Peter Stas, Frederique Constant
Angus Davies interviews Peter Stas, Frederique Constant.
During the launch of the Slimline Moonphase Stars Manufacture, Angus Davies interviews Peter Stas, Frederique Constant. Peter is the CEO of the Genevan-based company.
Looking down on the city of Nice, I marvelled at the glittering spectacle ahead of me. The shimmering night time views of the French city, famed for its boutiques and beaches, provided a fitting metaphor for a new and very glamorous ladies watch from Frédérique Constant. Indeed, the shimmering diamonds encircling the dial of the Slimline Moonphase Stars Manufacture seemed to echo the behaviour of the sparkling lights of Nice.
Frédérique Constant unveiled its latest ladies timepiece at an observatory, high on a hill above the aforementioned French city. The observatory was designed by Gustave Eiffel, famous for the Parisian Tower bearing his name, and Charles Garnier (Paris Opera House). The observatory was inaugurated in 1888. At that time the telescope was the largest in the world, measuring 18 metres in length and 76 cm in diameter.
Slimline Moonphase Stars Manufacture
The Slimline Moonphase Stars Manufacture is available in a choice of steel and gold-plated cases. Dials are offered in black and blue, replicating the shades of a nocturnal sky. The case of each variant is adorned with 60 twinkling diamonds, a tasteful reminder of the stars above.
The large moonphase display featured on this exquisite feminine timepiece, reveals a plethora of stars. The scale of this aperture is most unusual and presents the moon in a glorious widescreen format.
Frédérique Constant is a vertically integrated company and has impressive production facilities in Plan-les-Ouates, a suburb of Geneva. It is in this state of the art facility where the company ‘develops, manufactures and assembles its in-house calibres.’
Powering the Slimline Moonphase Stars Manufacture is the FC-701 self-winding movement, proffering wearer convenience. The movement is beautifully decorated with perlage and Côtes de Genève motif. The crown allows the wearer to adjust all indications obviating the need for case-band correctors and annoying tools.
Congruent with Frédérique Constant’s strategy, the Slimline Moonphase Stars Manufacture is aggressively priced and delivered at a modest CHF 4,295 for the steel version and CHF 4,595 for the gold-plated option (the prices quoted are as at 4.10.2017).
Interview with Peter Stas, Frederique Constant (PS) by Angus Davies (AD)
Prior to interviewing Peter Stas, Frederique Constant, I made notes concerning the business he has steered with his wife and co-founder Aletta Stas. In 2016, the independently owned company was sold to Citizen Watch with Mr and Mrs Stas continuing to assume day to day responsibility for running the company.
AD: Since being acquired by Citizen Watch, have you benefited from any efficiencies or synergies?
PS: I would not describe the changes as ‘efficiencies’ but rather opportunities to grow. We started on the 1st January with the North American Citizen organisation and on the 1st August we started with the UK Citizen division which has taken over the distribution. Since the acquisition, the United States has experienced the benefits of a larger concern. It is capable of forming deeper relationships with the major retailers whereas being a smaller company we had difficulties talking to the right people, setting up the right promotion plans, getting enough space and really collaborating in a way that would result in more ‘sell-out’ and by default ‘sell-in’.
AD: Does this mean that within the UK we will see a greater number of Ateliers de Monaco watches?
PS: The Ateliers de Monaco watches are being managed centrally from Geneva. Activity consists of headquarters liaising directly with the individual retailer.
AD: How do you envisage the Frédérique Constant and Alpina names developing, moving forward? Clearly you and Aleta are very hands-on tonight (both Peter and Aletta were present at the launch of the Slimline Moonphase Stars Manufacture) and you still seem to have the passion for the industry. I am surprised that you have not taken off into the sunset and enjoyed the sale proceeds from disposing of Frédérique Constant and Alpina.
PS: We should do that more. Frankly, we have had a hectic year, but not because of Citizen Watch or Frédérique Constant. We have moved to Holland to be near our family. We have also been busy restoring a house which is nearly completed. Once everything is concluded this should liberate about 40% of my time. Not all of this time will go back into the company, some of it will go to the beach and a little bit of travelling!
AD: Are we likely to see specification changes now you’re under the ownership of Citizen Watches? Or are we likely to see you retain autonomy on the production side?
PS:. It remains myself, Aletta and the management team making the decisions. We try to allow the management team to run more of the company which means Aletta can spend more time on collections. Next year, we have a strong collection including two new, innovative connected products. I would say that we continue to operate with passion and independently of Citizen.
AD: I keep talking of Citizen influencing your activities, but have you taken any expertise directly to Citizen? For example, will we see Citizen branded products with major input from Frédérique Constant?
PS: Not yet. We have had a number of strategic discussions to share technologies and share our developments.. There remains work to be done looking at synergies without diminishing the brand values of Citizen or Frédérique Constant.
Chatting to Peter Stas I was struck that the Japanese owners of Frédérique Constant and Alpina are not imposing huge changes on the Genevan-based brand with immediate effect. The day to day running of the company is still managed by Peter, Aletta and the team of personnel based in Plan-les-Ouates. Any changes to the Swiss watch company are being implemented slowly and with great care.
Mr Stas was refreshingly candid about his vision for Frédérique Constant, Alpina and Ateliers de Monaco. We chatted both before and after our interview and It was during these conversations that Mr Stas repeatedly touched on both the design attributes of his watches and the importance of value for money. It was while handling a Frédérique Constant timepiece that the sentiments of Mr Stas resonated with me. Indeed, it is clear to see this business philosophy manifest with the Slimline Moonphase Stars Manufacture, a watch imbued with great design and offered at a highly competitive price.