Accessibly priced watches with horological chops have been Frederique Constant’s raison d’étre for the past few years. By “horological chops,” I mean watches with in-house movements and complications. Their catalog of self-developed movements is extensive and includes an in-house tourbillon, perpetual calendar, and even a flyback chronograph. But the brand is perhaps most popular for its collection of moonphase watches. And today, the Frederique Constant Classics Moonphase Manufacture is getting an update with a new design and movement.
If you look into it, you will find that Frederique Constant’s current lineup of moonphase watches is confusing. As of now, there’s the Slimline Moonphase Manufacture, which actually consists of two distinct models — one based on the caliber FC-702 and another based on the FC-705. And then there’s the Classics Moonphase Manufacture that you see here.
Prior to this new model, the Classic Moonphase Manufacture had a very Patek-esque design with central hour, minute, and seconds hands, and a subdial at 6 o’clock with the moonphase display and date indicator. For 2019, Frederique Constant has reworked the model entirely. The central hour, minute, and seconds hands remain, but the date indicator and moonphase display have been broken up into two subdials at 9 and 3 o’clock respectively. Gone also are the stick hour markers, and in its place are more elegant stretched Roman numerals. Keeping things simple, the only text on the dial is the brand’s logo at 12 o’clock and the “Automatic” phrase at 6 o’clock. Overall, it’s hard to argue against the clean design and symmetry of the dial.
The Classic Moonphase Manufacture comes in three variants. There are two stainless steel models, one with a silver dial and another with a navy blue dial. And then there’s a rose-gold-plated version that comes with a silver dial. Regardless of which variant you pick, the watch will come with a three-part stainless steel case that is 42mm in diameter. Herein lies my biggest gripe with the watch: At 42mm, the case size seems like a mismatch for the watch’s classic design. That said, we will reserve final judgment until we get the chance to see and handle the watch in the flesh. However, I can’t help but think that the watch will be perfect with a smaller case size.
On the upside, the watch has a sapphire display caseback that allows owners to admire the in-house caliber FC-712. The movement has plenty of decoration. Perlage adorns the baseplate, while circular Côtes de Genève enhances the main bridge. As if that’s not enough, the movement also features blued screws and a skeletonized gilded rotor. The caliber FC-712 beats at a modern 4Hz. Both the date and moonphase displays are easily adjusted using the crown. This negates the need for unsightly pushers in the sides of the case.
In the end, I have mixed feelings about the Classics Moonphase Manufacture watch. On the one hand, I really dig the classic and elegant styling. But on the other hand, I find myself wanting to tear my hair out simply because the watch comes in a 42mm case. Even disregarding the recent trend of smaller watches, a watch that has such a timeless design really ought to come in an equally timeless case size, which, in my mind, should be around 38 or 39mm. Frederique Constant could have really hit it out of the park with this watch but, in the end, it feels like a missed opportunity. The Frederique Constant Classics Moonphase Manufacture is priced at $2,595 in stainless steel. In rose-gold-plated stainless steel, it is $2,895. For more information, visit frederiqueconstant.com.