Frederique Constant Slimline is a relatively new watchmaker, but over the last three decades, the brand has consistently grown stronger, always coming up with attractive luxury watch models.
This article will take a closer look at the company, and center on its watch collections. Whether this is your first time reading about the brand, or if you’re thinking of purchasing your first Frederique Constant watch, this piece will let you in on some of the most important things that you need to know.
Frederique Constant Slimlinewas founded in 1988 by couple Aletta Francoise Frédérique Stas-Bax and Peter Constant Stas. The company is named as such because the founders took the names of their great grandparents and combined them (Frédérique Schreiner and Constant Stas).
The company may not be as old compared to its other Swiss watch company counterparts—most of which have been operating for more than a century—but the company proved that they are also experts in watchmaking since their inception. According to reports, the company’s production by 2011 reached 120,000, with watches being sold in more than a hundred countries.
In 2016, Japanese watchmaker and electronics brand Citizen acquired the company. The Citizen Holding Group also owns Bulova, Arnold & Son, Alpina and CAMPANOLA
Not all high-complications come with equally high price tags. With the Slimline Manufacture Perpetual Calendar, Frederique Constant is offering a stainless steel perpetual calendar for under $9,000. In some ways it’s a classic QP and in other ways it breaks with tradition, but if you’re someone who’s always wanted to sport a perpetual calendar but balked at the BMW-level cost, you should definitely take a closer look at this watch.
Frederique Constant Slimline is a watchmaker with something of a cult following. It’s made affordable complicated watches in the past (this worldtimer is a perfect example), but really shines making contemporary dress watches that have familiar looks without too many frills. They’re the kind of watches that sometimes might not catch your eye immediately but once you notice them you can’t help but keep looking. And, in case you missed the news, Frederique Constant was recently acquired by Citizen, making it a Japanese-owned Swiss manufacture.
The dial looks exactly like what you’d expect from a basic perpetual. Starting at the top of the dial and going clockwise, there’s a nested register for the month and year in the leap year cycle, the date, a blue and silver moonphase, and the day of the week. The printing is crisp and inky black on the silver grained ground and the applied hour markers add just enough shine to keep the dial from looking flat.
Powering all of this is Frederique Constant’s own caliber FC-755. It’s an automatic movement with a 38-hour power reserve and what I’d call average decoration on the plates, bridges, and rotor. It’s not an over-the-top haute horlogerie movement, but it is functional and packs a lot into a relatively affordable package.
The perpetual calendar functions are adjusted with little pushers set into the caseband (you should probably use a plastic pin included with the watch, though a springbar tool will do in a pinch). This is all pretty standard and won’t come as a surprise to anyone familiar with QPs.
Despite the name, the Slimline is actually a much larger watch than most classic perpetual calendars. At 42mm across and 10.2mm thick (including the domed sapphire crystal), it’s a substantive ticker. The case does taper toward the wrist, but it still doesn’t have the same elegant profile that you’re used to with watches this style. I will say that it wears a lot nicer than I expected and doesn’t have the top-heavy feeling I expected – sure, I wish this watch was 38mm or 40mm, but c’est la vie. Also, I give Frederique Constant credit for using an appropriately sized movement, so the registers aren’t squished to the center of an otherwise expansive dial.
There’s no question that price is extremely important when it comes to evaluating this watch. Is it on par with perpetuals from the likes of Patek Philippe or Vacheron Constantin? No way. But it’s less than $9,000. Even the previous king of “budget” stainless steel perpetual calendars – the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra-Thin Perpetual – is more than double that. The JLC is thin, has a seriously high-tech movement, and is, in my not-so-humble opinion, the best everyday perpetual calendar out there today (especially with the new black dial). Montblanc made a steel perpetual for under $13,000, but now you’re limited to a $6,800 annual calendar instead. So if you’re looking for a perpetual calendar under $10,000, this is almost certainly your best bet (and it’s a pretty good one at that).