time-business


Frédérique Constant opens a new chapter

INFRASTRUCTURE

Español Français
June 2019


Frédérique Constant opens a new chapter

The company, which has just celebrated its 30th anniversary and is still seeking to “democratize Swiss watchmaking luxury”, is doubling the surface area of its premises, with the aim of increasing production from 160,000 to 250,000 watches per year over the next five years. For the occasion, it is launching two limited editions of its Tourbillon Manufacture Quantième Perpétuel watch. Visit.

I

n 2006, Frédérique Constant felt the need to enlarge its production facilities. The company, then independent, decided to move to a 3,200 m2 building in Plan-les-Ouates, a watchmaking hub in Geneva.

More than a decade after this first move, the company - which also owns Alpina Watches and Ateliers deMonaco - has been running out of space again. Two years were needed to achieve the construction of an additional 3000 m2 space, bringing the Frederique Constant Group’s headquarters up to 6200 m2, enabling to completely re-organize the implementation of the different working spaces.

It is this extension that has just been inaugurated by the brand, now owned by the Japanese group Citizen. With an ambitious objective: the overall goal is to increase the production capacity from 160,000 to 250,000 watches per year within the next 5 years. On the first floor, the whole production workshop from T1 to T4 will be regrouped, optimizing watchmaking workflow and logistics.

Two years were needed to achieve the construction of an additional 3000 m2 space, bringing the Frederique Constant Group’s headquarters up to 6200 m2.

Frédérique Constant's new headquarters in Geneva
Frédérique Constant’s new headquarters in Geneva

For Niels Eggerding, Managing Director of Frédérique Constant, the new building “represents the industry’s most cutting-edge facility for watch assembly, training and quality control. Having grown very rapidly in the last years we needed a truly innovative workspace to improve efficiency. We now combine our R&D, production, assembly and quality control processes under one roof. That means a complete consolidation of work that will help our brands to become even more productive and streamlined than ever before.”

A space for visits

On the ground floor, the visitors will find an exclusive dedicated space where guests will have the chance to go through a “Manufacture Experience” and discover each brand’s universe and history. Amongst many displays and settings, the visitors will be able to discover heritage timepieces, the manufacturing process of the brands’ in-house calibres, details of some of the most iconic watches, innovative savoir-faire, specific watchmaking functions, connected watches and more.

Since 2004, Frédérique Constant has launched 29 in-house movements for both its mechanical and smartwatch models.

Since 2004, when Frederique Constant had launched its first manufacture caliber, the watchmaker has reached 29 in-house movements as of today and is looking to develop its internal know-how even further, creating more in-house movements for both its mechanical and smartwatch models. To name just a few, Frederique Constant has released several watchmaking beacons over the past years such as the iconic Heart Beat Manufacture, the FC-700 caliber series including the successful Worldtimer Manufacture and Flyback Chronograph, or high-end complications such as the Perpetual Calendar or the newly released Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar Manufacture timepiece.

Niels Eggerding, Aletta Stas, Toshio Tokura, Peter Stas
Niels Eggerding, Aletta Stas, Toshio Tokura, Peter Stas

“Frédérique Constant is a pioneer of innovation and excellence in the Swiss watch industry and worldwide thanks to the first Swissmade horological Smartwatch and Hybrid collection,” said its co-founder Peter Stas. “The strong tradition of investing in new technologies, new in-house mechanical movement at an affordable price tag reflects the brand’s commitment to make more people enjoy luxury worldwide.”

Three brands, three distinct strategies

For Frédérique Constant, the strategy is always a matter of “extending accessible luxury”. For Alpina, the objective is “to develop key markets and distribution channels while developing growth” (especially after the success of the AlpinerX Outdoors Smartwatch, launched in 2018). As for Ateliers deMonaco, it serves as a laboratory, “where our master watchmakers can innovate and create new movements, while pushing the boundaries of the highest watchmaking complications possible, which can then be spread to Frederique Constant and Alpina models.”

