Luxury Swiss watchmaker Frederique Constant has announced the world’s first watch that is both smart and mechanical.
The company first jumped into the wearables space back in 2015 with its Horological smartwatch line. While that satisfied some, Swiss mechanical watch aficionados were left unhappy with the fact that the analogue part of the hybrid’s movement was based on quartz technology.
A quick lesson. For those that may not be aware, a watch movement (or calibre) is the engine of a watch that acts as the powerhouse to make it work. There are two types of movements – quartz and mechanical. Quartz watches tend to be low cost as they are powered by a battery. They feature an electronic oscillator which is synchronized by a tiny quartz crystal. Mechanical watches, on the other hand, are powered by the release of energy from a wound spring. This means they use only mechanical components to keep time so are much more challenging to manufacture.
Essential reading: Top hybrid watches, the best of both worlds
The Swiss watch industry has been facing challenging conditions in recent years. With the advent of fitness bands and smartwatches, exports of quartz watches fell in 2017 to their lowest level in 33 years. This is forcing Swiss watchmakers to shift focus towards more premium timepieces.
The Frederique Constant Hybrid Manufacture is the world’s first timepiece that fuses electronic smarts with in-house-made mechanical movement. The mechanical section of the watch has an automatic-winding caliber with a 28,800-vph frequency, 33 jewels and a 42-hour power reserve. This is the part of the timepiece which drives the hours, minutes, seconds and 6 o’clock date display.
Interestingly, purists will even be able to view the health of the mechanical movement. The built-in analysis kicks in at 4am daily thanks to an algorithm that measures the rate, amplitude and beat error. All of this info is communicated to the accompanying smartphone app and displayed in chart-form. Definitely a classy touch.
The electronic section of the timepiece is responsible for the fitness tracking element and other smart functions. Hybrid Manufacture keeps tabs on steps, distance, calories, active time, sleep and also offers comprehensive fitness coaching and 24 timezone indications. Bluetooth synching to the smartphone app is triggered via the 10 o’clock pusher. Some of these functions are also viewable in analog form on the watch.
“When it came to incorporating two technologies into a single calibre, the technical challenge consisted in cancelling out the negative magnetic effects between the mechanical and electronic modules,” company founder Peter Stas said.
“Our designers and watchmakers therefore developed a unique case equipped with an antimagnetic shield.”
Frederique Constant says both the movement and electronic parts are made entirely in-house at the company’s factory in Geneva. The timepiece comes in four designs, all of which feature a 42mm round case. There are three stainless steel options to choose from as well as a rose gold version.
The timepiece is water-resistant down to a depth of 50 meters. When it comes to battery life, the electronics will keep going for 7 days on a single charge. The time-keeping part will, of course, keep going regardless of battery status as it relies on mechanical movement.
Prices will range from $3,495 to $3,795 when the watches go on sale in May. For more info, head over to frederiqueconstant.com.
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