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Friday, December 15, 2017

FRÉDÉRIQUE CONSTANT

Frederique Constant is a watch manufacturer based in Plan-les-Ouates, Geneva, Switzerland. For almost 30 years, Frederique Constant has been making watch making history with its high quality, innovative, reasonably priced timepieces.

Founded by Aletta and Peter Stas in 1988, the company is involved in all stages of watch production, from initial design, to final assembly and quality control. Frederique Constant develops, manufactures, and assembles in-house calibers, 21 different versions since 2004. Frederique Constant watches are defined by their high quality and differentiation and precision in design and manufacturing.

Their perceived value, through quality of design, materials, and manufacture, is a key component of their success. Each watch is assembled by hand, with the latest equipment and extensive controls, to ensure maximum quality and durability. The company embraces innovation to offer creativity and exceptional value. Its 32,000 square foot facility in Geneva is ultra-modern and offers the best environment for its passionate watchmakers.
Frederique Constants’ mission is not to restrict the interest in watches to a limited and elitist circle of connoisseurs but rather to a broader selection of appreciative enthusiasts who want to enjoy high quality classical watches at sensible prices.

Frederique Constant was created from the first names of Peter Stas and Aletta Bax-Stas great-grandparents Frédérique Schreiner (1881-1969) and Constant Stas (1880-1967). The current C.E.O of Frederique Constant Peter Stas is a 4th generation descendant of Mr. Constant Stas, who founded his company in 1904, making printed clock dials for the watch industry.

Passion
Frederique Constant has the passion for creating beautiful, high quality watches with impeccable finish. The brand’s slogan is “Live your Passion” and passion is reflected in every detail of the craftsmanship, design and innovation used in the creation of a Frederique Constant watch.

Heritage
Already in the early 18th century, Genève became known as a major center for the creation and production of fine timepieces. Since then, the Geneva-based watchmakers have risen to unparalleled heights in the Art of Horology. Watchmakers are the most important assets of a watch manufacturer, since each watch is individually assembled by hand. The Frederique Constant watchmakers attended the most prominent Watchmaking schools in Genève and La Chaux-de-Fonds. Yet pure capabilities alone are only part of the equation; to be successful, a watchmaker at Frederique Constant must be truly passionate about his or her work.

Innovation
In 1994, Frederique Constant developed its first Heart Beat watch. The purpose of the Heart Beat development was to show the mechanical nature of the watches. Heart Beat timepieces have an aperture at the position of the balance wheel showing off the mechanic details which make it, a mechanical timepiece. Already in the 1990s Frederique Constant had foreseen the revival of the mechanical watch after the long-endured quartz crisis.

In 2015, Frederique Constant launched the first Horological Smartwatch featuring an analogical dial run by a completely electronic module. Another innovation ahead of its time; keeping with the Swiss excellence of watchmaking codes, the brand mixed it up with an avant-garde module which tracks the user’s activity and sleep patterns.

In 2016, the brand launched the first Accessible Luxury grande complication; a perpetual calendar entirely, in-house developed, produced and assembled. With this new timepiece Frederique Constant continues to bring high-end watchmaking to a vaster selection of watch aficionados.

Origins of the brand
The brand name Frédérique Constant has been created from two names: Frederique Schreiner, (1881-1969) and Constant Stas(1880-1967), the great-grandparents of Aletta Francoise Frédérique Stas-Bax and Peter Constant Stas.The current Managing Director of Frédérique Constant SA, Peter Stas, is the 4th generation descendant of Constant Stas. Constant Stas founded his company in 1904 and became involved in the watch industry by making printed clock dials. In 1988, Frédérique Constant was established in its current form.

The first collection of six models, fitted with Swiss movements and assembled by a watchmaker in Geneva, was launched in 1992. In 1995 Frédérique Constant participated in the World Watch and Jewellery Show in Basel for the first time. In 1997 the headquarters of the company moved to Carouge near Geneva. In need of a bigger production site, the company moved to Chêne-Bourg,Geneva. With a production of over 40,000 watches a year, the brand is well established in Europe, the Middle East, and the Far East as well as in the United States.

