While usually on the classic side of things, Frederique Constant has recently decided to bring more modernity and sportiness to its collection by joining the ever-growing list of brands part of the luxury sports watch (understand integrated bracelet) category. With its Highlife collection, launched in 2020, the brand is adding another string to its bow and can thus answer the demand of younger enthusiasts. Following the inaugural automatic and perpetual calendar models, as well as the bold Automatic Skeleton of this summer, the brand combines its modern design with one of its emblematic manufacture movements, resulting in this new Frederique Constant Highlife Worldtimer Manufacture.
Despite having positioned itself as part of the “accessible luxury” market, Frederique Constant remains nevertheless a prolific watchmaker with over 30 manufacture calibres in its portfolio. From simple time-and-date to more complex designs such as a perpetual calendar, a flyback chronograph or even a Perpetual Calendar Tourbillon (and for less than 20K Euros…), the brand is covering most of the classic complications. And there’s one that shouldn’t be overlooked, it’s the brand’s vision of the traveller’s watch, expressed in the shape of a worldtimer display. Already available in the Classic collection, it was just a matter of time before FC’s recent watch with integrated bracelet received this movement too.
There are multiple ways to create a watch for travelling purposes. To the exception of exotic solutions, we can mostly count three types. First is the classic GMT watch, with a central 24h hand and, quite often, a 24h scale on the inner flange or on the rotating bezel. Then are the Dual-Time watches, with more original displays for the second time zone, by the mean of sub-dials or windows. Finally the worldtimer, probably the most elegant solution, which has been developed by Louis Cottier in the 1930s, and which displays the local time with hour and minute hands at the centre coupled with a rotating 24-hour ring encircled by the name of different cities or places. For more details on traveller’s watches, you can read our in-depth technical article here. The latter is the solution chosen by Frederique Constant.
The new Highlife Worldtimer Manufacture
If you think about it, the addition of a worldtimer function on the Highlife collection makes quite some sense… Indeed, all the models have one specific design element on the dial that makes it sort of a globetrotter’s watch, with an engraved pattern that depicts the shape of a globe. So naturally, the worldtimer complication was to be expected.
The basics of the Frederique Constant Highlife are kept intact in this new Worldtimer Manufacture edition. The overall design, that of a tonneau-shaped case characterised by half-moon facets located near the strap attachment and a thin circular bezel framing a large dial opening, is still present in this new version. Modern, dynamic but not too sporty either, the Highlife fits well within the brand’s collection of classic designs, yet adds a contemporary option that was somehow missing.
The new Frederique Constant Highlife Worldtimer retains the same proportions as all other men’s models, meaning a 41mm case. The overall height has been slightly increased to accommodate the new movement, and now sits at 12.90mm. Made of stainless steel, it retains the same combination of brushed surfaces with polished accents, found on the bezel and the sides of the case. Simple, clean and modern, the case wears nicely on the wrist. It is equipped with sapphire crystals on both sides and is water-resistant to 50 metres. A good point (and the benefit of having in-house developed movements), there are no additional pushers in the case, as all adjustments are done by the crown.
Retaining the classic globe-like pattern of the other models, the new Highlife Worldtimer Manufacture adds some complications in the shape of the classic worldtimer display found in other collections. As such, it comes with central hours, minutes, and seconds hands for the local time. Time is read by the mean of faceted and polished applied markers, and all elements feature Super-LumiNova inserts.
Moving towards the periphery, we find a two-tone 24-hour disc, with day (white) & night (blue) indications. This rotating indication, the main element of the worldtimer complication, is adjusted by the crown together with the local time (position 2 of the crown). Also, interestingly, there’s a pointer date indication at 6 o’clock and the 24-hour disc revolves under this sub-dial. A simple yet clever and quite cool feature. Finally, there’s a rotating city disc on the periphery of the dial, with the 24 main time zones around the globe.
Under the sapphire caseback is the FC-718 manufacture calibre, designed, produced and assembled in the brand’s Geneva-based facilities. This automatic movement beats at a 4Hz frequency and stores up to 38 hours of power reserve when fully wound. It is decorated with circular Geneva stripes, perlage, blued screws and a large, opened rotor that is gold-coloured. As said, the crown is used to set all functions; hours, minutes, the date at 6 o’clock and the 24 cities disc that represents 24 time zones on Earth.
Like most other watches in the collection, the Frederique Constant Highlife Worldtimer Manufacture is versatile and can adapt to most situations. It features a clever and well-built interchangeability system, allowing to change between straps and bracelet without tools, in a matter of seconds. This new traveller’s edition comes equipped with a 3-link polished and brushed integrated bracelet with a folding clasp as well as two additional straps, one in blue nubuck leather and one in blue rubber. Both come with their own pin buckle.
Availability & Price
The Frederique Constant Highlife Worldtimer Manufacture (ref. FC-718N4NH6B) is released now and is part of the permanent collection. It retails for EUR 3,795. For more details and orders, please visit frederiqueconstant.com.
This post first appeared on Monochrome Watches - An online magazine dedicated to fine watches.