It is a truth universally acknowledged that precision timekeeping is one of the most vital aspects of a watch. Keeping this thought in mind, Frederique Constant brings us the all new Slimline Monolithic Manufacture 40Hz that delivers industry-leading precision by redefining the principles of mechanical watch regulation. Introducing a new mechanism of precision timekeeping that houses an oscillator that eliminates major weaknesses of mechanical watches, this new system is a technological breakthrough.
What is it all about?
If you go down the history of watchmaking, you will notice that the way a mechanical watch is regulated has not changed in the last three centuries. With the invention of the sprung balance in the 17th century, majority of mechanical watches have relied on it. The job of sprung balance is to allow the balance to oscillate back and forth at a constant frequency. This ensures the control of the speed at which the gears rotate and hence influence the rate of the watch. While the sprung balance has evolved with time, the basic principle of the working of a sprung balance still remains the same.
Frederique Constant explores new possibilities in the realm of compliant or flexible mechanism. This led to the discovery of realising the elastic properties of materials like silicon that can enable the creation of a compact, precise monolithic single-piece components that have the capability to replace some of the assembled mechanical parts. Taking this idea forward, Frederique Constant unveils a groundbreaking concept by using these flexible, jointless structures into the design of its revolutionary oscillator. This has resulted in the creation of the Slimline Monolithic Manufacture that is equipped with a movement that ticks at an astounding 288,000 vibrations per hour – ten times faster than most mechanical watches!
How does it do it?
To achieve this amazing feat, the Swiss watch brand replaced 26 components of a standard mechanical watch with a single component fitted with two regulators. These components are made of monocrystalline silicon and is called the Monolithic oscillator. This oscillator that is integrated into the escapement anchor features three novel innovations: quantity, size and better control with the help of adjustments weights.
Choosing to use the Monocrystalline silicon helped in eliminating key weaknesses of a traditional sprung balance. The material is 100% anti-magnetic, resilient to oscillators in temperature and less sensitive to gravity. It also four times lighter in weight than the regular assortment.
The new Monolithic oscillator is a one-piece small size oscillator that is almost the size of a traditional balance wheel. It is also ultra-thin; courtesy the incorporation of an escapement rotor. Finally, the new oscillator is equipped with adjustment weights that regulates the frequency and precision of the Monolithic oscillator.
The clever engineering technique of the team at Frederique Constant managed to reduce the dimensions of the oscillator to the size of a conventional regulator while increasing its frequency that results in higher accuracy. This engineering marvel therefore operates at a frequency of 288,000 vibrations per hour or 40 Hz compared to the more common 28,800 vibrations per hour. What further seals the deal for a timepiece like this is its power reserve. Despite running at a high frequency of 40Hz, the watch clocks in an 80-hour power reserve.
How did this come about?
This imaginative and ground-breaking idea was conceptualised during a meeting between Peter Stas, co-founder and former CEO of Frederique Constant, and Dr Nima Tolou, founder and CEO of Flexous. Flexous is an innovative horology-oriented technology branch of YES!Delft, a leading Dutch tech incubator. After the meeting, Frederique Constant commissioned Flexous to create this never-before-done flexible oscillating system with distinctive specifications. Thus, a joint project between the two innovative brands was launched.
After the creation of the Monolithic oscillator, Frederique Constant, upon realisation of the need for a new base movement, set on to create a new one – automatic calibre FC-810. To create this special movement, the brand had to re-engineer the entire kinetic chain by fitting the gear train with four wheels instead of the regular three wheels. Additionally, unlike a normal mechanical movement which takes the seconds hand eight moves to complete one second, the seconds hand of the FC-810 Monolithic calibre makes 80 moves per second.
About the watch:
The 2021 Frederique Constant Slimline Monolithic Manufacture is the first watch to feature this groundbreaking innovation but it certainly won't be the last. The new collection is available in three 40mm versions; polished 18K pink gold, stainless steel in silver colour dial and stainless steel in blue coloured dial. The collection houses an elegantly designed dial with a guilloché/stamped hobnail pattern, printed Roman numerals paired with Breguet- style hands. The dial also follows the theme of the brand's Heart Beat collection by featuring an aperture at 6 o' clock that allows the wearer a view of the magnificent oscillator pulsating within. The pointer date at 12 o' clock balances out the layout of the dial.
Limited to 810 pieces for the stainless steel versions and 81 pieces for the 18K pink gold version, the Slimline Monolithic Manufacture is priced at INR 3.87 lakh (approx.) and INR 12.94 lakh (approx.) respectively.