Heart Beat
An important milestone in the history of Frédérique Constant was reached in 1994 with the introduction of the Heart Beat collection, with mechanical movements. The purpose of the Heart Beat development was to show the mechanical nature of its watches. Heart Beat watches have an aperture at the position of the balance wheel to show that the movement of the watch is mechanical.

Early in the 1990’s, automatic mechanical watches were slowly making their comeback after the quartz crisis of the 1970-1980’s. Typically, these mechanical watches looked similar to quartz watches, except that the second hand moved continuously. On quartz watches, the second hand makes 60 steps per minute. Frédérique Constant decided to highlight the difference between mechanical and quartz watches visually. In a mechanical watch, the balance wheel beats 28’800 times per hour.

The balance wheel rotates clockwise and counter-clockwise on its axes in a large ruby jewel. Its rotation is controlled by the hairspring, which constantly coils and uncoils, as can be seen through the dial aperture of the Heart Beat watches. The Heart Beat has become the iconic signature of the Frédérique Constant brand. With the introduction of the Heart Beat Manufacture, Frédérique Constant has become a member of the small and exclusive group of Swiss watch manufacturers that produce their own calibres. A Manufacture calibre is the ultimate achievement in the Art of Horology. Frederique Constant secured a patent for its Heart Manufacture Calibres.

The Frédérique Constant LinesThe first collection counted six models and was launched in 1992. In 1999 the brand launched the first models of the Highlife™-Line: the Triple-Time and the Heart-Beat collections (the first time-keeper in watch history to unveil the escapement and the balance wheel – the heart of the Frédérique Constant mechanical movement). In 2000, the first Tourbillon was introduced. At the same time, the Highlife™-Line was enriched by watches designed specially for women. Today the brand counts three lines: Highlife™, Persuasion and Classics as well as 17 collections. All Frédérique Constant models are created and developed in-house. Sometimes external designers are consulted for a specific series of models. Purist lines and a classical contemporary style are the guidelines since the launch of the brand in 1988.

Highlife™
Frédérique Constant Highlife™ is the flagship of the brand’s lines, and has a number of distinguishing characteristics, like the metallic Highlife™ bracelet or the large Arabic Highlife™ numerals. Initially, the unique center link of the Highlife metal bracelet was designed for the Yacht Timer to resemble a winch on a sailing yacht. Most models of this line have a transparent sapphire case back and a convex sapphire glass with antireflection treatment and are water resistant up to 100m. Another unique characteristic of the Highlife design is the multiplication of the Frédérique Constant crest in a horizontal oval shape in the center of the dial.

The brand’s crest is embedded translucently, and lastly, a solid 18K gold crest is applied to the dial. The Frédérique Constant Highlife™-line includes a Tourbillon, Heart Beat Perpetual, Heart Beat Day-Date, Heart Beat Retrograde, and Heart Beat Moonphase Chrono as well as a Triple Time GMT with three time zones. Mechanical movements are built with components of the highest quality, and adhere to all accuracy criteria regulations for gaining official Swiss chronometer certification.

Persuasion
The Frédérique Constant Persuasion™ line has dials with prominent large roman indexes. These unique roman indexes provide a powerful styling element to this line. Following the Highlife design, the Frédérique Constant crest is multiplied in an oval shape in the center of the dial, linking the two collections. The Persuasion collection is a direct implementation of the mission of Frédérique Constant to create timepieces radiating Geneva luxury, while maintaining a reasonable price. The Frédérique Constant Persuasion™ line is an ideal solution for those individuals who appreciate the quality of Swiss luxury watches, but only wish to purchase at a 'mid-segment' price. These watches are built around automatic movements, as well as quartz calibers with interesting complications. Of particular note the "Business Timer" with its unique week calendar.

