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Frederique Constant - Highlife Automatic Skeleton:  Journey to the centre of the Earth

Frederique Constant Highlife Automatic Skeleton: Journey to the centre of the Earth

The brand continues to expand its Highlife collection, introducing two new limited series at the Geneva Watch Days. This bold and unique watch provides a foretaste of what we might expect to see from this collection in the future

Some of you will no doubt remember the Heart Beat: a small watch with a heart-shaped opening in the dial, through which a part of the movement could be seen. What could have been a one-off turned out to be a rich seam – one the entire industry was able to exploit, because Frédérique Constant forgot to protect the design!

Twenty-five years later, traces of this heritage can be found in the Highlife Automatic Skeleton. It borrows the idea of a partial opening in the dial, providing a view of the movement beneath. But this time, the shape is no longer a heart: it’s the Earth. And this watch is more masculine than feminine. The generic movement of the original has been replaced with an in-house calibre, whose only slight disadvantage is its power reserve of 38 hours, which seems a little on the low side these days.

Highlife Automatic Skeleton:  Journey to the centre of the Earth

Highlife Automatic Skeleton © Frederique Constant

Nevertheless, the Highlife Automatic Skeleton is much more than just a new reference within the Highlife collection. For those who can read between the lines, it’s a sign of the brand’s evolution and a witness to Frédérique Constant’s quarter-century of growth. It’s the latest chapter in the story of a small family watchmaker, which started out using ETA base movements and became a 100% integrated manufacture, a pillar of affordable Swiss Made engineering, and a powerhouse of new ideas that have been regularly admired and copied.

En somme, la Highlife Automatic Skeleton représente bien plus qu’une nouvelle référence au sein de la collection Highlife. Pour ceux qui savent lire entre ces lignes, c’est un marqueur de l’évolution de la marque, le témoin d’un quart de siècle de progression de Frédérique Constant. L’histoire d’une petite marque familiale à base ETA devenue une manufacture 100% intégrée, un mastodonte du Swiss Made abordable et dont les idées, si modestes soient-elles, sont régulièrement reprises et copiées.

Built for daily use

The Highlife Automatic Skeleton is the concrete embodiment of this. The case is modern and faceted, and the apertures in the dial play with effects of light. With its hour markers set into a broad chapter ring, it seems likely that Frédérique Constant is leaving itself plenty of room for future creative interpretations: blue, grey, sapphire, rose gold, green and countless PVD options. To start the ball rolling, two versions are currently available: blue and grey.

Some of this potential is already being explored with the integrated interchangeable bracelet. This has been a defining feature of the Highlife range since its (re)launch. Frédérique Constant continues to pursue its philosophy of offering more for less – the logical extension of its policy of making Swiss Made watchmaking as affordable as possible.

Highlife Automatic Skeleton:  Journey to the centre of the Earth

Highlife Automatic Skeleton © Frederique Constant

The watch comes with an alternative rubber strap in navy blue (the same colour for both versions). That doesn’t make the new Highlife Automatic Skeleton a sports watch, but it does open up the possibility for some nautical adventures, as well as making it the kind of tool watch you can wear every day, even when running errands or gardening at the weekend.

With its 41 mm diameter, this watch is more masculine than feminine, but it also perfectly fits the unisex mould. In the case of the two models being launched at the Geneva Watch Days, only 888 of each will be produced. The Highlife Automatic Skeleton is not revolutionary or disruptive. But, like many creations that come out of Frédérique Constant, it will probably still be around in 25 years, because it’s well-balanced, elegant, well-designed and reasonably priced. What more could you want?

 

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Frederique Constant has made a successful business out of offering affordable luxury, experiencing growth rates well above the industry average. The owners have a clear mission to make fine watchmaking available to the largest possible audience of watch enthusiasts at sensible prices.

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