This week, DRIVEN’s in-house doctor of horology, James Lamdin, got his hands on two classic timepieces and took them for a spin. This is his report:
Since the TimeCrafters event in New York last month, I’d been jonesing for some wrist-time with a few of the pieces I handled. And as it happened, last week two watchmakers—Frédérique Constant and Girard-Perregaux—sent along a couple for a test-drive.
The Frédérique Constant Classics Manufacture & the Girard-Perregaux 1966 Annual Calendar and Equation of Time split time on my wrist for a week—welcome upgrades to my normal wristwear, and definitely conversation starters.
For two otherwise very distinct watches, these have something important in common: in-house movements. In watchmaking, “movement” refers to the mechanics that make a watch run. Many, these days, are generic—which means that all you’re buying is a case and a strap—just like buying the body of a luxury car with a run-of-the-mill engine inside of it.
Given how saturated the market is with generic off-the-shelf movements (mostly from ETA, part of the Swiss watch giant Swatch Group), I’m always glad to see in-house movements coming from small watch manufacturers.
Interestingly, Swatch Group began limiting their distribution of ETA movements to competitor brands (and will stop completely in the near future), which should make the next few years of luxury watchmaking truly interesting.
As smaller manufacturers are forced to find new solutions for powering their designs, we can expect to see some true innovation—and some brutal defeats, as companies are left without a supplier for the most integral part of their products.
In that regard, both Frédérique Constant & Girard-Perregaux are ahead of the curve.
The Frédérique Constant is the bargain of the pair: with a solid-gold rotor, sapphire-crystal display back and a Roman guilloche dial, it goes for $2,550.
The Girard-Perregaux is a different animal entirely, adding an annual calendar and Equation of Time complication to the mix.
The latter’s a pretty unusual feature to say the least; it announces the difference between mean and apparent solar time by means of an extra gauge settled between the 4 and 5 o’clock positions.
Totally useless. Totally interesting. Totally flux-capacitor-esque. The watch comes wrapped in a thin case, machined from 18K gold, and sells for an eye-watering $32,860.
They are a dressy couple of watches, each clad in rose gold—a welcome return to classic luxury after a decade of sports watches finished in steel.
That oversized bling you’ve seen on a ton of wrists around town is on its way out, in favor of slimmer pieces like these.
Don’t say you didn’t get the memo.
- Posted October 23, 2012
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- James Lamdin