Review: Frédérique Constant Slim Line Moonphase
There are a plethora of watch companies out there that do the 'affordable luxury' thing, and some even do it pretty well. Not everybody can afford the likes of Patek Philippe or Vacheron Constantin, but that shouldn't mean that the average Joe can't have a nice, well-made dress watch. If you'd asked me five years ago to recommend a watch that fits this criteria, I might have suggested a Raymond Weil, perhaps an entry-level Cartier, maybe even a Chronoswiss. But now, I'm recommending a Frédérique Constant.
Frédérique Constant was founded in the late Eighties by two young entrepreneurs, Aletta and Peter Stas, who saw an opportunity to make and sell watches without the high mark-ups often seen elsewhere. Their plan wasn't to generate a short-term money-maker; instead they have slowly built a brand from scratch, carving away at their market, fine-tuning their product, and now a pinnacle has been reached that's turned the brand from a passing consideration to a convincing proposition.
And what might that pinnacle be? Every watchmaker's grail: the in-house movement. And a beauty it is too, one you might recognise - that'll be because it was powering the Alpina in the World Timers feature last issue. Frédérique Constant and Alpina are both owned by the Stas', and so they share this in-house engine.
The Frédérique Constant Slim Line Moonphase makes the most of the FC-705 variation of this movement, which offers the time, date and, as you would expect, moonphase. That part of the name is fairly straightforward, but the other, 'Slim Line' - not so much. Perhaps a bit of a faux pas from the marketing department, the Slim Line isn't particularly slim at all, thanks the depth of the movement, even if the cleverly sculpted case and the right camera angle convince the eye otherwise.
But all is not lost: the watch - despite its misleading title - isn't a particularly thick watch either. It's about right, and wears very well for it. Not only that, but its quality categorically belies its price, and details like the capped cannon pinion, the brushed finish on the moonphase disc and, of course, the FC-705 add up to give an impressive bang for the buck.
The introduction of the in-house movement seems to be having the desired effect, because the interest in both Frédérique Constant and Alpina has skyrocketed since. Where much bigger brands dismiss the possibility of developing of an in-house movement because of cost, Frédérique Constant have proven otherwise. The Stas' may have set out twenty-five years ago to make something of 'affordable luxury', but it seems that they have made a lot of other watch manufacturers look like 'unnecessarily-expensive luxury' instead.
Watch Spec | Frédérique Constant Slim Line Moonphase
Case: Stainless steel Dimensions: 42mm dia, 11.3mm thick Crystal: Synthetic sapphire Water Resistance: 30m Movement: Cal. FC-705, automatic Frequency: 28,800 vph Power Reserve: 42 hours Strap: Leather Functions: Time, date, moonphase | Shop Now