Have you ever enjoyed an espresso in Italy? The best way to enjoy the intense coffee taste of a real Italian espresso is standing at the bar. It’s a scorching hot shot of what tastes and feels like pure caffeine that gets you going instantly. No need to sit down and linger on it; save that for the cappuccino on a terrazza in the shade later that morning. I was in Milano last week for the announcement of the collaboration between Frederique Constant and French DJ/producer The Avener and the introduction of the Highlife Chronograph Automatic. Before the Frederique Constant × The Avener party kicked off, I had to give myself a quick boost with an espresso, as you can see. Maybe you need one too to get the party — sorry, workweek — started.

Frederique Constant is trying to shed its image as a traditional and classic brand and trade it for a more contemporary one. The (re)introduction of the sporty and trendy Highlife collection in 2020 was the start of that. And now, with the brand having announced French deep house and electro music DJ/producer The Avener as a brand ambassador, phase two kicks in. And what better way to reach a large group of (potential) watch fans than by introducing a chronograph? The charismatic complication is the most popular one out there. So, please welcome to the stage the vibrant, urban, and modern Highlife Chronograph Automatic on the wrist of The Avener!

Frederique Constant × The Avener

Why are Frederique Constant and The Avener a perfect mix? I will spare you the long story, but what was interesting is that The Avener — real name Tristan Casara (35) — reaches billions of people with his music and plays his deep house sets all over the world. And what is even more interesting is that before he met up with Frederique Constant’s managing director Niels Eggerding, he had already heard of the watch manufacturer, but he rang up his best friend who knows a thing or two about watches to ask him what the brand was all about.

“I fully trust my friend, so when he said that Frederique Constant and the watches in the Highlife collection, in particular, are a match with who I am and what I do, I went into the meeting with confidence,” Casara explains in Milan where the collaboration is being presented and celebrated in style.

Frederique Constant × The Avener

The Frederique Constant Highlife Chronograph Automatic on stage

The new Highlife Chronograph Automatic comes in three versions. There are two steel models, including a limited edition of 1888 pieces and a bicolor version showing steel and rose gold-plated accents. The Avener was wearing the limited-edition steel version with a white and blue panda dial. On the dial with a subtle Highlife globe, you will find the small seconds at 9 o’clock, a 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock, and a 12-hour counter at 6 o’clock. The date — a useful feature for some and superfluous for others — is neatly tucked away between 4 and 5 o’clock, Zenith El Primero-style indeed.

Frederique Constant × The Avener

The automatic caliber FC-391 that makes the different functions possible is visible through the see-through case back. This is not an in-house movement, but a La Joux-Perret-improved Valjoux 7750. Gone is the cam-lever system, and its place, instead you get a more high-end column wheel. You also get an extended power reserve of 60 hours and a rose-gold-plated rotor to top it off.

Frederique Constant × The Avener

Limited and unlimited prices

The watch looks the business on the steel three-link bracelet with polished and satin-finished surfaces. It looks chic on the nubuck leather strap but also sporty and casual on the rubber strap that comes with the €3,295 chronograph. For your information, the unlimited version with a black dial that comes on a steel bracelet and an extra black rubber strap has a price of €2,995. The two-tone version that comes with an extra brown rubber strap has a price of €3,295.

Poolside partying with The Avener and the Highlife Chronograph Automatic

The eye-catcher is the individually numbered limited-edition steel version with a white dial and blue sub-dials and flange. This is the one that The Avener — a classically trained musician who, after thinking long and hard, answered that Franz Liszt is his favorite composer — wore during the interview and at the poolside presentation party where he played a set. The impromptu encore set in the wee hours of the morning was a nice surprise. It clearly showed that the DJ was in his element, both with the setting at the rooftop pool, but also with the brand and the watch. It saw him waving the watch in the air, and he waved it like he just didn’t care.

And just a heads-up: in the coming Sunday Morning Showdown, the new Highlife Chronograph Automatic will take on the Tissot PRX Chronograph. That promises to be an intense and interesting confrontation. For now, have a look at all three new Highlife Chronograph Automatic models on Frederique Constant’s official website.

Under the spell of the Louis Moinet Super Moon Limited Edition

I have a soft spot for both the brand Louis Moinet and its owner Jean-Marie Schaller. That became very obvious in the raving hands-on review of the Memoris Spirit. I was also quite smitten by the brand’s completely bonkers but equally genius Space Revolution. That explains why I want to introduce to you the Louis Moinet Super Moon over a cup of coffee.

