November 24, 2016
by Victor Marks
This is not the first time Frederique Constant has made a “heart beat” watch, nor the first time we’ve covered one (see our hands-on here). However, it is the news of two new models, with manufacture movements that gives us cause to talk about the Frederique Constant Heart Beat Manufacture watch today. The Frederique Constant Heart Beat Manufacture is named just as its predecessor was, but bears some slight modifications for an overall cleaner look on what was already a well-regarded watch.
Clearly, “heart beat” refers to the dial aperture that displays the balance wheel pulsing away at 6 o’clock. Frederique Constant claims to have “invented” this design feature, and that their failure to patent it resulted in imitation by other brands.
The first Frederique Constant Heart Beat watch came out in 1994. As the brand tells it, Frederique Constant was still a small company at that time that didn’t have an internal legal department reviewing trademarks, design registration, or design patents. Had they been paying greater attention, they could have registered the design and possibly protected it. Instead, the watches they introduced with the heart beat design were quickly imitated by competitors. By then, it was too late to register the design, so Frederique Constant had to seek out another way to establish a strong association in the minds of consumers and assert that the design originated with Frederique Constant. The way they decided to do that was by continuing to make and improve upon the Heart Beat collection.
There have been Heart Beat Day-Date watches developed in partnership with Dubois-Depraz, Heart Beat Perpetuals, and even a Heart Beat Retrograde developed with Agenhor. The real triumph for Frederique Constant remained to develop their own caliber, and by placing the balance wheel on the front side of the caliber, Frederique Constant was able to register the design and protect it properly. That brings us to today’s movement.
The new Frederique Constant Heart Beat Manufacture watch that features a blue dial and subdial for the date at 12 o’clock is equipped with the automatic manufacture caliber, the FC-941. While the watches bear the same name as their predecessors, this model features some changes. It keeps the 42mm case, which provides ample space for the incorporation of an additional function of “date by hand,” as the brand calls it, at 12 o’clock. This is in contrast to the hour-and-minutes-only functions on the white-dialed model that runs the basic FC-930-2 movement. Even though the FC-930 movement was introduced in 2006, both calibers feature the latest upgraded technology. The escapement that can be seen through the heart beat aperture is made of silicon, reputed for its long service intervals.
The navy blue-colored dial gives the watch a deep and sophisticated look. Dials on both models are detailed with roman numeral markers, an internal minute track, and vertical guilloche on the inner circle of the dial. These stripes are mirrored on the water-drop shape to the right of the balance wheel that is finished like a movement plate with Geneva stripes, further emphasizing the mechanical nature of the watch made explicit by its “hear beat” aperture. Straps are alligator in appropriately matches colors, and the Frederique Constant Heart Beat Manufacture is available for the very reasonable price of 4,590 CHF for the reference FC-941NS4H6 with blue dial and date subdial. Price for the white-dial reference FC-930MS4H6 is 3,500 CHF. www.frederiqueconstant.com