Frederique Constant unveils a technological breakthrough in the field of precision timekeeping.
Marking a world premiere, Frederique Constant presents a silicon oscillator beating at an unprecedented pace of 288,000 vibrations per hour, or 40 Hz. Redefining the principles of mechanical watch regulation, the Slimline Monolithic Manufacture ticks ten times faster than most mechanical movements. Thanks to its innovative design and reduced size, this revolutionary high-frequency silicon oscillator fits inside a traditional movement configuration. The 40mm Slimline Monolithic Manufacture is the proud recipient of this groundbreaking oscillator, the first watch in the world to boast a 40Hz frequency combined with a price that reflects the brand’s commitment to accessible luxury.
The Genesis – A Collaboration with Flexous
The idea behind the Monolithic Oscillator was born 3 years ago during an encounter between Peter Stas, co-founder and former CEO of Frederique Constant, and Dr Nima Tolou, founder and CEO of Flexous, an independent innovative horology-oriented technology branch of YES!Delft specialising in compliant or flexible mechanisms. Following their encounter, the Frederique Constant team commissioned Flexous with the production of a unique, flexible oscillating system. The technical mandates were clear: a size comparable to that of a traditional balance; the highest possible frequency; an 80-hour power reserve; and a cost-effective formula allowing the manufacture of significant quantities at a reasonable price.
A Revolution in Precision Timekeeping – The Monolithic Oscillator
With the Slimline Monolithic Manufacture, Frederique Constant replaces the 26 components of a standard assortment with a single component fitted with two regulation weights. Thanks to a new geometry of flexures and masses, the size of the oscillator (9.8mm diameter x 0.3mm thickness) was substantially reduced to match for the first time that of a conventional regulator. Another factor that kept the dimensions in check and create an ultrathin oscillator and to keep all functions in one thin silicon layer was the integration of the anchor system in the flexures. The third innovation responds to the adjustment weights used to regulate the flexure oscillator (just like the system used in a traditional free-sprung balance), a feature that allows watchmakers to fine-tune the frequency with exceptional ease.
The oscillator is made of monocrystalline silicon, a material that eliminates key weaknesses of traditional sprung balances. Monocrystalline silicon is 100% anti-magnetic, resilient to oscillations in temperature, less sensitive to gravity and four times lighter than a regular assortment. The absence of mechanical coupling means a lower generation of friction and wear on the parts. Consequently, less power is needed to drive the escapement wheel and the oscillating system. Finally, yet importantly, silicon does not require lubrication, which enhances the long-term reliability of the escapement.
The 30th Movement from Frederique Constant’s Manufacture
Because a traditional gear train cannot cope with the breakneck speed of a 40Hz regulator, Frederique Constant’s watchmakers designed a new base movement - automatic calibre FC-810. Capable of performing with the speed of the new silicon oscillator, the calibre also delivers a substantial 80-hour power reserve.
The Frederique Constant Slimline Monolithic Manufacture, a three-hand with pointer date, is the first model to bear this groundbreaking oscillator. Presented in a 40mm round case, the new watch features an elegant, classic dial with a guilloché hobnail pattern, printed Roman numerals paired with Breguet-style hands. The pulsating oscillator of the watch is revealed in an aperture at 6 o’clock.
On the reverse side, an exhibition caseback offers an unimpeded view of the automatic FC-810 calibre. Its traditional decoration combines Geneva stripes with perlage, and the oscillating weight is openworked.
The model is available in three limited editions: 810 pieces in stainless steel with blue dial and 810 pieces in stainless steel with a silver colour dial with a retail price of EUR 4,495 and 81 pieces in 18k pink gold retailing for EUR 14,995.
About Flexous Mechanisms
Flexous Mechanisms is an independent horology technology company specialized in the design and development of flexible watch parts with the focus on mechanical watches. Flexous was founded in 2012 in Delft, The Netherlands, as a spin-off of an internationally leading group in the field of flexible mechanisms at Delft University of Technology. We develop and produce custom-made innovative watch parts from concept to product. Working together with like-minded watch brands and watch part producers, we bridge the fields of traditional watch making and 21st century flexible mechanism design. We strive to become the most forward-thinking innovative technology provider in horology. Our vision is to eventually provide flexible watch parts for the main components in a watch and set new world boundaries for accuracy, precision, and runtime with a highly innovative approach.