"Hit it out of the ballpark" - that's how they say, right? Well, the new Frédérique Constant Classic Manufacture Moonphase, that was officially announced today, appears to have done just that. There's a lot to like about this all-new model from the brand's manufacture collection, so let's see what is new in this in-house movement-equipped offering, priced under 4,000CHF.
Frédérique Constant has been known for producing dressier, classically styled timepieces that often comprise a mix of some of our favorite watch design elements from famous models of historical manufactures – all in an effort to offer a budget, but arguably not "low-budget," alternative to those. The Classic Manufacture line has been the one that featured the brand's in-house movements, and it is not the first time that we see a model with phase of the moon indications in the collection – you'll find our review of a previous version here.
Housed in a 40.5mm-wide case in either stainless steel, or rose gold plated steel, the Frédérique Constant Classic Manufacture Moonphase lives up to its name, resisting the urge to come in a larger, more modern size – if that is your cake, there's a noteworthy alternative in 42mm available (reviewed here). The case appears to be perfectly round, with a large, "onion crown" and slightly angled and curved lugs.
The best bit, though, is arguably the dial: silver colored on both versions, it features a subtle sunburst finish and some rather sharp-looking, rectangular, applied indices, to add that extra bit of depth to the dial. At the 6 o'clock position is the phase of the moon indication, and around it is the date scale.
Frédérique Constant praise the FC-715 caliber inside this model as a "new movement," which may practically be true, though in essence, it really isn't all that new. From what we can see based on the case back images and the dial layout, the only difference between it and its predecessor, the FC-705, is the addition of a central seconds hand in the FC-715. The in-house manufacturing capabilities of Frédérique Constant do deserve admiration – calling this one a new caliber, however, is a bit of a stretch and not entirely necessary.
The dial seems timelessly elegant, with its dauphine hands and applied indices in either rose gold or dark grey, it just looks wonderfully elegant – without trying too hard. If it looks familiar, don't be surprised: if you look on the second page of our feature article on the rarest and most expensive Patek Philippe watches here, you'll find that the Frédérique Constant Classic Manufacture Moonphase does look very reminiscent indeed of the Patek Philippe Ref. 3448, an automatic perpetual calendar watch that was produced between 1962 and 1981 – and the example we featured was sold by Christie's for a stratospheric $2,338,219 a few years ago.
The Frédérique Constant Classic Manufacture Moonphase, while incomparable in many ways, is still some 2.334 million dollars cheaper – and while the democratization of luxury was and still is a paradox, this is about as close as one can get to wearing a quality watch with such a timeless aesthetic - and without breaking the bank.
We left our absolute favorite bit for the last: the Frédérique Constant Classic Manufacture Moonphase comes with a hunter style case back, meaning that there is a lid – decorated with perlage on its inside, as it should be – that can be closed for some solid and restrained looks (and some - though with today's manufacturing technologies, negligible - added protection to the movement), or opened to show off the quite extensively decorated caliber underneath.
Frédérique Constant is not afraid to take some of its most notable design elements – like the perfectly round case that appears slightly "inflated" on its sides, the beautifully shaped lugs, and the onion crown – and mix and match it with remarkably successful designs from the past. The Frédérique Constant Classic Manufacture Moonphase watch will be priced at $3,695 USD or 3,450 Swiss francs for the version in steel, and the price of the rose gold plated model is $3,995 or 3,800 Swiss francs. frederiqueconstant.com