For Frédérique Constant, it is always a matter of “extending accessible luxury”. For Alpina, the objective is to develop key markets and distribution channels, drawing on the success of the AlpinerX Outdoors Smartwatch.

It should be noted that Toshio Tokura, Chairman of the Citizen Group, was present at the inauguration. For Frédérique Constant, “with the opening of this new building, the group has now equipped its facilities for the future, preparing its brands to meet their demands for future growth.”

Two new models

To celebrate the opening of its extended facilities in Geneva, Frédérique Constant introduces two new Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar Manufacture timepieces, in stainless steel or 18K rose gold, which echo the model successfully launched last year to mark the brand’s 30th anniversary. Both feature a classic navy-blue skeleton dial.

The Perpetual Calendar Tourbillon Manufacture timepiece “embodies the founders’ quest to democratise Swiss watchmaking savoir-faire and innovation.” In 2004, after a few years of research and development, Frédérique Constant introduced its first in-house patented manufacture movement: the Heart Beat Manufacture Calibre.

Four years later, the brand unveiled its first in-house manufacture Tourbillon, based on the Heart Beat Manufacture calibre. Later in 2016, to celebrate the 10th year anniversary of the Frédérique Constant manufacture in Plan-les-Ouates, another grand complication was created: the Manufacture Perpetual Calendar watch, paving the way for a new generation of Swiss Made complicated watches at a democratic price tag and becoming a beacon of the brand’s know-how and expertise.

Two limited editions of the Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar Manufacture were launched on the occasion of this inauguration
Two limited editions of the Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar Manufacture were launched on the occasion of this inauguration

Innovative tourbillon cage

The FC-975 automatic movement of the Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar Manufacture is equipped with a silicium escapement wheel and anchor. This specific material counters problems caused by the effect of the earth’s gravity when the movement is in a vertical position and is resistant to temperature change.

This grand complication also bears a smart weight balance wheel and a delicate and even tourbillon cage. Frédérique Constant patented its tourbillon cage composed of 80 components all produced with a precision of 1-2 micron (0.001-0.002 mm) thanks to its CNC machines. In order to achieve the highest degree of precision, small weights are added in the tourbillon’s cage to obtain a perfect balance.

When the tourbillon is constructed, the cage’s stability is slightly off, as the escapement wheel and anchor are decentered. Frédérique Constant added a “smart screw” system on the outer edge of the tourbillon to equalize the weight and deliver a perfect balance within the cage, resulting in a more stable amplitude and rate.

Limited editions

The two new Perpetual Calendar Tourbillon Manufacture models are presented in a substantial 42mm diameter 3-part case, available either in polished stainless steel or in 18K rose gold. Both come with a see-through case back to let one admire the delicate Perlage & Côtes de Genève decorations.

The watches feature a stunning, skeletonized silver colour dial with navy blue sub-dials and outer ring and a navy-blue alligator strap.

The Perpetual Calendar complication also displays the day, date and month and requires even less adjustments than an annual calendar. This highly sophisticated complication acknowledges the number of days each month, displays the year and automatically adjust itself for the leap year. Once set, it will remember the months with 30 and 31 days, the 28 days of February as well as the leap year cycle with the return of 29th of February every four years.

The Perpetual Calendar doesn’t require any manual correction before 400 years, although there is an exception in the Gregorian Calendar, the watch will need to be adjusted on March 1st, 2100. The hour and minute functions are all adjustable through the crown. The dial presents at 12 o’clock the months and leap year, at 3 o’clock the days and at 9 o’clock the week days.

The tourbillon’s cage sits at 6 o’clock, with its incorporated seconds hand that rotates once every minute. Each cage is sequentially numbered on the top plate in the center of the cage, matching the limited-edition number on the case. This combination showcases the limited edition of 88 pieces for the stainless-steel version and 30 pieces for the 18K rose gold case.

Explore the Europa Star archives - Join us as a Club member
Including over 350 fully searchable back issues, up to the latest 2019 publications. A treasure trove for all knowledgeable professionals and aficionados.