2024 marks the 20th anniversary of the partnership between Frederique Constant and legacy British sports car marque Austin-Healey, and over the past two decades, the Swiss brand has continuously refined its efforts to capture the spirit of classic ‘50s British roadsters for the wrist. Its latest effort (first unveiled in late 2023) brings a substantial evolutionary leap forward to nearly every element of its sporty three-hand platform, from case design to movement performance, dial balance, and even strap quality. This new limited-edition Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Automatic COSC stands as perhaps the best Healey model yet, pairing a charmingly restrained, finely executed retro sports watch design with an impressive chronometer-grade movement and a unique suite of included extras.

At its core, the Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Automatic COSC’s 40mm wide stainless steel case is simple, crisp, and warmly familiar. The overall design is a classic ‘50s sporting form, with slim unchamfered tapering lugs, a rounded smooth bezel, and an elegantly soft, rounded case side profile. A slender 10.3mm thick profile and a fully polished finish help to accentuate the more refined side of this classic shape, but in a world of 37mm sports watch cases this 40mm all-dial case design still feels a touch oversized on the wrist. A version of this same case at 38mm wide would likely be an enthusiast darling, but at its current size, it’s far from unwearable. The crisply engraved caseback (featuring the historic Austin-Healey 100S chassis number NOJ 393 that competed at the 1953 24 Hours of Le Mans) is carried over from previous Healey-branded Frederique Constant models, but the effect remains charmingly handsome, with enough detail to convey the car accurately while still feeling clean and stylized. The under-gunned 50-meter water resistance rating is also carried over from previous models, but in all fairness, the Vintage Rally Healey Automatic COSC is certainly on the dressier side of sports watch design.

Advertising Message

Although the basic design language behind the Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Automatic COSC’s dial is shared with other models in the line, this new iteration presents these elements in a cleaner, more focused layout. Gone are the applied Arabic numerals, extraneous small seconds subdials, and date windows, replaced with a simple, distilled three-hand presentation. The matte British racing green dial surface effectively sets the tone here – it’s a sporting watch, certainly, but filtered through the subtle sensibilities of the ‘50s and presented with characteristically British restraint. The applied beveled indices and gently flanged alpha handset reinforce this character on the wrist, but offer a brilliantly polished flash in changing light. Frederique Constant adds some racy contrast to the layout with an outer minutes scale in bright white, while the pure red needle seconds hand and matching “Chronometer” text at 6 o’clock give the watch its only obviously race-inspired cues. Taken as a whole, it’s certainly on the quieter side of automotive-inspired dials, but this less blatant approach helps to make the Vintage Rally Healey Automatic COSC more approachable to non-car fanatics as well as easier to wear on a daily basis.

Frederique Constant powers the Vintage Rally Healey Automatic COSC with the Sellita SW200-based FC-301 automatic movement. While the basic performance figures are shared with the standard SW200 – including the below-average 38-hour power reserve and the 28,800 bph beat rate – the real draw to the FC-301 is its accuracy. COSC chronometer certification is a real rarity at the Vintage Rally Healey Automatic COSC’s price point, and its inclusion here substantially raises the feeling of quality overall.

As with the rest of the design, Frederique Constant lightly updates its strap offering for the Vintage Rally Healey Automatic COSC. Like previous versions, this is a small-hole leather rally strap with white accent stitching, but the leather in question is substantially improved. Earlier models used a glossy leather texture that aged quickly and left little in the way of nuance to the leather surface itself. Here, the dark chocolate brown leather takes on a far more premium-feeling matte surface, complete with a detailed, lightly porous texture that makes the watch feel much more plush and detailed on the wrist. However, it’s worth noting that the strap could use at least one more sizing hole for smaller wrists — my own wrist measures in at 6.75 inches, and even on the smallest sizing hole, the watch is decidedly loose during wear.

Advertising Message

Plenty of luxury watch brands pair their offerings with extravagant display packaging, but the Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Automatic COSC stands in a class of its own here. The watch’s large, handsomely finished presentation box also contains a sizeable 1/18-scale model of the 1953 Austin-Healey 100S chassis NOJ 393. As both a die-hard car enthusiast and an avid scale modeler outside of the watch space, this is an element I (and I suspect many other car/watch aficionados) immediately gravitate towards. Although there’s no evident manufacturer branding here, it’s a decently appointed representation of the car in question, with applied chromed badging, opening doors, and (most impressively) real miniature leather straps used across the hood and trunk. Even the original car’s dark green upholstery is carried over here, albeit in the same metallic British racing green as the car’s body. With that said, the lack of an opening engine bay or undercarriage details is slightly disappointing (as is the nigh-on impossible-to-remove black plastic mounting bracket), but as a shelf display piece, this model is a stylish companion to the watch and an attractive alternative to yet another presentation box for collectors.

It’s been 20 years since Frederique Constant first partnered with classic British sporting automaker Austin-Healey, and Frederique Constant has spent those two decades continuously iterating on and improving its subtle yet sporty formula. The fruits of those long-running efforts shine through brightly in the Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Automatic COSC limited edition, which offers the brand’s clearest, most focused, and most compelling midcentury British roadster-inspired timepiece to date. Only 1,888 examples of the Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Automatic COSC will be made, and the watch is available now through authorized dealers. MSRP for the Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Automatic COSC stands at $1,995 USD as of press time. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.

Advertising Message

Subscribe to our Newsletter