The Frederique Constant Power Reserve Big Date sports the brand’s 31st in-house calibre

The Frederique Constant Power Reserve Big Date sports the brand’s 31st in-house calibre

D.C. Hannay

There comes a point in many collectors’ journeys when they dip their toe into the rarefied waters of high horology. To be clear, I’m not talking about going fullbore into six-figure pieces, but rather, there’s a moment when the curious among us become interested in more complicated watches, and ones that feature truly in-house movements. The Frederique Constant Manufacture Classic Power Reserve Big Date was seemingly built for that exact moment. Look past the lengthy model name, and you’ll find that the watch’s ingredients blend into a satisfying dish at a surprisingly approachable price. Let’s dig in, shall we?

The case

FREDERIQUE CONSTANT Classic Power Reserve Big Date Manufacture SILVER WRIST

This latest addition to the Manufacture line continues the aesthetic lineage of many of the models that have gone before, such as the Classic Heartbeat and Tourbillon models, with a clean case design that features all-over mirror polishing. The 40mm diameter stays proportional to the 12.19mm case height, which, while not the thinnest, is perfectly reasonable for a timepiece with these specific complications, which we’ll get into momentarily. The lugs are broad enough to visually support the case diameter, but compact enough to wear with relative ease. The onion crown shows off some finely sculpted edges, one of my favourite details.

The most impressive feature of this case is one that you probably won’t even notice, at least not right away. There are no pushers of any kind to disrupt those immaculate lines, not even a recessed one. In fact, all the watch’s functions are controlled via the crown. Available case materials include stainless steel, rose gold, and even platinum. Not that you’d jump into the Trevi fountain wearing it, but the case is water resistant to 50 metres for the steel version, and 30 for the precious metal variants.

The dial

FREDERIQUE CONSTANT Classic Power Reserve Big Date Manufacture PLATINUM DIAL

The dial is the most obvious star of the watch, and there’s quite a bit going on. You’ll notice the big date display right away, typically found on high end pieces from the likes of Lange, sitting between two and three. The placement isn’t out of the ordinary for a big date display, and it allows the indices at two and three to remain at full length. A big date display also requires two date wheels, so that’s also a consideration. Next, you’ll see a gorgeous moon phase display at six, with the moon and stars colour-matched to the case material. Finally at nine, you’ll find the power reserve indicator, with the hand also colour-matched to the case.

The alpha hands and diamond-cut applied indices lend another level of refinement to an already attractive face, offered in four different versions. The steel models are available with either blue or silver sunray dials, while the rose gold version gets a smoldering dark grey. The platinum edition takes things up several notches, offering a blue meteorite dial, with all the jaw-dropping reflection and refraction that follows.mete

The movement

FREDERIQUE CONSTANT Classic Power Reserve Big Date Manufacture MOVEMENT

For a Swiss brand that’s only been around for 35 years, Frederique Constant has produced a rather astonishing 31 different movements. That’s a new movement for nearly every year of their existence. So if you’re venturing down the rabbit hole of in-house movements for the first time, the Reference FC-735 is a great place to start. Features include 32 jewells, a beat rate of 28,800 VpH, and a 50-hour power reserve, which, of course, you can easily track using the display on the dial. And it looks great, especially at the price of admission, with a gold openworked rotor, blued screws, and some well-executed perlage and Côtes de Genève finishing. Let’s face it: many big-name Swiss brands are using off-the-shelf movements in watches at the same price point (or even higher ones) than the steel version of the Frederique Constant. For a luxury timepiece, there’s a surprising amount of value on display here.

The strap

FREDERIQUE CONSTANT Classic Power Reserve Big Date Manufacture GOLD

Frederique Constant keeps things conservative with its strap choices for the Manufacture range of models, and why wouldn’t they? Alligator leather is a classic choice, with all versions getting a deep blue strap, apart from the rose gold version, which opts for a rich brown. A matching folding buckle completes the package.

The verdict

FREDERIQUE CONSTANT Classic Power Reserve Big Date Manufacture BLUE WRIST

Climbing up the horological ladder can be intimidating, especially for young collectors, but if you’re ready to venture into the world of in-house movements and complications, the Manufacture Classic Power Reserve Big Date is a fine place to start, especially in steel. There’s little else at the price that can compete, and it’s a classically handsome design that will remain, ahem, timeless. As far as making a statement, the platinum and meteorite edition is nothing less than a proclamation that you’ve arrived in the big leagues, far more than flexing some above-retail FOMO piece. Welcome to the party.

Frederique Constant Classic Power Reserve Big Date Manufacture pricing and availability

The Frederique Constant Manufacture Classic Power Reserve Big Date is available now. The steel models are regular production, whereas the precious metal models are limited to 350 pieces in 18k rose gold and 35 pieces in platinum. Price: US$4,995 (steel), US$19,995 (18k rose gold), US$27,995 (platinum).

Brand Frederique Constant
Model Classic Power Reserve Big Date Manufacture
Reference Number FC-735N3H6
Case Dimensions 40mm (D) x 12.19 (T)
Case Material Stainless steel, 18k rose gold, platinum
Water Resistance 50 metres (steel)
30 metres (precious metals)
Crystal(s) Sapphire front and back
Dial Silver or blue (steel)
Grey (18k rose gold)
Navy meteorite (platinum)
Bracelet Blue or brown alligator leather, folding case-matching buckle
Movement FC-735, in-house, automatic, crown-operated functions
Power Reserve 50 hours
Functions Hours, minutes, seconds, power reserve, big date, moonphase
Availability Regular production (steel)
350 pieces (18k rose gold)
35 pieces (platinum)
Price US$4,995 (steel)
US$19,995 (18k rose gold)
US$27,995 (platinum)