The 2009 Frederique Constant Maxime Manufacture Collection (refs. FC-700MS5MZ9 and FC-700MS5M6) is the second lot of manufacture-grade timepieces from the independent brand. Unlike the numerous competitors, it is equipped not with a mass-produced ETA blanc caliber but features FC’s in-house movement.
Called Caliber FC-700, the mechanism is built on 26 jewels and features a nicely decorated golden rotor visible through the transparent back cover.
The FC-700 is the second manufacture-made caliber from Frederique Constant after their FC-930 movement that was presented in 2004 together with the vintage-styled Heart Beat Manufacture Automatic collection. Frankly, I don’t see anything groundbreaking or revolutionary in this mechanism, but, if Frederique Constant will somehow manage to make enough of these movements for the economy of scale to kick in, it would be nice to have an extra maker of high-grade mechanical movements in the field that is currently manipulated by just one behemoth (and you probably already know who I am talking about.)
Back to our sheep though. Frederique Constant has made its fortune selling watches that are both affordable and elegant.
More than that, FC is the first company that, with the aforementioned Heart Beat model with a skeletonized dial, actually started the “open heart” craze.
However, the Maxime Manufacture Automatic lacks in terms of originality of the exterior.
The dial features a standard layout with central hour and minute hands and a date sub-dial located at 6 o’clock.
Its combination of Sun Ray and Clous de Paris guilloche patterns is nothing new and often used by other brands -for example, the German Limes– striving in the same niche.
What makes this watch unique, is the movement.
You see, most brands in this price range (the collection will retail below €2000, by the way) are usually powered by standard ETA movements with standard complication modules bought from third-party manufacturers like, say, Dubois-Depraz.
Although the choice of movements usually (not always!) makes it easier to service or repair the caliber in case of damage or replace a faulty movement altogether at a reasonable price, there is always that tiny voice in your head that constantly tells you that your watch is not unique. It tells you that you paid too much for a timekeeper that sports movement that costs around 40 bucks apiece.
The Maxime Manufacture Automatic features the company’s own cal. FC-700 in-house movement and, although its accuracy and reliability still have to pass the test of time, this makes it THE most exclusive affordable watch on the market.
See also: Bvlgari Sotirio in rose gold
Photos: Frederique Constant
Frederique Constant Maxime Manufacture Automatic (refs. FC-700MS5MZ9 and FC-700MS5M6) specification
Price: €1950 (MSRP)
Movement: Caliber FC-700, in-house, Swiss Made
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, date
Power reserve: 42 hours
Case: Stainless steel with 18kt rose gold bezel, transparent case back
Size: 42.00 mm
Case height: 11.80 mm
Lugs: 18/22 mm
Numerals: Roman or Arabic; polished, applied
Water resistance: 50 meters
Strap: Dark-brown or black alligator strap with a folding clasp in matching metal
Crystal: Sapphire, convex