Monday, June 27, 2016

Wrapping Up - Seven Days with the Frederique Constant Manufacture Worldtimer

Seven days have come and gone.  And the time has come to warp the review up.

Courtesy of Frederique Constant
There are a lot of watches and a lot of watch brands out there vying for our attention.  This particular model has been on a lot of people's wish lists since it was released, and as a point of full disclosure, has been on my list as well.

So let's jump in!

Size matters, and bigger is better - not always!  The Manufacture Worldtimer measures in at 42 mm in diameter and is 12.1 mm thick.  The case is polished stainless steel, the case back is sapphire display.

The size is perfect, at least for my wrist.  The lugs extend just to the edge, but do not extend beyond my wrist.

Although the size is 42 mm, the curvature of the bezel and rounded mid-case add an organic look and feel to the watch, and softens the look in a very favorable way.  In terms of comfort?  Without a doubt, the watch is profoundly comfortable.  The curve of the lugs is smooth, not sharp and the finish is top notch, not a rough spot or edge to be felt.

The one thing that often isn't covered in any depth in a watch review is the comfort of the strap and buckle or clasp. And like every aspect of this watch, it is perfectly balanced.  

Now in fairness, those are sort of basic expectations that you would have for a watch.  But this is not your average, everyday watch.  

I have always been  sucker for "world time" watches, and as someone who writes about these things it has always been what you might call worship from afar.  So this past week has been a series of firsts.  

Now having seen the Worldtimer at BaselWorld, I still had yet to wear it for more than a two to three minutes.  I can honestly say that the past week has been a true pleasure.

When you consider a watch with complications, one of the greatest challenges is to ensure legibility.  It's all well and good to have multiple time zones with multiple cities etched on the dial, but none of that really matters if you can't easily read the watch itself.

Well, this is a wonderfully legible dial. The names of the cities are easy to read. The use of a 2 section chapter ring for the other time zones is divided by day (white) and night (blue).  The motif of the globe is slightly raised as a separate layer with the two outer rings with location (outer most ring) and other time zones (just above the main time indication).

The movement is the FC-718.  It is a self-winding automatic that boasts 42 hours of power reserve.  It provides hours, minutes, seconds, date at 6 o'clock and as advertised a world time function.  

The world time functionality is operated via the crown.  In position 2 (date setting in a traditional watch) you control both the alternative time zones and date depending upon the direction you turn the crown.  The date is a pointer type at 6 o'clock and sits atop the two outermost chapter rings.  Now for some this might be a bit off-putting but I think it is actually a good design element for a few reasons - it adds depth to the overall dial.  When you have so many elements going at once, you need the separation that the layering of dial elements provides.  In addition, the date would be completely lost if it were displayed in any other way.

And what ties it all together for me is the relief map of the world.  Having lived in Japan, Portugal, Finland, Scotland, Canada and back home in the US, I am reminded of my life and my journeys whenever I look at the face of the Manufacture Worldtimer.  I realize that is a very personal point, but aren't watches supposed to be somewhat personal?

In terms of the movement, it is beautiful.  The blued screws, the finishing and the oscillating weight are all superlative.

So we've talked about look and feel, what about the performance?  The timekeeping was first rate and spot-on!  Greatest deviation was - 6 seconds.  And as the name would indicate, this is part of the Manufacture collection.   

Now a noted blog/online watch magazine has reviewed this watch previously and used the term "Value Proposition".  And in truth, I think that does this watch a disservice because it's a bit of a backhanded compliment because it infers that the watch is good because of its price point.  Frankly, that is a disservice.  Because in all honesty, the finish and appeal of this watch surpasses several watches at double the retail.  Which, by the way, is $4,195.  But I guess my point is that the appeal and quality of this watch transcends it price point.  It is visually appealing, wears incredibly comfortably, keeps nearly perfect time, I don't really know what else could be said?  It is a fantastic watch!

So here are the details:

Manufacture Worldtimer

FC-718 Automatic movement 26 jewels, 28'800 alt/h and 42 power reserve, with Hours, Minutes, Seconds, Date, Worldtimer.
Stainless steel case, diameter of 42mm with Convex sapphire and 2-O-Rings crown, height 12.1mm. Water-resistant to 5 ATM.
Navy, worldmap, applied white luminous indexes
Alligator Strap

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