Although Frederique Constant originally built its reputation by producing affordable Swiss watches, the brand has significantly expanded its offerings over the years with increasingly premium models and in-house movements. While the Frederique Constant still produces simple time-and-date watches that can be purchased for well below the thousand-dollar price point, precious metal cases and heavy-hitter complications are becoming increasingly common within the brand’s catalog. 2023 is an important year for Frederique Constant, as it represents both the brand’s 35th anniversary and the 15th anniversary of its manufacture tourbillon. To celebrate the occasion, the Swiss brand has unveiled a highly exclusive limited-edition piece, and the new Frederique Constant Manufacture Highlife Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar pairs a solid rose gold case with two of horology’s most prestigious complications.
The new Frederique Constant Manufacture Highlife Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar (ref. FC-975BL4NH9) is based upon the brand’s Highlife series, which is its integrated bracelet watch that was originally introduced in 1999. The case itself measures 41mm in diameter by 12.65mm thick, with a convex sapphire crystal above the dial, a screw-on display caseback, and 30 meters of water resistance. However, unlike the standard Highlife models that are typically crafted from stainless steel, the Manufacture Highlife Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar features a case made from solid 18k rose gold with brushed and polished surfaces. Additionally, since this model is a highly premium and dressy rendition of the Highlife, it foregoes the matching bracelet that can typically be found on models from the Frederique Constant Highlife collection, and it instead comes with both a navy blue alligator leather strap and an additional navy blue rubber strap, which can easily be swapped back and forth using their integrated quick-release system.
The dial of the new Frederique Constant Manufacture Highlife Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar offers a similar style that can be found among other models from the collection with a matte blue surface and the collection’s signature globe pattern embossed into its surface. However, the layout of the dial follows in the footsteps of previous Frederique Constant watches that have featured both a perpetual calendar and a tourbillon, with the date at 3 o’clock, the day sitting opposite it at 9 o’clock, and a register that displays both the month and leap year sitting at the top of the dial. Meanwhile, the tourbillon appears on the bottom at 6 o’clock and it is displayed through an asymmetric aperture that occupies the space below the hands. To complement the warm hue of its case, the hands, and hour markers are all finished in rose gold, with the two centrally-mounted hands and their corresponding indexes all receiving an application of luminous material to increase their low-light visibility.
Powering the new Frederique Constant Manufacture Highlife Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar is the brand’s in-house Caliber FC-975 automatic movement, which features 33 jewels and runs at a frequency of 28,800vph (4 Hz), with a power reserve of approximately 38 hours. Along with offering both a perpetual calendar and a tourbillon, the Frederique Constant Cal. FC-975 also includes a running seconds hand mounted above its tourbillon, and each one of the Manufacture Highlife Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar watches features its individual limited edition number out of 35 examples engraved upon a plate that sits directly in the center of the aperture for the tourbillon. In terms of decoration, the Cal. FC-975 is one of Frederique Constant’s most premium movements, and it is adorned with perlage, blued screws, Geneva stripes, and a skeletonized rose gold-plated rotor, with the entirety of the caliber proudly displayed through the sapphire window in the caseback.
While Frederique Constant still sells a number of watches below the thousand-dollar mark, the new Manufacture Highlife Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar is the total opposite of a budget-friendly offering, and it immediately claims the title of the absolute most expensive timepiece in the brand’s current lineup. Produced as a limited edition of just 35 examples to celebrate the Swiss brand’s 35th anniversary, the new Frederique Constant Manufacture Highlife Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar (ref. FC-975BL4NH9) is accompanied by an official retail price of $48,995 USD, which makes it an entirely different type of purchase compared to the standard models from the Highlight collection. While this undeniably seems rather expensive for a brand that typically sells watches for four-figure prices, it’s important to remember that we are talking about a model with a solid 18k rose gold case that also features two of watchmaking’s most exclusive complications, and had this watch been produced by other Swiss brands, you could virtually guarantee that it would be priced somewhere in the six-figure territory. For more information on the Frederique Constant Manufacture Highlife Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar, please visit the brand’s website.