Frederique Constant Classic Worldtimer Manufacture – Dark Grey Dials

The Frederique Constant Classic Worldtimer Manufacture upholds the Maison’s reputation for democratising watch ownership. This model is equipped with a manufacture movement, yet is offered for less than £4,000. Steve Ashby takes a look at two new limited edition versions of this elegant timepiece, each sporting a dark grey dial.

Image – credit Eric Rossier 

Up until last year, I never had any qualms about splashing out on something new simply because I liked it. Practical considerations about whether I could afford something or whether I really needed it never entered my mind. However, I must concede this was a source of annoyance to my fiancée.

In October 2018, with the arrival of my daughter, everything changed. I was a father with responsibilities. Now, I look to my daughter’s mother for a nod of approval prior to making any significant purchase. Moreover, said purchase has to represent value for money.

Frederique Constant Classic Worldtimer Manufacture

Image – credit Eric Rossier 

My new-found obsession with value may be one reason why I am attracted to watches made by the Genevan watch brand, Frederique Constant. Over the years, this firm has successfully produced classically styled, elegant watches equipped with Manufacture movements. Furthermore, the luxury marque has become synonymous with offering incredible value.

Value and virtue – a winning formula

Recently, I got hands-on with a steel example of the brand’s perpetual calendar tourbillon and admired its gorgeous dial and attractive movement. This watch, despite its impressive execution and the combination of two high-complications, is available for less than £20,000. While this is not an inconsequential amount, some of haute horlogerie’s old guard would demand a six-figure sum for a similarly equipped watch. For more information on this watch, please see ESCAPEMENT’s in-depth review.

Frederique Constant Classic Worldtimer Manufacture

Image – credit Eric Rossier 

The combination of value and virtue has seen Frederique Constant, a comparatively young firm, founded in 1988, enjoy amazing commercial success. The company now belongs to the Japanese firm, Citizen Watch Company Limited. However, while the ownership has changed, the firm remains ensconced in Geneva. In 2019, Frederique Constant expanded its production facilities, keen to increase its manufacturing output. In what has actually been a very short time frame, the firm has gained an impressive reputation for producing affordable luxury timepieces for discerning men and women.

One area of expertise for which the brand has become known is the ‘worldtimer’. Frederique Constant unveiled its first worldtimer in 2012 and over subsequent years has released different versions, each one sporting its own distinctive colourway. Green, blue, white and maroon dials have seen service over the years. Recently, the Swiss firm unveiled two new versions of the Frederique Constant Classic Worldtimer Manufacture, each endowed with a dark grey dial. However, before I discuss these watches at length, it may be worth providing some background information on worldtimers.

Worldtimers

Today, there are 24 timezones around the world, however, this was not always the case. During the 1800s, there were more than 300 timezones in the US alone. Different railway stations worked to different times. Ultimately, this led to accidents. For example, in 1853 two trains in New England, sharing the same track, collided, resulting in 14 fatalities. The trains were working to different timezones.

In 1884, the International Prime Meridian Conference was held in Washington D.C with the aim of standardising time. The longitude of Greenwich, England was chosen as the ‘Prime Meridian’ and 24 timezones around the globe were selected. Not all places immediately adopted the system, but today it is in widespread use.

Frederique Constant Classic Worldtimer Manufacture

Louis Cottier (1894-1966), a Swiss independent watchmaker from Carouge, a suburb of Geneva, invented the worldtimer in 1931. The dial of this inaugural worldtimer displayed the prevailing time simultaneously in each of 24 locations around the globe. The complication proved particularly interesting to some of the most prestigious Genevan Maisons, including Patek Philippe, Rolex and Vacheron Constantin.

Dark grey dials

As mentioned earlier, these recently launched versions of Frederique Constant Classic Worldtimer Manufacture feature dark grey dials. They exhibit a subtle character and an understated elegance.

Available in two case options, stainless steel or rose gold plated steel, each one is endowed with a highly polished finish. The smooth flat surfaces of the case and bezel tastefully contrast with the fluted ‘onion style’ crown. This latter detail heightens the aesthetic allure of the watch and augments its sophisticated appearance. Unusually for a watch endowed with this complication, the worldtimer indication and the date can be set just using the crown.

The dial of the Frederique Constant Classic Worldtimer features a depiction of the world set against a dark grey sunburst backdrop. The 24-hour worldtimer ring uses the same light grey colour, paired with white tones, providing the wearer with a useful day/night indication. The inner rotating bezel completes the complication, displaying 24 cities located in different timezones around the globe. Positioned above 6 o’clock is a large subdial displaying the date. It incorporates attractive fluted detail, matching the aforementioned crown.

Image – credit Eric Rossier 

The dial features circular hour markers and steel lancine hands. Where applicable, the hands are rose gold plated in order to match the case finish. The indexes and hands feature luminescent treatment, aiding night-time readability.

Each version of the Frederique Constant Classic Worldtimer Manufacture equipped with a dark grey dial is limited to 718 pieces worldwide, a number which is inspired by the calibre within. The Frederique Constant’s FC-718 manufacture automatic calibre has a frequency of 28’800 Vph (4Hz) and the power reserve is 38 hours when the movement is fully wound. The movement features 26 jewels, perlage and circular Côtes de Genève decoration. In addition, blue heat-treated screws uphold fine-watchmaking practise as well as introducing a welcome dose of colour. The FC-718 caliber can be viewed through the exhibition caseback.

Frederique Constant Classic Worldtimer Manufacture

Image – credit Eric Rossier 

Both versions of the limited edition Frederique Constant Classic Worldtimer Manufacture are supplied on a comfortable dark grey alligator strap, enriched with white stitched detail and paired with a secure folding clasp.

Closing Remarks

I have always been an unabashed fan of the Frederique Constant Classic Worldtimer Manufacture. However, the advent of the grey dial versions has heightened my affection for the model.

Image – credit Eric Rossier 

The dial imparts much information but remains relatively simple to understand. The design is classical, elegant and proffers lasting appeal.

Would-be wearers have a choice of case material, unadorned stainless steel or luxuriously appointed gold plated steel. The price differential is small and selection is likely to be based on the prospective purchaser’s personal taste rather than any fiscal consideration.

Beyond the sophisticated appearance of both versions, the Frederique Constant Classic Worldtimer Manufacture also features a beautifully appointed Manufacture movement. This much sought-after complication is offered for an incredibly keen price. The steel variant is available for £3,470.00, while the gold plated steel option retails for £3,595.00.

Frederique Constant Classic Worldtimer Manufacture

It should be remembered that prior to 2012, a worldtimer equipped with a manufacture movement would attract five-figure pricing. It is hardly surprising that ever since the first version of this timepiece was released, this model has gone on to be a best seller for the luxury marque. With the arrival of these gorgeous grey dial versions, I see this trend continuing.

Further reading

https://frederiqueconstant.com

Technical specifications

  • Model: Frederique Constant Classic Worldtimer Manufacture Dark Grey
  • Reference: FC-718DGWM4H6 (stainless steel); FC-718DGWM4H4 (rose gold plated)
  • Case: Stainless steel or gold plated steel; diameter 42mm; water resistance 5ATM (50 metres); sapphire crystals to front and back
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; seconds; pointer date; worldtimer function
  • Movement: FC-718 automatic caliber; automatic movement; frequency 28,800 VpH (4 Hz); 26 jewels; power reserve 38 hours.
  • Strap: Dark grey alligator leather strap with contrasting white stitches
  • Price: £3,470 (stainless steel); £3,595 (gold plated steel) (RRP as at 31.12.2019)

Press loan

The press sample was kindly provided by https://www.jurawatches.co.uk