Frederique Constant’s newest watch with an in-house made movement is both useful and attractive. Building upon their core in-house automatic with an “open heart” display of the escapement, this newer model with the Caliber FC-938 automatic boasts the time with a second time zone in a subsidiary dial. Making for a good traveler’s watch, the second time zone is displayed in a simple 12 hour format. AM/PM indication is preserved via a small day/night indicator located at 8 o’clock on the small dial.
The new Heart Beat Manufacture Dual Time Automatic will come in a range of styles. Most (if not all) of them will be limited editions. I am not totally sure why they do this is as it seems Frederique Constant could go mainstream with the collection. The truth is likely in that they are constantly refining the collection and it makes more sense to build limited batches of these watches.
Each of the watches come in 42mm wide case, with steel and at least one 18k gold model. The simple cases are attractive, but rounded and polished to look very traditionally formal. Through the back of the watch is a sapphire crystal display of the movement (which has some applied decoration and Geneva stripes).
You’ll notice that the collection has two distinct dial types. One is more practical with a machine guilloche engraved dial and Roman numerals. Notice the slick looking black oxidized hands. Of course there is the “heart-beat” window showing the escapement (which runs at a rate of 28,800 bph). The second dial is a semi-skeletonized version with mostly cotes de Geneve stripes and some exposed gears. This version of the Heart Beat Manufacture Dual Time Automatic does look cooler but is going to be must harder to read in the long term. While there is a dedicated ring of indicators around the periphery of the dial, the hour markers are not distinct enough from the minute markers, and the hands are too short to reach them. Plus, the hour hand in the second time zone dial goes right over the exposed gear which hampers its legibility. Much of these issues could have been resolved by simply improving the size and design of the hands.
According to Frederique Constant you can easily set the times via the crown. When you pull the crown out and turn it in one direction both the times adjust, and when you turn it in the other direction only the small hour hand adjusts. This is to remove the need of using an extra pusher. I that is the case because these pictures clearly show a small inset pusher located at about 2 o’clock, and I have no idea what it is used for. Not like there is a date or anything to adjust.
If Frederique Constant uses an external pusher it would have been better – because you don’t always have something to press the pusher with (especially if you are traveling). An interesting solution I have been thinking of is to make the tongue (pin) part of the ardillon buckle double as a stylus. Thus, if you don’t have something else to use, you can just remove the watch and use the buckle pin as a stylus. Currently, most of the time the pins are too large to be used as a stylus to adjust these inset pushers. Maybe someone (hint hint) will develop this.
In addition to the two mentioned dials is a third dial that is white enamel. Usually enamel dials are on higher-end pieces, so it is interesting that Frederique Constant chose to use one. This dial has Roman numerals on it and is very similar to the silvered machine guilloche engraved face. The various models in this collection with the FC-938 movement are limited editions in series limited to 188 pieces for the 18k rose gold models or 1,888 pieces for each of the steel models. They are each matched to a brown or blue alligator strap. Overall these pieces are mostly very nice and the functionality is useful. Another strong contender from the brand this year.
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