To understand the watch, it’s good to understand what a supermoon actually is. Well, a supermoon is a full or new moon that occurs when the orbit of this satellite is closest to Earth. It’s not a common thing. A close encounter between the Moon and Earth took place on November 14th, 2016. On that date, the Moon was 356,511 kilometers from the center of the Earth. That was the closest a supermoon had come to us since 1948. The next close encounter won’t happen until 2034.

Look at the moon in 1968

With twelve years to go until the next Super Moon, the only alternative to enjoy this astronomical phenomenon is to wear the Louis Moinet Super Moon Limited Edition. The dial of the 45.5mm steel watch — limited to 100 pieces — depicts the first extra-terrestrial view of the Moon as provided by Apollo 8 in 1968. A highlight is the hand-crafted engraving of the lunar surface. It shows tiny craters and light and dark tones, the result of brushing the dial after first nickel-plating it. It’s that process that creates an artistic yet realistic lunar surface.

From the Moon to the desert and into the watch

Through the opening on the dial between 8 and 12 o’clock, you can see the highly decorated 4Hz automatic movement at work. But it’s really all about extra-terrestrial beauty in this watch, like the exclusive fragments of the Moon in a special capsule at 3 o’clock. Moon fragments are rare, first and foremost, because they’re from a place that we haven’t been in a while, obviously. But also because just 371 lunar meteorites are known to exist worldwide. Inside the Louis Moinet Super Moon, there is a small piece from a meteorite. And that rock traveled more than 400,000 kilometers through intersidereal space before crashing down in the Dhofar Desert in Oman.

This watch is a storyteller par excellence. Bring this creation — this very exclusive creation — to any party, bar, water cooler, and or coffee corner, and you and your Louis Moinet Super Moon Limited Edition will have everybody’s unwavering attention. Want to know how to get a talking piece like this and how much it will set you back? Check out more information on the price and the availability on the official Louis Moinet website.

Zenith uses upcycled high-tech fabrics from LVMH fashion Maisons

Sometimes it’s good to be part of a strong group. In the wild, for sure, but also in the wild world of watchmaking. Zenith is part of LVMH Moët Hennessy-Louis Vuitton, the number-one luxury group. In 2020, LVMH made $33 billion in luxury sales, according to accounting firm Deloitte.

During the 2022 edition of VIVA TECH, Europe’s most prominent event for startups and tech, Zenith introduced a capsule collection of straps for the Chronomaster line. This range of straps was created by using upcycled high-tech fabrics from different LVMH fashion Maisons. You see? Sometimes it’s good to be in a strong, and in this case, diverse group. It opens new worlds and leads to new perspectives and products. And it’s sustainable too, which is an extra bonus.

Conscious, but also fashionable and lavish at the same time

To create the eco-friendly straps, Zenith partnered up with Nona Source, a startup incubated by LVMH’s DARE (Disrupt, Act & Risk to be an Entrepreneur) program. Nona Source is the first online resale platform that re-values unused fabrics from the most exclusive luxury fashion Maisons. The start-up gives the fabrics a second life by allowing creators to easily shop these materials and reuse existing resources. The concept falls within Zenith’s HORIZON initiative to offset its impact on the environment by developing ecologically-conscious products. So Zenith did some shopping at Nona Source. In addition to coming up with lavish straps for the Defy Midnight women’s watch line, Zenith also created three interesting straps for the Chronomaster Sport collection, which I’m going to show you now.

Not available online, only at physical boutiques

There’s the “Deep Dive” strap for the boutique edition of the Chronomaster Sport. It’s made of a water-repellent blue textile that connects to the signature blue of the Zenith tricolor dial — a great look that I already promoted with a third-party strap in a recent video. The “Rifle Green” is a strap made of a light cotton-linen-blend fabric. And the “Pale Marigold” strap in a shimmery gold cotton blend adds an urban and edgy look. The new straps are compatible with all the references in the Chronomaster Sport and Chronomaster Open collections. If you want one or all three, you have to find a Zenith boutique because these straps won’t be sold online. No word on pricing yet, but I’m sure the staff at your nearest Zenith boutique can help you with that.

That’s it for now. Have a great Monday and talk watches whenever you can! I will try to find some nice stuff for next week’s Coffee Corner Watch Talk.

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