For years, Frederique Constant have been quietly making elegant, understated watches at good values. Here, then, is the new Frederique Constant Slimline Moonphase Manufacture watch, which joins the in-house caliber portfolio near the top of the range. Frederique Constant isn’t holding back in showing how they value in-house-made movements with high-end finishing, and it doesn’t hurt that this one comes in an attractive package.
The FC-705 is a movement developed completely in-house, made in-house, and assembled in-house. The case back is an exhibition type, so that you can see and enjoy the perlage and Côtes de Genève stripes. Unfortunately, we don’t have a case back shot to share right now, but when we get one we will make sure to do that. That being said, this is a solid, elegant watch with an in-house movement that comes in at just under $4,000.
The FC-705 is a 26-jewel movement that runs at 28,800 vph. It displays hours, minutes, the date, and moonphase, and all complications are adjustable by the crown, without the need of a separate pusher. The power reserve is 42 hours, which is about the norm for a 4Hz watch movement. It’s a 6.2mm-thin movement, something it shares with the FC-7 family of movements – except the Worldtimer, which is thicker, and the FC-755 used in the Moonphase Perpetual Calendar watch, Frederique Constant’s only other moonphase complication, is thicker at 7mm as well.
The dial of the Frederique Constant Slimline Moonphase Manufacture is an ivory sunray-colored affair, with silver applied indices. The moonphase is ringed with a date counter, and painted in a rich cobalt blue, placed at the six o’clock position. The minute hand reaches to the edge of the dial, making for a lovely thin watch to wear and look at, all housed in a 42mm stainless steel case you won’t have trouble fitting under the cuffs of your shirtsleeves.
As noted, Frederique Constant has made moonphase watches before, as in their Slimline Perpetual Calendar Manufacture (hands-on here). While the perpetual calendar is a big achievement in the hierarchy of what we can call “prestige complications,” another of the challenges the best watchmakers attempt is striving for the ultimate in thinness. While FC has made slimlines, moonphases, and perpetual calendars, it’s the skill required to make the Frederique Constant Slimline Moonphase Manufacture, and the resulting classic colors and design that together get our attention. The Frederique Constant Slimline Moonphase Manufacture FC-705BG6S6
This isn’t going to be a typical review, because this is a watch I made myself. Given that little fact, and some added personalization, I have special feelings toward this Frederique Constant Slimline Moonphase watch. So, what I will do in this review is discuss the timepiece itself and then some of the qualities that make it different from what you can buy. That more or less means you aren’t going to be able to make one yourself, unless you are really, really lucky.
In the late Spring of 2013, I traveled with an audience member to Frederique Constant in Geneva in order to build a watch. This was the result of a giveaway we did in December of 2012, which promised that one lucky person would travel with me to Geneva to learn how to build a watch and take the result home with them. In fact, the winner Andrew even wrote an article here on his experience. So, with that in mind, let’s talk about the Manufacture Slimline Moonphase watch that I happen to know rather well inside and out.
The Frederique Constant Manufacture Slimline Moonphase combines a lot of great elements in one timepiece. First, it is elegant and dressy. Second, it is modern in its size. Third, it is relatively slim for an automatic watch. Fourth, it contains an in-house made automatic movement. And fifth, relatively speaking, it is quite affordably priced. Together, that makes for rather nice argument when posing a Manufacture Slimline watch (Moonphase version or otherwise) against the competition.
At 42mm wide, it can be said that the Slimline Moonphase wears large (which is a good thing in my opinion) due to the rather slim bezel. However, the more conservatively spaced lugs allow it to wear in traditional manner. So, all in all, it balances out to a solidly “42mm wide” looking case. I wouldn’t call Slimline Moonphase “ultra slim” because it is not. The case is 11.3mm thick, but it happens to wear very low on the wrist. Part of this is due to the bowl-like design of the case where it is thicker in the middle but slimmer toward the edges.
Design-wise, the slightly unique case is matched to an elegant dial, no doubt inspired by some of last century’s most iconic dress watches. While the dial feels familiar, it is also very approachable and familiar looking. A lot of that has to do with the thin needle-style hands and applied baton hour markers. They are legible, but create a great sense of open space on the dial due to their slim sizes. Breaking up the simplicity of the face is a date indicator subdial that includes a moonphase indicator. If there is anything else I could ask for on the dial, it would be a day of the week and month indicator via small windows under the Frederique Constant logo to make this a lovely triple date moonphase dial.
Inside the watch is Frederique Constant’s in-house made and designed caliber FC-705 automatic movement. The movement is essentially the Frederique Constant caliber FC-710 (inside the Classics Manufacture watch reviewed here) with a moonphase and without the central seconds hand. The movement operates at 4Hz (28,800 bph) with 42 hours of power reserve. In fact, this family of movements is perhaps the least expensive Swiss Made calibers produced within the area of Geneva.
You can see the movement through the rear of the case via the sapphire crystal exhibition caseback. The case is only water resistant to 30 meters, and I’d like to see that be at least 50 meters personally. With the skeletonized rotor and mostly-symmetrical bridge design, it is a very attractive movement. Note that my watch is a bit different because the central bridge has a different finish and has my initials engraved in it. What we did was have a master engraver in central Geneva take away time from doing a hand-engraved dial for one of the “top brands” and spend a few moments engraving our initials in a cursive font on the brass bridges. They were then rhodium-plated like the rest of the movement.
To be honest, it took a lot of skill to put the movement together properly. We had the best of help from Frederique Constant’s head watchmaker, Pim Koeslag, but managed to do silly things like lose tiny parts as they jettisoned away from our tweezers or got magnetized by accident. When you are mostly done it is time to regulate the movements. That means you first have to test to see how accurate they are (the rate results), and then you have to try and adjust them. In the end, my Manufacture Slimline Moonphase watch ended up being within chronometric performance–so I was rather happy.
When I produced this particular version of the Slimline Moonphase watch in 2013, it was not available in most of the world. There was a blue and steel model, and a rose gold-plated model and white dial, but none quite like this, save for a small limited edition set for Russia. As of 2014, Frederique Constant decided to produce this rose-gold plated and blue dialed version of the Manufacture Slimline Moonphase watch an exclusive, limited production piece for the Americas.This version will come on a blue alligator strap with blue instead off-white stitching, and no more than 400 pieces will be produced, only available through authorized retailers in North and South America. So this particular piece was made before that decision was made. Though knowing somewhat in advance that these would be available, I wanted to hold off on writing the review until people could get one.
Rose gold-plated not enough for you? Frederique Constant even offers a full 18k rose gold version of the Slimline Moonphase. Overall, this a modern-sized dress watch with some attractive details and desirable set of complications–especially for the money. The versatility of the design makes it suitable for a range of occasions, and it is also the type of watch that does not go out of style, but rather remains timeless when it is needed. Perhaps it isn’t something for daily wear given its more formal appearance, but it is the type of watch I am proud to have in my collection. More so, I am proud to someday pass this watch on to someone else (ideally an heir) who I can share the story of it with, given that my own hands went into its construction. Prices for the Frederique Constant Manufacture Slimline Moonphase watch