What began with a few brands trying to be opportunistic when folks who wanted a luxury steel sports watch with an integrated bracelet couldn’t get one because of waiting lists has become a full-blown trend now. The latest is the Highlife Perpetual Calendar from Frederique Constant, an affordable luxury brand that consistently strives to punch above its weight. It’s not often that you’ll get to hear of a perpetual calendar timepiece under $10,000, so pay attention.
The new model is a part of the new Highlife collection, an update on a model that was first released 20 years ago. Each model features a strap-and-bracelet system that allows the wearer to alternate between steel, crococalf (that’s a calf leather strap with an embossed crocodile scale), and rubber, allowing the wearer to change from a sporty daytime to a classic evening look in a jiffy.
The Highlife Perpetual Calendar Manufacture features the company’s in-house-made FC-775 caliber, which famously debuted in the brand’s first perpetual calendar in 2016. Frederique Constant calls the self-winding FC-775 “one of the most innovative yet easy to assemble perpetual calendar[s] ever produced”; it took them two years to develop this movement at their Geneva facility.
The movement measures just 6.7 mm thick, oscillates at a frequency of 28,800 vph, and consists of 191 parts, including 26 jewels. Carrying a power reserve of 38 hours, Caliber FC-775 is the result of a design and manufacturing process that used, according to the company, the “latest technology” available in horology to make “state-of-the-art” and “very precise” parts. The finishing, executed with CNC machines, includes perlage and circular côtes de Genève on the bridges and plates.
The dial’s calendar functions are displayed across three counters: day at 9 o’clock, month and leap year at 12, date at 3, and moon-phase at 6. In the cases’ middle is the moon phase controllers and crown function for easy adjustment. The arrow-shaped hour and minute hands are rose gold-plated; as well as the hour index, which is glazed in a white-colored luminous material.
Three style variations are available. One is a two-tone model that combines steel with rose-gold plating on the bezel, crown, hour and minute hands, and bracelet. The case is 41 mm wide and is water-resistant to 50 meters. It comes on a textured black rubber strap with a rose gold-plated buckle. The other two are in all-steel cases, one with a blue dial with silver-colored hands and hour indices, mounted on a steel bracelet, the other with a silvered dial and mounted on a black leather strap.
The pricing for the Highlife Perpetual Calendar ranges from $9,095 for the steel-on-leather version, to $9,295 for steel on a bracelet, to $9,495 for two-tone steel-and-gold on a bracelet.