One brand we haven’t discussed for quite some time is Frederique Constant and yet with their 2021 Watches & Wonders presentation, they couldn’t be any more worthy of our attention. Entirely redefining the principles of mechanical watch regulation, the Swiss watch manufacturer has launched the new Slimline Monolithic Manufacture watch which they describe as delivering “industry-leading precision by ticking ten times faster than most mechanical movements.”
How have they managed that? We hear you ask… In short, they have created a new type of oscillator that runs at 40Hz – that’s an astonishing 288,000 beats per hour! Truth be told, the way most mechanical watches are regulated has not changed in almost three decades with the vast majority regulated by a Swiss lever escapement and a balance wheel. This only further highlights the importance of the new Frederique Constant Slimline Monolithic Manufacture watch, which for the first time delivers an entirely new type of oscillator and delivers a frequency we didn’t even know was possible.
To create the oscillator for the new Frederique Constant Slimline Monolithic Manufacture, the luxury watch brand has collaborated with Flexous, an independent horological technology company that specialises in developing flexible parts for mechanical movements. These flexible parts are also sometimes referred to as flexible compliant mechanisms. The elastic properties of certain materials like silicon allow the manufacturer to create compact, precise and monolithic single-piece components to replace some of the assembled mechanical parts. With this in mind, Frederique Constant now uses these flexible, jointless structures in the design of its revolutionary oscillator. In fact, they have replaced 26 components of its standard assortment with one monocrystalline silicon component fitted with two regulation weights.
In the words of Niels Eggering, Managing Director of Frederique Constant: “The new Slimline Monolithic Manufacture embodies Frederique Constant’s visionary spirit, determination and passion for watchmaking know-how.”
So, what are the benefits of this technology? First of all, with the absence of several mechanical components within the movement, it eliminates a huge level of contact, play, friction, wear and lubrication which ultimately increases the reliability of the watch. Silicon is also a fantastic material for engineering avant-garde components such as this since it is anti-magnetic, lightweight, requires no lubrication and its wear is almost non-existent. The oscillator can also reach an impressive frequency of 40hz or 288,000 compared to the 4Hz of 28,800 vibrations per hour in most modern mechanical movements which in turn helps minimize the effect of gravity and achieve greater levels of precision.
Ultimately, Frederique Constant has developed a brand new movement capable of coping with a head-turning speed of frequency nicknamed the FC-810 automatic calibre. The movement is Frederique Constant’s 30th in-house calibre and it comes with a healthy power reserve of 80 hours. It has been debuted within a trio of Frederique Constant Slimline Monolithic Manufacture watches which beautifully show off its crown jewel through the dial – the oscillator pokes through an aperture at 6 o’clock. The rest of the movement can be seen through the exhibition case back decorated with traditional Geneva stripes, perlage, and a skeletonised oscillating weight.
Dr Nima Tolou, CEO of Flexous Mechanisms, comments: “We are very proud of this exciting result and all done in only about two years, from concept to a product in a selling watch. We are proud of the synergy achieved in this unique Frederique Constant-Flexous project.”
In contrast to the futuristic movement housed within, the Frederique Constant Slimline Monolithic Manufacture watches offer a traditional aesthetic characterised by Roman numerals, Breguet-style hands and a classic round 40 millimetre case. As we mentioned, there are currently three models to choose from, two of which are engineered from stainless steel and a third crafted from 18 carat rose gold. The first stainless steel reference opts for a blue stamped hobnail patterned dial and a blue alligator leather strap while the second chooses an elegant white guilloche dial and black alligator leather strap. The solid gold reference also boasts a white dial but with a brown leather band.
The two stainless steel Frederique Constant Slimline Monolithic Manufacture watches are limited to 810 pieces each and retail at £3,995. For the avid collector, the rose gold Frederique Constant Slimline Monolithic Manufacture watch is limited to only 81 pieces and retails at £13,995. For more information on these watches and where to order your own, head to the Jura Watches website here or contact us on 01335 453453.