FREDERIQUE cONSTANT’S MOST EXCLUSIVE CREATION
2023 marks Frederique Constant’s 35th anniversary and the 15th anniversary of its iconic Tourbillon calibre. For the occasion, the Maison has unveiled a Classic Tourbillon Meteorite Manufacture in platinum, featuring a meteorite dial and limited to only 35 pieces. This is an absolute first, as each individual timepiece is entirely finished by hand: an undertaking entrusted to two watchmakers from the Manufacture whose only mission was to achieve the highest degree of hand-finishing possible on the movement.
Movement: the pinnacle of hand-finishing
However, the most important aspects are less immediately visible. Only a closer and more knowledgeable eye will be able to detect something that has never been achieved before on a Frederique Constant watch: the entire hand-finishing of all the components of the movement. This exceptional and unprecedented achievement is the work of two watchmakers specialising in the Maison’s Manufacture and complication movements.
Using traditional instruments and tools, working by hand, they spent weeks on the meticulous finishing of each of the components: a buff file for bevelling, a hammer and punch for hand-punching, and 9-micron sandpaper for charbonnage of the frame (bridge) and the base of the tourbillon cage, reproducing the aspect of the meteorite dial. A single bridge alone requires between two and three days of work.
A harmonious creation
To ensure visual coherence with the colour of the meteorite dial, the movement also sports a ruthenium finish. This is very rare for Frederique Constant, and indeed in the watchmaking industry as a whole – all the more reason for adopting it here. Each engraving, including the timepiece’s individual number (on the tourbillon cage and also on the caseback) is rhodium-plated to ensure the characters stand out clearly. The oscillating weight is made of brass with a tungsten section around the rim. This material has been selected for its density, which is greater than that of 18-carat gold, providing greater inertia when in motion and thus enabling the barrel spring to be wound more quickly. All the parts of the oscillating weight are also coated with ruthenium.
The Classic Tourbillon Meteorite Manufacture comes in a 39mm platinum case. For the first time in its history, Frederique Constant has combined a meteorite dial with this precious metal.
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35 truly unique pieces thanks to the dial
The meteorite dial is a precious testament to exceptional craftsmanship: a fragment of space that fell to Earth in a happy and rare occurrence in Gibeon, Namibia offers a perfect illustration of the relationship between humankind, the universe, and the astronomy of which watchmaking is a direct offshoot. At the same time, this piece of celestial history is also the subject of a veritable exploit in terms of craftsmanship: chiselling a meteorite dial, full of metals, requires exceptional skills.
That’s because the precious material breaks and crumbles; its high iron content means it may have suffered serious deterioration, mainly corrosion. That in turn means extreme dexterity is called for in order to cut out a perfectly flat, smooth disc without a single flake falling off and damaging the movement beneath it. The meteorite dial – just 0.5mm thick – is also protected by a coat of ruthenium, enhancing its natural grey glints and shielding the surface from oxidation.
“The art of watchmaking is our passion, innovation is our mission, the tourbillon is one of the most beautiful interpretations” – Romain Valette, Frederique Constant Watchmaker
made of 81 components
A discreet hand passing above the tourbillon cage marks off the seconds. The cage itself – made of 81 components – is engraved with the individual serial number of the watch, also to be found on the rim of the sapphire caseback. This reveals the inner workings of the FC-980 caliber, to which all the finishings of traditional watchmaking such as bevelling, beading, circular graining, straight-grained flanks and mirror polishing have been applied. The movement has a 38-hour power reserve.
the poweR of youth and its future prospects
While celebrating the past is all well and good, at age 35 Frederique Constant is still a young Manufacture with virtually boundless potential; and so it is that in addition to its main collections, the aim of which is to provide carefully crafted yet affordable watches, the firm has gradually extended its range to include more select timepieces destined for experienced collectors – and the tourbillon is without any doubt one of their most prized complications. As it looks to the future, Frederique Constant is thus seeking to provide ever more sophisticated watchmaking, featuring increasingly delicate aesthetics and constantly revised and enhanced finishes.
Sobriety and refinement
On the dial, purity is the watchword, with applique hour markers and hand-polished golden hands (redesigned to be narrower and longer) gliding over an anthracite grey sun-brushed dial. In addition, the hour markers and hands now feature diamond cut edges, ensuring the brightest gleam possible.
The Classic Tourbillon Manufacture comes on a dark matte brown leather strap sporting a deployment clasp that proudly bears the Frederique Constant coat-of-arms, especially reserved for Manufacture pieces.