In 2014, Frédérique Constant watches celebrated the 10th anniversary of their first in-house made movement. They have gone on to create an assortment of new in-house made movements, many of which build and improve upon one another. Inspired by some of their first in-house made watch movements (and the watches that housed them), the Frédérique Constant Manufacture Heart Beat FC-945 watch collection of 2014 pays homage to the last 10 years of the brand’s “in-house efforts.”
Here, we have the solid 18k rose gold version of the Frédérique Constant Manufacture Heart Beat FC-945 watch which is the reference FC-945MC4H9. In addition to this model, Frédérique Constant also offers the ref. FC-945MC4H6 in steel. You’ll find that, given the complications and materials, each of these watches represents a solid value for a Swiss Made watch.
Personally, I am a bit more drawn to simpler dials when it comes to classic-style watches of this sort – but I do appreciate the emphasis of mixing both traditional style and complications in the design of the Frédérique Constant Manufacture Heart Beat FC-945. More simple but more to my taste is the Frédérique Constant Classics Manufacture (aBlogtoWatch review here) which has a similar (but cleaner) dial and the same case design. Having said that, if I were in the market for something a bit more feature packed but still a good value, the Frédérique Constant Manufacture Heart Beat FC-945 would certainly be on my list.
Inside the watch is the Frédérique Constant in-house FC-945 automatic movement which has a lot to appreciate. The movement has a nicely skeletonized automatic rotor which allows you to see the movement, and operates at 4Hz with a 42 hour power reserve. The “Heart Beat” part of the name comes from the fact that the dial has an open window looking at the oscillating balance wheel. From there, you can see some of the slightly more unique elements of the FC-945 movement, such as the parts in silicon such as the escapement wheel, lever, and double roller. I find it interesting that they didn’t opt for a silicon balance spring (which are actually still controversial, given the opinions of various watch makers).
The FC-945 movement offers the hours and minutes, synchronized 24-hour hand (which more-or-less acts as an AM/PM indicator), date dial, and moon phase indicator. It joins the very similar “cousin” movement which is the Frédérique Constant FC-942 in some other watches (with different dials). What is the difference between the FC-942 and the FC-945? The latter has the 24 hour indicator while the former doesn’t and offers a bit more of a symmetrical layout for cleaner dials. For the time being, Frederique Constant Manufacture Heart Beat FC-942 watches also come with black versus silver-tone dials.
The base “Breguet-style” dial on the Frédérique Constant Manufacture Heart Beat FC-945 watch has black Roman numeral hour markers that are matched by black pomme-style hour and minute hands. This creates a nice visual aesthetic and offers a lot of legibility. The dial of course is disrupted by the complication windows as well as the “Heart Beat” window to the balance wheel. The window is meant to look like a movement bridge with some Côtes de Genève polishing and screws. I wouldn’t call this the most elegant design in the world, but it has become distinctive for Frédérique Constant. I actually find that more novice watch buyers like this design element, as it reminds them of the decorated “mechanical nature” of their watch.
At 42mm wide, the Frédérique Constant Manufacture Heart Beat FC-945 case is both wearable and comfortable, also being 11.6mm thick. It never feels too large, but it has that substantial feeling many people like from mechanical watches. Because quartz watches have small, rather lightweight movements, you rarely get this sort of feeling from them. Of course, this particular version comes in the solid 18k rose gold case, which is rare for Frédérique Constant given their typically sub $5,000 price point. Don’t forget, of course, that Frédérique Constant also produces a few Tourbillons in their Manufacture collection that top out the brand at about $47,000 in 18k rose gold. Still, a very reasonable price for a Swiss tourbillon.
Most other rose gold-toned Frédérique Constant watches are gold-plated – which ends up being totally fine for the price. If 18k rose gold isn’t something you are keen to wear (or pay for), the polished steel version of the Frédérique Constant Manufacture Heart Beat FC-945 is a sound choice. The watch case is further water resistant to 50 meters and has an AR-coated sapphire crystal on the front and rear.
If I was going to have just one dressier mechanical watch in my collection and wanted a lot of bang for my buck something like the Frédérique Constant Manufacture Heart Beat FC-945 or something similar would certainly be on my list of watches to look at. It offers a lot of mainstream appeal, though I think purist watch collectors will be drawn to other pieces in the Frédérique Constant collection. Let me tell you why I think that is. The combination of features in the watch is attractive, but isn’t classically-inspired or particularly harmonious. Thus, the watch – which attractive in the abstract – doesn’t neatly fit within the timepiece style categories watch lovers tend to want to fill, such as “the dress watch, the triple calendar watch, the dive watch, the sporty chronograph, etc…”
Attached to the Frédérique Constant Manufacture Heart Beat watch is a brown alligator strap for this 18k rose gold version and a blue alligator strap on the steel version. What continues to excite me is where I believe Frédérique Constant is going with their development in of in-house movements and some of the things they will reveal over the next couple of years. I look forward to seeing what 2015 has in store for them. Price for the Frédérique Constant Manufacture Heart Beat FC-945 ref. FC-945MC4H6 watch in steel is 5,595 Swiss Francs and this ref. FC-945MC4H9 in 18k rose gold is priced at 11,890 Swiss Francs (under $12,000). frederique-constant.com