Karishma Karer recounts her visit to the Frederique Constant Manufacture at Plan-les-Ouates…
It was a warm summer day in Geneva, as we descended upon the Plan-les-Ouates, a hotbed of Swiss watchmaking. Many reputed names in the horological industry like Patek Philippe, Rolex and so on have set base here as it a key horological spot for Swiss made horological production and development manufacture.
Cruising into the future
As we are all gather to celebrate the opening of the new extended facilities of Frederique Constant, there is a sense of excitement and pride in the air. At a time when the global economy is not at its very best it was refreshing to witness and experience the new manufacture unit of Frederique Constant.
Since the group includes Frederique Constant, Alpina Watches and Ateliers deMonaco and keeping in view the growth of the group and the high demand from worldwide markets, a new space, or rather an addition to the already existing space was inevitable.
As a watch enthusiast, I am always intrigued by spaces that harbour these horological dreams and ambitions and make them come true! We are all acquainted with the history of Frederique Constant, and how in just a span of thirty years, under the guidance of Aletta & Peter Stas, the brand has now become a force to reckon with. One of the things I have always admired about the brand is that their loyalty to classic Swiss watchmaking always matches their futuristic outlook. It is one of those rare brands that gives you the complications made faithfully in Swiss tradition at accessible prices, as well as the latest technology-based smartwatches, again created in authentic Swiss style!
Achieving this balance is never easy, but the brand has done it with aplomb which most definitely had built my curiosity about the new manufacture unit. Following a brief introduction and the official ribbon cutting ceremony, our hosts, Chairman of the Citizen Group, Mr Tokoroa, the President and Co-President of Frederique Constant Group, Peter and Aletta Stas; and Niels Eggerding, Managing Director of Frederique Constant patiently took us through the grand tour!
I have to say I was intrigued! The tour started on the ground floor as I walked through a living gallery that held a lot of information about the brand and the manufacture movements. The displays and settings enticed me to discover more about the heritage timepieces, the manufacturing process of in-house calibres, iconic watches, the newer connected watches and more. The displays, some with multimedia tables were quite interactive. A huge globe emphasized the immense innovations that we can credit to the brand. of course. And what experience would be complete without the presence of a talented watchmaker to lend that extremely-valuable ‘hands-on’ touch to the entire experience. Well, this is was an exclusive dedicated space where we had a unique Manufacture Experience.
As I looked at the varied displays with wide-eyed excitement, I also realized that this extension has a bigger purpose. It is geared to consolidating and streamlining the operations of the group. The ground floor also has the new staff canteen, the after-sales service workshops, the conception & industrialization sections, quality control and the company’s connected watch lab. On the first floor, the whole production workshop from T1 to T4 will be regrouped, optimizing watchmaking workflow and logistics. The second floor has other varied departments. overall, through this new space, the group hopes to increase the production capacity from 160,000 to 250,000 watches per year within the next 5 years.
Now let’s talk watches! I must mention the new renditions of the Perpetual Calendar Tourbillon Manufacture. There are two new limited editions in stainless steel or 18K rose gold, both of which feature a classic navy-blue skeleton dial, offering its wearer a precious glance at the watch’s complex mechanics. Well, an expansion of this sort is rightly marked by stellar creations! Our exhilarating tour ended with a nice, sunny outdoor musical cocktail.
As we walked through the Manufacture Experience and the different sections on both floors, I could not but help admiring the amazing journey of Frederique Constant. To think, that merely three decades ago, the brand started from scratch, and today, they represent not only the past but also the future of Swiss watchmaking!