Classics
The Frédérique Constant "Classics" consist of some of the longest selling watches. These timepieces are redesigned every three to four years to include the latest technology, while maintaining their same successful basic design. Art Deco, one of the collections of the Classics line, is the style that swept through the most fashionable circles in the 1920s and 1930s. The name is derived from the title of the Paris exhibition of 1925, the 'Exposition des Arts Decoratifs'. The look was luxurious and opulent, with rounded curves and corners, inside and out, based on geometric shapes such as the tonneau.

The Frédérique Constant Art Deco Collection is a tribute to this exiting period. The tonneau-shaped models are made both with mechanical handwinding and quartz movements. The Frédérique Constant Art Deco models are finished with an ergonomically caseback to fit perfectly on the wrist. Another collection is Slimline, which is a series of extremely flat models; based on quartz movements with a thickness of just 1.90 mm. Dials are finished with a guilloche pattern produced by a complex engraving procedure. The company developed precision tools with tolerances as low as 1/1000 of a millimetre, for each pattern and dial design.

Peter C. Stas & Aletta Bax, Founders of Frédérique Constant
Frédérique Constant is numbered among today’s leading Geneva watchmakers. This private family company has achieved this esteemed position with a brilliantly planned and well executed programme of expansion since the launch of its first products in 1992. Unusually, Peter C. Stas and his wife Aletta Bax did not originally train as watchmakers, but their business backgrounds, combined with their talents for design and watchmaking skills, and the marketing message behind their promotional motto, ‘Live Life with a Passion’, have brought the company widely recognized success in a constantly competitive industry.

Peter C. Stas was born on 18th June 1963 in the Dutch town of Gouda, world-famous for its cheese. He was educated at local schools, latterly studying economics. Between 1982 and 1987 he studied at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, obtaining a Doctorandus degree in business economics. This involved producing a mandatory thesis, and the subject he chose was one that was, happily, to stand him in good stead in the years to come – it was ‘Evaluation of Training’.

During this time he also travelled around the world gaining a variety of educational experiences. He found himself at the City of London Polytechnic in 1984, for example, for three weeks on a finance programme. He also spent four months in Denver, Colorado, researching for his thesis. In 1985 Peter C. Stas spent three months at Harvard, and it was here that a chance event occurred that was to shape his future business career. He was on a programme examining business case-studies, and worked his way through no less than 80 of them.

It so happened that one of the chosen enterprises was Société Suisse de Microélectronique et d’Horlogerie SA, known to all at that time as SMH (it is now known as The Swatch Group). This Swiss conglomerate was in the process of being reshaped by a consultant, former Swatch Group president and CEO Mr Nicolas G. Hayek, and consisted mainly of old-established but often poorly promoted watch brands. In the course of his examination Stas came to realize that the European watch industry was basically surviving in an era when the so-called quartz revolution, which originated in the Far East, was gravely affecting the financial fortunes of most Swiss watch manufacturers. And yet the automobile and electronics industries were struggling at the same time. It seemed to him that the pure economics of all these industries were the only interest. There was little concentration upon innovation.

In the years between 1987 and 1989 Peter C. Stas worked for a Loyens company in New York. This he enjoyed, while he reorganized back office routines and departments overseas. His obvious talent for administration was being uncovered at a time when computers were arriving in many efficient businesses. His interest in their potential was aroused at this point, and in 1988, in his spare time, he created his own software company. In his leisure time he often went skiing in Switzerland, and was thus able to further in an active way, with factory visits, his interest in a private plan he was evolving for making affordable mechanical wristwatches.

 Soon he was designing a collection of six models. The pattern of his daytime life was changed in April 1989, when he started working for Philips in Eindhoven, in his native Holland. His first job there was to look after audio products in the US market. To work in the New World was not an option for him, and in 1991 he departed for a six-year tour of duty in Hong Kong. During this time he established a consumer electronics company for Philips, and was totally involved with creating products, sourcing, distribution and marketing. In less than two years he was employing nine people, turning over SwFr 30m, and making a profit. That talent for business was coming ever more sharply into focus!

