Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph
Angus Davies wears the Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph for a week and evaluates the performance of this motoring-inspired timepiece.
This detailed review of the Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph includes live images, specification details and pricing.
Observing today’s Formula One grand prix races, one cannot fail to notice the brightly coloured cars driving at breakneck speed, clipping apexes and skimming Armco barriers. Each team paints its cars a unique shade and bedecks lightweight bodywork with a myriad of sponsors’ logos. Each inch of a Formula One car is a potential revenue stream for every competing team. However, it hasn’t always been this way.
In the 1950s, Formula One cars were painted according to national racing colours. Italian cars, such as the Maserati 250F, were red. French cars were blue, German cars were silver and most pertinently, English cars were green.
Several car marques are associated with green paintwork, or, more specifically, ‘British Racing Green’. The ‘Bentley Boys’ circumnavigated the perilous banked track of Brooklands in a green hued car during the 1920s. Jim Clark, arguably one of the finest drivers of all time, frequently drove his green Team Lotus to podium-winning glory. The Austin Healey, another British classic, has raced extensively at Le Mans and Sebring.
Frederique Constant, the luxury watch company, has been associated with Healey for a number of years. During the period both companies have collaborated, Frederique Constant has released several timepieces bearing the name of the British car company. Recently, the Swiss watch brand released the Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph.
The Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph features a bi-compax layout and a British Racing Green dial and strap. The Swiss watch company kindly provided a loan watch for me to evaluate over a seven-day period.
Looking at the dial, the most striking aspect of the display is the two white, snailed subdials standing out from a sea of British Racing Green. This watch is unabashedly a chronograph, with the red hands summoning the wearer’s eyes to take note. Located at 3 o’clock is a 30-minute chronograph register, while opposite, there is a small seconds display.
The main dial area has a sumptuous appearance, courtesy of the rich green hue. The silver-toned hour and minute hands are lined with luminescent treatment. The hours are denoted with applied, luminescent batons, save for 6 and 12 o’clock which are indicated with plump Arabic numerals.
Encircling the dial is a white graduated scale, allowing the user to read-off elapsed seconds and parts thereof. While the one-second markings are clearly visible, I did struggle to see the intervening 0.2 second integers.
A green chapter ring occupies the periphery of the dial and combines one-second markings with Arabic numerals. This proved highly legible and is likely to be used by most wearers when determining elapsed seconds.
The Healey logo is positioned above 6 o’clock.
The Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph features a beautiful case. Each surface is supremely smooth and there is an overriding sense of quality. Measuring 42mm in diameter, the watch is incredibly comfortable to wear. The curved lugs guide the strap downwards, granting a sublime ergonomic fit.
Despite this Swiss watch company being known for making affordable watches, there are no signs of penny-pinching. The capstan-like push-pieces feature a lattice-like motif on their vertical surface. Neither the push-pieces nor the crown inflict themselves on the wearer’s wrist.
The Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph is fitted with a green, perforated leather strap with contrasting stitching. The perforated motif on the strap evokes thoughts of driving gloves and the colour elicits thoughts of British racing cars of yesteryear.
An exhibition case-back provides a view of the self-winding movement. The Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph is a limited edition timepiece and the unique reference number is engraved on the case-back.
The Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph features the FC-397 automatic chronograph movement. The balance has a frequency of 28,800 VpH (4Hz) and the movement contains 25 jewels. The sole barrel provides 46 hours of autonomy.
Côtes de Gèneve motif adorns the gold-coloured oscillating mass. There were few examples of additional finishing but this is consistent with the modest price point of the timepiece.
Frederique Constant was established in 1988. From the outset, Peter Stas and Aletta Stas, the founders of the company, sought to create affordable, luxury watches. Over the years, the Swiss firm has repeatedly dazzled watch buyers with a mixture of classical designs, quality construction and value for money. The Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph upholds this reputation.
This timepiece has an exquisite dial. In particular, the bi-compax layout confers symmetrical harmony. The white registers seemingly step forward from the dial’s epidermis, immediately garnering attention whlie the time indications prove highly legible.
Ultimately, I have enjoyed my time with the Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph. Appraising its many attributes, this timepiece delivers incredible value. Its design is wonderful and it provides a highly practical ownership proposition.
- Model: Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph
- Case: Stainless steel; diameter 42mm, sapphire crystal to front and caseback; water resistant to 5 ATM (50 metres).
- Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds; chronograph
- Movement: FC-397; Self-winding movement; 25 jewels; power reserve 46 hours.
- Strap: Green racing leather strap
- Price: €2595 (RRP as at 27.6.2018)