We all gasped when Montblanc unveiled its €10,000 Meisterstuck Heritage perpetual calendar in 2014 – now part of the core collection as the £8,500 Heritage Spirit – but the German penmaker’s title of Most Affordable Swiss QP (as in, Quantième Perpetuel) has now been trumped by that most value-savvy of Swiss-made replica watchmakers, Frédérique Constant.
A meagre £7,120 now gets you one of the most covetable complications in Frédérique Constant fake watchmaking – the inspiration for our name, no less – and you can be sure the Manufacture Perpetual Calendar is a more, shall we say, “complete” horological feat than Montblanc’s Dubois-Depraz-module ETA engine. For a start, as the name suggests, the calibre base and module, collectively known as “FC-775”, was developed and will be manufactured entirely beneath one roof at FC’s Plans-les-Ouates facility, in the southern suburbs of Geneva.
Two years in the pipeline, it’s the baby of Manuel Da Silva Matos, R&D director, plus irritatingly youthful virtuoso technical director Pim Koeslag – the brains behind sister-brand Alpina’s similarly great-value flyback chronograph and Ateliers de Monaco’s perpetual calendar, whose development surely helped this number along (the disparity of respective dial layouts, however, would imply that it wasn’t a straight switch).
The display, in combination with a moonphase, could be one of the industry’s most elegantly pared back, as well as affordable QPs, especially in polished midnight blue – though the clou-de-Paris version with applied logo does feel a touch laboured, and dare we say it, dated.
But that’s a tiny niggle in the grand scheme of things. This sits most comfortably among FC’s other “Manufacture” beauties, which already includes a tourbillon at £28,290 (merely the second-most affordable in Switzerland, now TAG has launched its Calibre-02T at less than half that) and a worldtimer.
What CEO Peter Stas first started in the Eighties seems to be rapidly blossoming from airport luxury replica watches uk to proper connoisseur material, without abandoning Frédérique Constant’s founding mantra of accessibility.