Geneva-based Frederique Constant (owned by the Japanese Citizen Group) unveils a new movement this year that boasts a moonphase indicator, big date, and power reserve complications. Known as the caliber FC-735, the automatic mechanism (which, according to Frederique Constant, is the 31st movement developed in-house at the company over the last 35 years) will debut in a new extension of the Frederique Constant Classic Manufacture product family known as the Frederique Constant Classic Power Reserve Big Date Manufacture. It’s a very attractive collection of conservatively styled dress watches that includes everything from a sober steel model to gold- and platinum-cased versions at launch.
The FC-735 automatic movement operates at 4Hz and now offers 50 hours of power reserve (new for the movement family). This means Frederique Constant wasn’t only interested in adding new features to an existing platform but is also working on improving the base movement and gear train. The automatic movement is attractively decorated and visible through the caseback. The dial features a combination of emotional and practical functionality. In the center are hands for the seconds, minutes, and hours. At the 9 o’clock position is an instrument-style power reserve indicator; flanking it on the other side is a big date indicator. (Not that most people need the slightly larger viewing window of a two-disc date-indicating system, but it does look cooler, and that is why I refer to it as mostly an emotional complication.) Speaking of emotional complications, the moonphase part of the FC-735 movement sits above the 6 o’clock position on the dial. This combination of complications on a watch dial is admittedly rare, even though there is no stated immediate purpose for assorting these features together. A very important point to mention is that adjusting the date and moonphase indicators is all done via the crown, which means Frederique Constant did not need to resort to inset case pushers (which, in my opinion, is a crude, legacy way to adjust a movement).
I would have loved for the complications to be presented a bit more symmetrically on the dial. Often this is hard to do without starting from scratch with a movement designed around indicating information in a very particular way. The technical architecture of most mechanical watch movements makes it impractical to position indicators in precisely symmetrical positions on the dial. But I think, in an ideal world, there could have been a slightly more elegant way of assembling these complications. I really stress this point mainly because the Classic Power Reserve Big Date Manufacture watch is, by nature, a dress watch, so valued in large part because of its elegance. It is, however, very legible.
Each of the four debut versions of the Frederique Constant Classic Power Reserve Big Date Manufacture watches share the same case dimensions: 40mm wide and 12.2mm thick with 50 meters of water resistance. Over the dial is an AR-coated and slightly domed sapphire crystal. The two steel versions (the references FC-735S3H6 and FC-735N3H6) of the Classic Power Reserve Big Date Manufacture watches are the most affordably priced options and also non-limited editions. Frederique Constant offers the Classic Power Reserve Big Date Manufacture steel case watch in silver and blue dial options, respectively. In all likelihood, additional dial colors and styles will be forthcoming.
In order to debut the new FC-735 automatic movement series, Frederique Constant also offers two higher-end limited edition versions of the Classic Power Reserve Big Date Manufacture as the reference FC-735G3H9 in 18k rose gold with a slate-toned dial and the reference FC-735MT3HPT in 950 platinum with a blue-colored meteorite dial. The 18k rose gold version of the Classic Power Reserve Big Date Manufacture watch is limited to 350 pieces and shows that there continues to be a very real demand for solid-gold watches of this style at this decent (for gold) price point. Watch enthusiasts will probably be a bit more drawn to the only 35-piece limited edition platinum version of the Classic Power Reserve Big Date Manufacture, thanks to its pretty meteorite dial — though, admittedly, the high cost of this watch (in the scheme of Frederique Constant watch prices) will maintain its niche appeal. All of the watches come on hued alligator straps on matching metal deployant clasps. Price for the Frederique Constant Classic Power Reserve Big Date Manufacture watch is $4,995 in steel, $19,995 in 18k gold, and $27,995 USD in 950 platinum. Learn more at the Frederique Constant website here.