The world of watchmaking was also moving centre-stage in the life of Peter C. Stas. He became informally involved with Mido (the fine old watch brand founded in Bienne in 1918), as he privately pursued his industry plans, and also met his now close colleague Philippe Bouchet, who is an expert at sourcing watch parts. During the evenings in his first year in Hong Kong, 1991, this Philips employee assembled by hand two each of six quartz wristwatch models, gathered as ‘The 18th-Century Collection’, and each had ‘Frédérique Constant’ proudly enamelled on its dial.

The story behind this now famous brand name is as follows. Aletta Bax, who had married Peter C. Stas in 1991, was working in Hong Kong in 1992 with an insurance company, when it was decided that she would open a small office for the fledgling watchmaking enterprise already established with her husband. Back in 1988 they had created its name from their respective families’ histories: ‘Frédérique’ comes from Frédérique Schreiner (1881-1969), who was Aletta’s great-grandmother. ‘Constant’ is derived from Peter’s great-grandfather Constant Stas (1880-1967), who, it is interesting to note, was himself involved with the manufacture of printed clock dials.

New Manufacture in Plan-les-Ouates
In 2006, The Company opened the new Frédérique Constant manufacture in Plan-les-Ouates, Geneva. The manufacture measures 3200 square meters, divided over four floors, offering an attractive working environment for its watchmakers in the sectors of movement component production, calibre assembly, watch assembly, and extensive quality control.


Numerically controlled machines of the latest generation are located in a large atelier in the basement, where all component manufacturing is concentrated. Calibre and watch assembly, as well as state-of-the-art quality control, are primarily organized on the first floor of the new Frédérique Constant building.

Milestones
  • 1988: Peter Stas and Aletta Stas-Bax start designing their own watch collection
  • 1994: Launch of the first Heart Beat timepiece (FC-310M36)
  • 1995: Launch of the Gents & Ladies Heart Beat (FC-310HW3A5 & FC-310HW1A5)
  • 1997: Peter Stas and Aletta Bax-Stas move to Geneva, Switzerland. Frederique Constant exhibits at Baselworld for the first time
  • 1998: Launch of the Heart Beat Day-Date (FC-610M3A6)
  • 1999: Launch of the Heart Beat Perpetual (FC-710S39)
  • 2000: Inauguration of new office facilities in Chêne-Bourg. Launch of the Heart Beat Perpetual (FC-710S39)
  • 2001: Launch of the Heart Beat Retrograde 18k gold (FC-680AS3H9)
  • 2004: Launch of the first FC-910Heart Beat Manufacture caliber entirely in-house developed, produced and assembled
  • 2005: Launch of the FC-915 Moonphase caliber
  • 2006: Inauguration of new Manufacture building based in Plan-les-Ouates. Launch of the FC-930 Automatic caliber
  • 2007: Launch of FC-935 Automatic Moonphase& Date
  • 2008: Launch of the FC-980 First Tourbillon Moonphase with silicium escapement
  • 2009: Launch of the FC-985 Tourbillon Moonphase with Silicium. Launch of FC-938 First GMT    
  • 2014: Celebration of the Heart Beat Manufacture Collection with new caliber FC-945. Launch of the FC-945 Silicium Moonphase. Launch of the FC-942 Silicium Moonphase
  • 2015: Launch of the FC-285 first Horological Smartwatch: a smartwatch featuring an analogical dial run by an electronic module
  • 2016: Frederique Constant invites Gwyneth Paltrow to become its Charity Brand Ambassador and the face of the new Delight Automatic and Horological Smartwatch Collections. Launch of the FC-775 first Perpetual Calendar Manufacture: a grande complication at a sensible price. Launch of the first Horological Smartwatch for Ladies
  • 2017: Launch of the Flyback Chronograph Manufacture. Developed in-house from scratch over a six year period, manufactured components in-house, and finally assembled the caliber in-house.

Official website: www.frederique-constant.com

[PRODUCT GALLERY -  FRÉDÉRIQUE CONSTANT WATCHES]

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