As the year comes to an end, I am reminded that (among other things) 2023 is the 35th anniversary of Geneva-based watchmaker Frederique Constant. It is also the 15th anniversary of its first in-house mechanical movements. To celebrate, Frederique Constant has released a limited-edition model that is probably its most expensive watch yet, the Frederique Constant Highlife Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar Manufacture watch, and as the same implies, it includes an in-house automatic movement that has a perpetual calendar complication, as well as a tourbillon-based regulation system.

I visited Frederique Constant at Dubai Watch Week 2023 where I got to view this pre-production prototype of the Highlife Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar. Unlike the 35 pieces in the limited edition, this prototype has a rose gold-toned steel case, as opposed to the solid 18k rose gold that the production pieces will have. It is also possible that there will be other small aesthetic tweaks between this piece and the final retail models.

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Inside this very fancy Highlife collection watch is Frederique Constant’s in-house-made and -developed caliber FC-975 automatic movement that includes a traditional perpetual calendar display on the dial as well as an open view of the tourbillon. The movement operates at 4Hz with 38 hours of power reserve. The perpetual calendar is traditional in the sense that it has the standard calendar information layout (date, month, day of the week, and leap year indicator), as well as inset pushers on the side of the case to help adjust the calendar information. (I personally prefer when this is done via the crown, but that requires a very different system and is rarely ideal for a modular movement construction). Movement decor is quite nice ranging from the polished elements you can see through the dial-side of the watch as well as the through the sapphire crystal caseback on the rear of the timepiece. The case itself is water resistant to 30 meters.

The stock Highlife case is often best worn on a bracelet, but here it would cost much more money if Frederique Constant produced a matching 18k rose gold bracelet. So instead, the limited edition Highlife Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar Manufacture comes with both a matching blue leather and blue rubber strap. The case is designed with a quick-release mechanism for the straps so that they can be swapped out rather easily. The Highlife case itself is quite comfortable on the wrist and is 41mm wide and just under 13mm thick in this form.

The legible dial uses rose gold-toned hands and hour markers against a deep blue face. The colors are flattering, but I am still not a huge fan of the longitude and latitude lines dial decoration that typifies many Highlife watches, though, thankfully, you can’t see much of it given the various subdials and the tourbillon window on the dial of the Highlife Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar.

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While Frederique Constant has produced tourbillon watches and perpetual calendar watches previously, I believe this limited-edition Highlife Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar timepiece with the FC-975 movement is the first time Frederique Constant has combined them. Given the high cost of the timepiece, I don’t think the FC-975 will be included in too many models as Frederique Constant typically sells watches that are much more affordably priced. Nevertheless, when judging by the price of other watches with gold cases and similarly complicated movements, the retail price isn’t all that bad. The price for the limited edition of 35 pieces  Frederique Constant Highlife Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar Manufacture watch in 18k rose gold is $48,995 USD. Learn more at the Frederique Constant website.

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