Hello everyone, and welcome to another Singaporean article! On this shiok Saturday, I’ll be sharing with you guys my latest watch acquisition – the Frederique Constant Classic Manufacture Moonphase.
This is part of a new series whereby I share with readers my latest watch acquisitions, my reasons for the purchases, and illustrate my watch collecting philosophy in general. The inspiration for this series actually came from a reader, who suggested that I share my collecting journey with readers, which would give Wah So Shiok a more personal touch.
Without further ado, here are 5 reasons why I decided to pull the trigger on the Frederique Constant Classic Manufacture Moonphase!
Frederique Constant Classic Moonphase – Video Review
For those who would like to see some hands-on footage of the watch, do check out my Youtube video below!
1) Frederique Constant as a brand
Let’s be real – most watch enthusiasts scoff at Frederique Constant watches because of the name on the dial. Many feel that the brand lacks heritage and innovative designs, and as such their releases often don’t get the attention that releases from comparably priced brands (such as Longines) do.
I feel the complete opposite. Founded in 1988 in the aftermath of the Quartz Crisis, Frederique Constant was established to offer traditional Swiss fine watchmaking at an accessible price. While the phrase “affordable luxury” is nothing more than a marketing cliché nowadays, it actually applies to Frederique Constant. Their lineup consists of a tourbillion perpetual calendar, a perpetual calendar, a flyback chronograph, a worldtimer, and a moonphase complication – all featuring in-house Swiss movements, and at prices that substantially undercuts their Swiss competitors.
However, Frederique Constant does more than simply offer bang-for-buck watches – the brand genuinely pushes the envelop when it comes to watchmaking. A great example of the brand’s innovation is their Frederique Constant Hybrid Manufacture, which combines an in-house Swiss mechanical movement with smartwatch capabilities such as activity tracking, sleep tracking, fitness coaching, and more. Users can also view the watch’s analytics (accuracy rate, amplitude, beat error, etc) via the Frederique Constant smartphone application. In an industry where slimmer lugs are regarded as innovation (cough, Rolex Submariner 2020, cough), it bewilders me how such groundbreaking progress by Frederique Constant flies under the radar.
2) In-house movements
While Frederique Constant is a relatively young brand, the Maison has been offering in-house movements since 2004. This is no small feat, given that most watch brands (Tudor, Hublot, Montblanc, Baume & Mercier, Oris, Tag Heuer, Panerai, and more) only introduced their own in-house movements in the last few years. Currently, Frederique Constant offers an astounding 15 different in-house movements, all of which are designed, manufactured, and assembled in their Plan-les-Ouates manufacturing facility in Switzerland. Most of these movements are incredibly complicated, with the brand offering in-house movements with moonphase, worldtimer, flyback chronograph, perpetual calendar, and even tourbillon complications. Even esteemed brands such as Patek Philippe and Rolex only introduced in-house chronograph movements fairly recently – a testament to the technical complexity behind manufacturing such complicated movements in-house.
Furthermore, Frederique Constant’s in-house movements often simplify the complication, making it easier for the user to operate. For example, one can set the moonphase via one pull of the crown, instead of accessing a separate button (which requires an additional tool) that you might find on moonphase watches from JLC and Patek Philippe. The same applies to the Frederique Constant Worldtimer, which allows the wearer to adjust the worldtimer complication from the crown.
The movements are relatively well decorated too, with much of the decoration done by hand. This includes engraving, the application of the circular Côtes de Genève pattern, perlage, rhodiage, and heat-blued screws, just to name a few. It’s a pretty backside, that’s for sure.
3) The moonphase complication
Since we are on the topic of movements, a big reason why I chose this specific model was due to its moonphase complication.
For the uninitiated, the moonphase complication shows the 29.5-day lunar cycle by exhibiting the current moonphase in an aperture on the dial. It’s a whimsical complication, one that doesn’t have much practical use in everyday life – unless you’re a werewolf, who needs to know the exact phase of the moon? It’s a rare complication as well. I have owned over 100 watches in my lifetime, and I never had a moonphase watch. It’s not exactly a common complication, both amongst microbrand watches as well as the affordable “big” brands. It is definitely one of the most beautiful complications out there, and I find myself mesmerized every time I stare at the dial. It’s gorgeous.
4) The classical design
The Frederique Constant Classic Manufacture Moonphase has been described as a Patek watch for those without Patek pockets. In particular, many reviewers noted the similarity to the highly sought after Patek reference 2438. While some might cite this as further evidence that Frederique Constant lacks its own distinctive design language, I have no issues with the brand drawing inspiration from one of the best dress watches ever produced. Dress watches are best kept classical, and there’s a timeless element to the looks of the Frederique Constant Classic Manufacture Moonphase that will stand the test of time.
As compared to the Frederique Constant Slimline Moonphase (which was the other model I was looking at) I find the Classic Manufacture Moonphase to possess more character. I like its sunburst texture, the applied indices, the polished dauphine hands, and the officer’s caseback. In comparison, the Slimline Moonphase felt too minimalist for my tastes. Also, the Classic Manufacture Moonphase is smaller at 40.5mm (the Slimline Moonphase has a 42mm case diameter) and wears better on my Asian 7 inch wrist.
While Frederique Constant watches already have a very reasonable MSRP – this particular Classic Manufacture Moonphase had a MSRP of about S$5000 – they can often be had for a song in the grey and pre-owned market. I purchased this watch pre-owned (mint condition, with box and papers) for S$2000, from a seller who got the watch from the grey market for S$2500.
At that price point, the Frederique Constant Classic Manufacture Moonphase was a no-brainer for me. I don’t think there’s any Swiss in-house watches with a moonphase complication for anything close to S$2000. In terms of being a value proposition, the only comparable dress watch would perhaps be Nomos and their Tangente line – the Nomos Tangente (with the manual winding Alpha caliber) can also be found for about ~S$2000 pre-owned. While the Nomos Tangente does feature a more distinctive design, it is ultimately merely a time-only manual winder, which pales in comparison to the automatic in-house moonphase movement found on the Classic Manufacture Moonphase. It’s also not Swiss-made, which I know is a deal-breaker to a lot of watch enthusiasts. In terms of value, Frederique Constant is simply unbeatable especially when it comes to the pre-owned and grey markets.
I absolutely adore my Frederique Constant Classic Manufacture Moonphase, which is now my dress watch of choice. I’ve worn it for about a month now, and have gotten numerous compliments for it – it was even once mistaken for the (much more expensive) JLC Ultra-thin Moon. It’s a thinking man’s watch, a choice that provides outstanding value when considered objectively and relative to other similarly priced offerings. If you’re a younger watch enthusiast who’s looking to dip his toes into the world of traditional Swiss watchmaking, Frederique Constant is a great and affordable way to start your watch collecting journey.
For those interested, I also did a similar article on my purchase of the IWC Mark XVII – you can read it here.
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wahsoshiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned.
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P.S.S.S Shiok is a common word Singaporeans use to express admiration or approval. As of 2016, you can find the definition of the word in the Oxford English Dictionary.