Despite a relatively young 32-year brand history, Frédérique Constant Highlife Automatic has built a rich and varied back catalog of models throughout its run. One of the proudest nameplates in the marque’s history is the Highlife collection, originally launched in 1999 as a new integrated bracelet flagship for the company. While the Highlife would go on to become one of the most distinctive and influential models in the brand’s history, the Highlife collection has faded into the archives of Frederique Constant in the past few years. As part of its 2020 novelties, Frédérique Constant Highlife Automatic has unveiled a new generation of Highlife watches, featuring streamlined new integrated case designs, dramatically etched dials, and refined, dependable movement work including Frederique Constant’s first ever COSC certified chronometer watch. Not one but three new models have been announced, including the Frederique Constant Highlife Perpetual Calendar Manufacture, the Frédérique Constant Highlife Automatic Heart Beat, and the Frederique Constant Highlife Automatic COSC. We’ll be taking a closer in-depth look at the Highlife Heart Beat and Highlife Automatic COSC models here today.
Both new lines share a new 41mm integrated bracelet case in stainless steel. Streamlined and clean with an unguarded pillbox crown and a narrow polished bezel, the main body of the case takes on a smooth, vaguely hexagonal form with fine brushing. The delicate contouring work along the case sides allows the case to flow organically around the wrist, creating a smooth and streamlined continuous curve that is as comfortable as it is attractive. With a design so dedicated to the concept of visual flow, the integration of the lugs into the main body of the case is a must. The smooth, rounded half-moon cutout surrounding the integrated link helps to maintain this sense of flow into the bracelet or strap with an evocative, elegant form.
All new Frédérique Constant Highlife Automatic models are also available with rose gold plating, with variants for the Frederique Constant Highlife Automatic COSC available in a two-tone finish. In addition, the Frederique Constant Highlife Heart Beat and Frederique Constant Highlife Automatic COSC are available with all-over rose gold plated variants. Regardless of the metal used, each new Frederique Constant Highlife provides a striking window into the beating mechanical heart of the watch through a sapphire display caseback.
Like the cases, the dials of the new Highlife series models combine refined modern sports watch cues in exciting and distinctive ways to create a handsome and cohesive whole. All new Highlife series share the same pointed paddle handset with matching indices, but without a doubt, the unifying visual centerpiece for all these new models are the engraved dials. Frederique Constant opts for a stylized globe pattern here, giving the design some geometric depth while differentiating itself from more common tapisserie or striped styles. This pattern is surprisingly adaptable as well, displaying vibrantly on navy blue and black dials while lighter silver dials have this engraving fading elegantly into the background.
From here, the new model lines diverge as each iteration takes on its own character. The simplest and most pure expression is of course the Frédérique Constant Highlife Automatic COSC, with an elemental three-hand design unfettered by complications save for a 3 o’clock date. Unlike many contemporary open heart designs, the Frederique Constant Highlife Heart Beat displays a deft visual balance, with the signature 12 o’clock open heart window counterweighted by the dial text at 6 o’clock. The end result is a brilliant synergy between simple design and the ornate mechanical workmanship within. For the Frederique Constant Highlife Heart Beat, the brand turns to the Sellita SW300-1 based FC-310 automatic movement, chosen for its 12 o’clock balance wheel, steady 38-hour power reserve, and 28,800 bph beat rate. Lastly, Frederique Constant powers the Highlife Automatic COSC with the Sellita SW200-1 based FC-303 automatic movement. This is the first Frederique Constant movement to be chronometer certified by the COSC for accuracy, with a 38-hour power reserve and a 28,800 bph beat rate. Both movements are dramatically crowned with a custom signed gold-tone rotor, finely finished with delicate Côtes de Genève. Naturally, one of the largest selling points for the entire new Frédérique Constant Highlife Automatic series is the smooth integrated design, and without a proper bracelet and strap selection, this sort of design simply isn’t possible. The brand delivers solidly on this front, however, with a wide tapering H-link design that pairs polished center links to brushed surroundings for a dynamic, layered look. For those preferring straps, there’s a tapering padded alligator pattern leather option in either black or a deep tobacco brown.