Available in two versions, each of them limited to 2888 pieces, the new collection of Frederique Constant Runabout automatic chronographs (Refs. FC-393RM5B4 and FC-393RM5B6) is an example of good industrial design with its large, clean dial both easily readable and pleasant to look at. Although its functionality (more on that later, you are going to raise at least one eyebrow) is somewhat limited compared to the previous Runabout Chrono, this model still makes a strong impression.
As the previous version, the new Runabout Chronograph sports a nice, vintage-style design with its pair of hour and minute hands nicely blending with the a silver-toned dial featuring a classic Clous de Paris guilloche pattern and a classic, stopwatch-styled minute track that also makes using the central chronograph hand even easier. As usual, the calendar aperture of the device is fairly small but is still adequate for easy reading.
Like the outstanding 2009 Frederique Constant Runabout Chronograph, the new limited edition model uses the same typeface for its eight Arabic numerals, but changes their angle relative to the dial’s center allowing for better legibility and making the whole layout look more, well, serious, reminiscing those WWII-era pilot’s watches that are so popular again.
Although the rose gold-plated ref. FC-393RM5B4 version looks a bit dressier, it is the one that comes in a polished stainless steel body (ref. FC-393RM5B6) that delivers the best mix of materials and textures including a blue “crococalf” (calfskin embossed with crocodile texture to give it more expensive look) leather strap with contrast white stitching and sexy “pearl black” applied numerals.
The major difference between this new watch and the 2009 model is not even the size of the body, which is now just 42 millimeters in diameter, but a new layout of the dial. Possibly trying to make the new timepiece look even more classic, the Swiss-based watchmaking brand has removed the small seconds indicator leaving just a pair of chronograph counters: a 30-minute and 12-hour totalizers paced at 12 and 6 o’clock respectively.
I can’t say that without the subsidiary seconds display the device became more usable, but, well at least the left the calendar window, right?
Still, judging by the model’s specs, the FC-393 automatic caliber that powers it is still based on the same ETA Valjoux 7750 self-winding caliber, so, even despite some of its natural-born functionality removed in favor of looks, you are still getting a reliable watch that, if something goes wrong, will also be quite easy to fix by almost any repairman.
While the promised 2888 numbered pieces make the “limited edition” part of the model’s name a sort of joke (I mean, there is almost no way that the model will get its collectability level increased when it is being produced by the thousands), I must admit that it still looks like a nice choice for a young man looking for a way to graduate from a “classic” quartz watch for something more upscale that doesn’t look generic but is still affordable.
Photos: Frederique Constant
Build quality: 5/5
Value for money: 4/5
Frederique Constant Runabout Chronograph Automatic (Refs. FC-393RM5B4 and FC-393RM5B6) specification
Price: CHF 3190 (MSRP, ref. FC-393RM5B4) / CHF 2850 (MSRP, ref. FC-393RM5B6)
Movement: Automatic, Caliber FC-393, base ETA Valjoux 7750, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 25
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Power reserve: 46 hours
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, chronograph
Case: Stainless steel / Rose gold-plated
Size: 42.00 mm
Hour markers: Black
Water resistance: 50 meters
Strap: Brown or blue “crococalf” (calfskin embossed with crocodile texture) leather strap with folding buckle
Crystal: Sapphire, convex
Back: Transparent, Riva Historical Society flag on the case back