Frédérique Constant: Her Majesty the Chronograph


The addition of the “flyback” feature makes it a royal piece for a discerning amateur.

By Catherine Malay

Do you think it’s long? Well, measure the short times! A chronograph allows you to count time intervals of hours and minutes on both counters. In short, it timerwithout without being a stopwatch.

Complicated? The names of the two timer and chronometer clocks are often confused. A stopwatch is the label of a high-precision watch that has been tested and certified by the Swiss Official Stopwatch Control (COSC). The Geneva-based manufacturer Frederique Constant inspires collectors with a very special type of chronograph: the flyback chronograph. In 2017, its uniqueness and its difficulty of realisation led to the creation of a fully developed, manufactured and assembled range within the Swiss company. In 2020, the Flyback Chronograph Manufacture collection will be expanded with two new variants in a sport-chic look. From 3,895 to 4,195 euros, they are true to the philosophy of a brand that is committed to making fine Swiss watchmaking more accessible.

In full swing

The flyback function allows you to restart a new timing almost immediately by pressing the lower pusher once. ©DR

The principle of flyback: Stop, resurf and restart the chronograph is activated with a single pressure on the same pusher, instead of three presses distributed over two pressures. This sophisticated system, which is not time-consuming, saves valuable seconds of manipulation. His invention dates back to the 1930s, when fliers needed chronographs that were easier to use with their gloves. That’s why the flyback is also recalled in flight. Today, it is possible, among other things, to measure consecutive race times at sporting events. His zeal is based on a real mechanical complexity.

Read also – How Frédérique Constant makes watchmaking luxury more affordable

Flyback mode implies that the stop reset restart steps are perfect at the same time. To put them in a single print, traditional chronographs chained clutches and triggered themselves. To do this, they must multiply the column wheels. This complexity is the calibre that animates Frederique Constant’s flyback chronograph production. Simpler, more reliable, more fluid: fewer components, fewer operations and one wheel, no longer column, but rigid. Six years of development and a complete reconstruction were needed before one of the most efficient and affordable flight return modules in the world could be obtained, according to the Geneva-based company.

Two tones, double temptation

For the first time, the manufacturer offers the contrast of silver counters to its flyback chronograph. Pink gold-plated steel, automatic winding, 38-hour power reserve. ©DR

The collection suffers from the fate of cult creations: several models are sold out. Two new proposals are now available for repeated requests from chronograph enthusiasts. What we have in common is a 42 mm city diameter, a transparent sapphire background, silver counters for dynamic contrast and better readability. The rose-gilded version uses its three counters on a chocolate dial. The steel version prefers to install its own on a deep blue dial. Two future jewels of a watch brand that are able to cultivate technical quality and produce their own movements without becoming inaccessible.