minimalist dial furniture is diamond cut and applied by hand. Both dials are finished appropriately given the highlighted complication but not in such a way that steals the spotlight. The addition of a tourbillon to a stainless steel dress watch combines both ends of the horological spectrum. This is quite a balancing act that Frederique Constant has managed to pull off.
Continuing to leverage the FC-980 movement ensures the same accuracy and resistance to magnetism as the rose gold model. Originally developed 15 years ago, the caliber is equipped with a silicon escapement wheel and anchor. Accuracy was the original intent of the tourbillon when it debuted over 220 years ago. The inclusion of silicon parts helps the complication live up to its original purpose. The movement is visible through a sapphire window on the case back and features the same beveling, beading, and mirror polishing as on the rose gold model.
These two additional models to the Classics line speak to the space in the horological world that Frederique Constant has created for itself. The humbler steel dress watch fitted with a tourbillon continues to add to the list of complications made more affordably by the brand. While the rose gold version remains an excellent value, the steel model is very compelling at €14,495. Similar to its approach with the perpetual calendar, Frederique Constant continues to bring high horology into a price range that affords a wider audience.
The use of steel as the case material allows for a more Everyman approach to this watch. While the dress style is decidedly buttoned up, a strap change to non-alligator leather would allow for more casual wear. Dare I say, even a fabric or nylon strap (two-piece, of course) could appeal during the warmer months. That’s one sentence that was unlikely to be written previously — a tourbillon on nylon!
Now, despite the appeal, this watch cannot be for everyone. Each dial option is limited to 350 pieces. While not as few as the rose gold model (150 pieces), it is not so many that there can be a tourbillon on every wrist. Nevertheless, continuing to allow more collectors access to these complications is noteworthy. If Frederique Constant can continue to forge this path, it will be an exciting next 35 years.