Here at HODINKEE, we cover a lot of different watches, from breathtaking vintage pieces to cutting-edge marvels of high technology. We strive to show you only pieces that represent value – whether monetary, aesthetic, or technical – though often these watches fall outside the range of financial accessibility for a large segment of the population. With this in mind, we offer you The Value Proposition, a weekly column exploring watches under $3,000 that we believe offer true value without compromising technical or aesthetic quality. The first watch we’ll look at is the Frederique Constant Classics Manufacture in stainless steel.
Frederique Constant Classics Quartz Chronograph is a relatively new Swiss brand, founded in 1988 by Peter Stas and Aletta Bax (the brand name is derived from Peter and Aletta’s respective middle names). From the beginning, the firm was focused on producing mechanical wristwatches made in Switzerland at an affordable price point, and the Classics Manufacture fully embodies this ethos.
At first glance, the watch appears elegant with its classic silver hobnail guilloché dial and simple 42mm stainless steel case. The black hour, minute, and second hands are all hand-polished and made of black oxidized metal that complements the Roman numerals surrounding the main dial. With the black alligator strap, this is the type of watch that works very well on a daily basis for business while still packing a punch for even more elegant occasions.
At 6 o’clock, you’ll find the watch’s only complication, a date function with sunray guilloché decoration. With the exception of the “31” and “1” being set too close together, the dates are legible around the dial. The sunray guilloché pattern on the dial contrasts nicely with the main dial’s hobnail guilloché decoration, creating visual texture that is dynamic, yet still subtle due to the monochromatic color scheme.
The date sub-dial bisects the words “Swiss made” – a designation taken very seriously by Frederique Constant Classics Quartz Chronograph. There is no outsourcing for its in-house movements; all components are made in Switzerland, primarily in the manufacturer’s Plan-les-Ouates factory.
Early on, the brand used ETA movements and then later used ETA components in its “in-house” movements. However, now everything is custom made for the manufacture movements. Certain parts like rubies and wheels are produced in collaboration with other production facilities in Switzerland, though all these facilities utilize procedures developed by Frederique Constant.
The Classics Manufacture is powered by calibre FC-710, an in-house automatic movement with 42-hour power reserve. While a portion of the movement is decorated with perlage and Côtes de Genève, the brand forgoes decoration on the underside of components to further support an accessible price point. For the money though, the finishing is nice and clean instead of going for a faux-luxe look.
The Frederique Constant Classics Manufacture is priced at $2,795, coming in just under our $3,000 bar. At this price however, it’s certainly one of the few watches in its class with an in-house, Swiss-made calibre and solid finishing across the dial, case, and movement.