Tested for you: The Frederique Constant Flyback Chrono
This summer, I spent considerable time testing one of my favorite pieces from Baselworld 2017. After over a month with the watch, I’ve reviewed my experience. This is Tested for you.
For over two decades, Frederique Constant has been delivering quality, Swiss-Made watches at accessible price points. I’ve had the chance to visit the manufacture in Plan-les-Ouates and a few months ago, interviewed FC’s CEO Peter Stas. What’s always struck me about FC is their approach to watchmaking. Sure, they make quality Quartz pieces, but in recent years, they’ve been introducing some very respectable in-house manufacture pieces.
Creating not just an elegant chronograph, but adding a Flyback mechanism that rounds out a very solid offering
For example, 2016’s Manufacture Perpetual Calendar. Fellow journalists and collectors were shocked that FC could deliver a perpetual calendar for under $10,000 (current price 8,350CHF).
This year, FC has taken up another challenge, creating not just an elegant chronograph, but adding a Flyback mechanism that rounds out a very solid offering. At Watchonista’s Basel appointment, when I was presented the watch, I just stared for a few minutes, and then asked the price. When we were given the answer of “Under $4,000 regardless of configuration” I was blown away. I ended up staying behind as the rest of our team headed out of the booth, I just couldn’t bear to give the watch back. I wasn’t sure what struck me more, the watch’s design, or the price point. Either way, I knew I had to have it.
I’ll be honest, I’m writing this piece from a vantage point of extreme bias. I genuinely love this watch, so it’s going to be hard for me to be 100% objective. After I returned home from Basel, the first email I sent was to FC’s PR team. I had to get more time with the Flyback.
The one thing I’ve respected about FC’s product strategy is that nearly all their novelties are available shortly after announcement. They make enough pieces to satisfy demand and generally, you’ll be able to find your desired watch within a month or so after launch.
The one thing I like about FC’s product strategy is that nearly all their novelties are available shortly after announcement
In typical FC fashion, the watch was delivered to me within a month of Basel. I was lent the Rose Gold version of the Flyback Chrono with a brown alligator strap. The 42mm case fit my small wrists nicely and while the case is a plated rose gold, it’s still a dignified dress watch.
Flyback chronographs were first invented for pilots. From my research, I found the flyback function was included on a watch from Breitling in 1923, but later patented by Longines in 1936. The principle idea behind the flyback chrono is the ability to start and reset the chrono without stopping the actual timing. Let’s say, on the off chance you’re timing a race, and you want to time each lap by seconds and minutes, but still need to keep track of the overall elapsed time, at the end of the elapsed event sequence you can simply hit the reset button to return the chrono hand to the 12 o’clock position where it will immediately begin the timing again.
In today’s digital age, many of us time events with our phones, me included. As watch geeks, we must respect watchmaking’s various complications for what they are, a nod to a simpler time. Many of these functions were advanced technology purpose-built for a job or function. Much like an app on your phone.
For a watch at this price point, this is unheard of
The watch is fitted with FC’s in-house 760 caliber. Which is an automatic movement, with a date sub-dial (a 6 o’clock), and approx. 38hrs of power reserve. If you look closely, you’ll see FC’s attention to detail, the Perlage and Côtes de Genève finishing on the mainplate, bridges, and rotor were a very nice touch. For a watch at this price point, this is unheard of.
In testing the watch’s flyback mechanism, the chronograph pushers were smooth and reliable. The click feels very deliberate and solid and when the chrono hand started moving, I found myself gazing for a second or two.
Now that we’ve gotten the mechanics out of the way, let’s talk about the pure aesthetics of the watch. The silvered dial has a starburst quality rounded out with rose gold applied indexes. The contrast of dial to case was just brilliant. The hands? Well they’re rose gold as well, but get this, hand polished! The dial has a sophistication and balance that you don’t normally see at this price point. Many have noted that the brand may have taken design cues from Vacheron Constantin. While they may be right (FC didn’t verify), you can’t fault good design.
From a wear ability standpoint, you can dress this watch up or down
From a wearability standpoint, you can dress this watch up or down. It looks great under a suit, and with the right clothing combination, you could even wear it on the weekend with a t-shirt and jeans. After a month of wear, the brown alligator strap broke in nicely and developed a silky quality that hugged my wrist nicely. The deployant clasp was rigid and secure, and I had no problems resizing the strap.
Overall, this watch ticks all the boxes for me. It was very delightful to wear, performed well under daily testing, and turned a few heads when I wore it out and about. When showing the watch around New York’s various watch scenes, the feedback was nothing but positive.
The watch is a solid daily-wear piece at a price point that’s accessible for many novice and seasoned collectors
The remarkable effort that FC put into the creation of this watch really comes through. The watch is a solid daily-wear piece at a price point that’s accessible for many novice and seasoned collectors. Once I gather the appropriate funds, I’ll be calling FC again to add this piece to my collection.
At press time, The Rose Gold Manufacture Flyback Chrono on a brown alligator strap is priced at 3,995 CHF. While the Stainless Steel with Black Alligator Strap is priced at 3,695 CHF.