For a few years now, Frederique Constant has been in cahoots with the UK based Healey Challenge. An annual race operated by the Healey Drivers Club. What does Frederique Constant get do in this scene? Well make special limited edition watches that might be of interesting ti the Healey divers. I actually wrote about their last offering here, the most basic Frederique Constant Austin Healey watch. That was a three-handed model where this is a chronograph. Really when I think of race or motorcar themed watches, they have chronograph mechanisms. Thankfully Frederique Constant didn't insert the passe tachymetre scale on the bezel. Finally someone realizes that not all car oriented watches have to look like an Omega Speedmaster or Tag Heuer Carrera.
While lots of classic car lovers are familiar with Austin Healey and cars, like the 3000 (below) and the Sprite, I would say that a club that races the cars and are dedicated only to them is the very definition of Niche. The brand has been "no longer" for a long time and it is interesting to consider a dedicated group of people that year after year obsess over the same cars. Still they are a fun bunch of little roadsters that certainly help remind of a time back in the 1950s and 1960s when small sporty cars were a European specialty. While the special limited edition Frederique Constant Healey Chrono Automatic is made for the small club, there are going to 1,888 pieces available in each version. Meaning that the brand wants more than just a few people to pick this piece us. Good thing that the watch styling is handsome enough for plenty of people to get into them.
In a 43mm wide case, the watch comes in a classic looking polished steel or rose gold plated case. To me, the styling of the case feels reminiscent of the headlight assembly (especially the metal frame) on the car. See what I mean? Style is handsome, functional, utterly conservative, with a tiny little sense of being avant garde - very British, even though it was made and designed by the Swiss. Fans of classic race themed watches will feel right at home with this timepieces.
While this isn't the first year for the Healey Chrono Automatic watch, this year it comes with a special guest. Apparently, when you buy the watch, you get a hand-made stopwatch (which Frederique Constant called a "stoptimer"). Yes, I know the watch itself already has one of those, but how often to you get the chance to get a mechanical stopwatch that isn't found in a state sponsored sale of items from your local public school's athletic department after much needed modernizing.
I cropped the images of the watches here based on images Frederique Constant sent me, but the originals had the watches draped and hanging off a beautifully polished Austin Healey like it was the body of a woman. The perfect accessory next to goggles and driving gloves for the car? Sure. Like I said about the previous models, these are watches that have a character that actually fits with that thing they are said to be in honor of. The watch dial, with its large applied Arabic numerals and dagger hands also has a logo of the UK Healey Challenge race.
Inside the watch is a Swiss Valjoux 7750 automatic with the dated moved to the lower center of the dial. The steel version has a silvered dial while the rose gold plated version has a "chocolate dial." Each is matched to a portholed leather strap and comes in a cool box with the 'stoptimer.' Not totally sure about price, but it will be in the $3,000 - $4,000 range. www.frederique-constant.com
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