Watches generally fall into a few categories. Mechanical watches that started it all are traditional down to their components’ decorative finishes. The quartz timepieces that followed in the later half of the 20th century are, on the other hand, more affordable and offer greater timekeeping precision. Finally, digital smartwatches from the past decade are taking things further with their seemingly unlimited functions. These categories have long been considered discrete – until now. With its Hybrid Manufacture collection, Frederique Constant has rejected the notion that you cannot combine the best qualities of different timekeepers to create a hybrid that has the functionality of a smartwatch and the heritage of a mechanical one.
The Hybrid Manufacture watch is best understood as a chimera, sporting a mechanical movement enhanced with a smartwatch module. Because of this, its features are similarly varied. At its core, the watch keeps time using a Swiss mechanical movement decorated with traditional finishes like vertical brushing, Côtes de Genève, and perlage. Meanwhile, the connected module keeps track of a second time zone and offers various fitness monitoring functions like the step tracker. What’s perhaps even more interesting is how these two seemingly disparate elements interact. In this watch, the smartwatch module actually monitors the base calibre’s oscillator by measuring its beat rate, beat error, and amplitude – the vital signs that reveal a movement’s condition. This data is then uploaded to the wearer’s smartphone so that any issues with the movement can be flagged out.
Understanding and appreciating the Hybrid Manufacture requires a rethink of what a traditional mechanical watch is capable of when imbued with the DNA of a smartwatch. The watch’s fully analogue dial is a famliar one on the wrist, while its other functions can be accessed via a paired smartphone that has its companion app. With this watch, Frederique Constant has opened a new chapter in watchmaking.