Today’s article, well, this is going to be one for all the folks who think we’re in the pocket of the watch companies, as we tend to write mostly favorable things. Why is that? It’s because we write about what we like and find interesting, and just ignore the stuff that doesn’t do it for us. However, when the news came across about the Frederique Constant Slimline Perpetual Calendar designed by Peter Speake, we just could not let this one slide.
Or who knows, perhaps it’s just me that can’t let it slide. And I will preface this by saying that I have enjoyed a number of Frederique Constant designs, and Peter Speake has created some very lovely watches over at Speake-Marin (that said, he left the brand in 2017). This watch though, it just doesn’t feel right.
First up – a watch has one job to do, and that is transmitting information about the time (and perhaps calendar information) quickly, cleanly, and at a glance. And sure, while we might like to see the bits of machinery that all of that is done via, if there’s too much exposed on the dial side, you had darn sure better do something to make the handset stand out cleanly. Here, for whatever reason, we have a skeletonized handset, that, while done in white, still is hard to pick out. Why is that?
Well, it’s because you’ve got a whole variety of subdials (day of week, date, moonphase, and leap year indicator) that are also open-worked (exposing more of the mechanicals) with their own skeletonized handset. In other words, there’s a lot going on, visually, that makes it hard to pick out what exactly is going on. Perhaps it’s better in person, but here, this looks like something that we’re used to seeing done with super-inexpensive skeletonized watches that prize form over any semblance of function.
UPDATE: If you want insight into why Mr. Speake has made the design changes he has, we would refer you to this article on his website.
And that gets us to another point of failure in my book – the pricing. For me, Frederique Constant has represented affordable, dressier Swiss designs (with stablemate Alpina offering the same, but in a sportier context). Here, they’ve swung hard for the luxury watch fences, and have come up with a price tag of $11,950. Sure, it’s an in-house perpetual calendar movement, and there are only 135 of these being made. So yeah, that will lift prices. But is the usual Frederique Constant buyer going to be putting down almost twelve grand for a watch? Or will the person who’s would have considered one of Mre. Speake’s previous designs (from Speake-Marin) be happy with a watch that has the F-C logo on the dial?
My money would be on a “no” to both of those. While a collaboration between this brand and designer had the potential to be something very intriguing, this particular collaboration turned out a jumbled mess that we wouldn’t not be surprised to see in a forum ad. If you look at it solely from the perspective of how it stacks up against other mechanical perpetual calendars, then maybe it make sense. At the end of the day, the legibility is what kills the watch for me. If you disagree with me, though, feel free to drop us a comment below before you head on over to check out all the details over at frederiqueconstant.com
- Reference: FC-775PS4S6
- Functions: Hours, minutes, moonphase, date, day, month, leap year
- FC-775 in-house caliber, automatic, perpetual calendar
- Perlage decoration on movement
- Anthracite bridge
- Blue rotor
- Satin finishing on all springs
- Circular finishing on perpetual calendar wheels
- 26 jewels, 38-hour power reserve, 28’800 alt/h
- Polished stainless steel 3-part case
- Diameter of 42mm
- Height of 12,05 mm
- Anti-reflective convex sapphire crystal
- See-through case back
- Water-resistant up to 3 ATM/30m/100ft
- Grey color dial with matt finishing, skeleton, luminescent printed indexes
- White and polished hands with luminous treatment
- Moonphase with luminous treatment
- Grey nylon strap with off-white stiching
- Folding buckle
- Limited Edition: “Limited edition 135 pieces” mention engraved on the movement