Highlife: the next generation of an iconic timepiece

September 8, 2020

Frederique Constant launched the first models in the Highlife collection over 20 years ago. Their unique design was characterised by the special strap built into the case. For 2020, the Brand has updated the ingenious concept and reinvigorated the collection by adding three new models: the Highlife Perpetual Calendar Manufacture, Highlife Heart Beat and Highlife Automatic COSC. All still feature the system which makes it possible to switch between a steel bracelet, a leather, crococalf suede or rubber strap, alternating from classic to sporty on a whim!

The Highlife collection created by Frederique Constant in 1999 has not only impacted the history of the Manufacture, but that of watchmaking as well. The original embodied all the values that contributed to the success and longevity of the Brand. Firstly, there is the sophisticated horological nature of the design, inspired by the most stunning examples of traditional fine Swiss watchmaking with high-quality finishing. Then, there is the careful attention for a fair and proportionate price, allowing as many people as possible to access Swiss Made luxury, a cause steadfastly and rigorously defended by Frederique Constant for over 30 years.

Frederique Constant launched the first models in the Highlife collection with the Triple Time series. One year later, the collection was supplemented by a tourbillon and the Brand’s emblematic Heart Beat aperture. On proving a huge hit, the collection was quickly expanded and diversified, notably by integrating a perpetual calendar, a chronograph and Manufacture movement, as well as designs for women.

Thanks to its wide range of qualities, its exclusive design would appeal to men and women of all ages. Consisting of a steel case allowing for a steel bracelet or a leather strap to be added, it represented a real aesthetic and practical breakthrough. An ingenious idea from an entirely independent manufacture that would help the Highlife collection stand out on account of its versatility.

The return of an original must-have design

Bolstered by these advances, the Highlife collection is now making its comeback. Two years of development were needed to give birth to these three models: the Highlife Perpetual Calendar Manufacture, Highlife Heart Beat and Highlife Automatic COSC. Faithful to the original collection from 1999 and still designed according to Frederique Constant’s same key values, the new Highlife collection shares certain fundamental characteristics in being finely crafted, Swiss Made, affordable and engineered for everyday use.

The three models have the same 41 mm case. True to the Brand’s DNA, they present a modern yet elegant, or sport chic appearance, and have been designed for the next generation of collectors eager to embrace luxury Swiss Made timepieces.

A new case with an integrated interchangeable bracelet

Like the original inspiration, the Highlife 2020 collection has an integrated bracelet. The lack of horns allows for greater flexibility and helps the watch sit naturally on the wrist. The integrated design is infinitely more complicated to conceive than any strap with horns. The process requires perfect continuity between the lines of the case and the links, a smooth, regular but gradual transition to the clasp and natural fluidity that should be almost imperceptible.

Not only has Frederique Constant managed to achieve this natural continuity, but the integrated system allows the wearer to change the bracelet with ease. With no need for any tools or accessories, you can change the look of your watch just by pressing. From a steel bracelet, a leather, crococalf suede or rubber strap, the Highlife can be restyled in seconds.

To switch between a sporty, urban, or stylish look, all you need to do is press on the two push-pins at the end of the bracelet or the strap to disconnect it from the case and, just as easily, click a new one into place. Frederique Constant supplies all new Highlife models with two alternatives at no additional cost. A leather strap or a steel bracelet are fitted as standard and accompanied by a second rubber strap, supplied with the model of your choice. A set of three additional crococalf suede straps in brown, blue and black can also be purchased separately.

The symbol of the Earth, a meaningful and unifying decoration

All the new models in the Highlife collection have a decorated dial. In the interests of unifying the collection, each one features the same globe motif. Symbolising the Earth, the harmony, the perfection of the circle, it is also the icon of a new generation that shares the same ideal for saving the planet, sustainable and sensible living. An ethic in perfect harmony with that of Frederique Constant, which has always championed quality, reliable watches that are both transferable and accessible to as many people as possible. So as to capture this life with all its subtleties, the sapphire crystals on the dial side in the new Highlife collection benefit from an anti-reflective treatment on both sides.

The Highlife collection is based on certain fundamentals acquired from Frederique Constant’s lengthy experience, which have been revised and improved: a new case design, interchangeable straps and a delicate globe decoration on the dial that can be admired down to the smallest detail thanks to the sapphire crystal, which benefits from an anti-reflective treatment on both sides. Distinctive qualities common to all the models help propel the Highlife towards new horizons.

Highlife Perpetual Calendar Manufacture

Swiss Made watchmaking excellence

The Highlife Perpetual Calendar Manufacture epitomises this approach. “Highlife” is the revival of a legendary line, part of an historic collection that has shaped the face of luxurious and affordable contemporary Swiss Made watchmaking. “Perpetual Calendar” describes a level of complication to which few brands have access, an indication of technical mastery patiently acquired over the course of more than 30 years’ watchmaking experience. Finally, “Manufacture” is a declaration, about belonging to an exclusive club of watchmakers capable of designing, producing, assembling and testing their own timepieces.

Complete with a perpetual calendar, this piece is powered by the Manufacture FC-775 caliber, a self-winding mechanical movement. Beating at a frequency of 28,800 vph, it has a power reserve of 38 hours. Its perlage and Côtes de Genève can be seen through the sapphire crystal caseback.

As for the dial, the Highlife Perpetual Calendar Manufacture is characterised by three counters: day at 9 o’clock, month and leap year at 12 o’clock, date at 3 o’clock. A moon phase at 6 o’clock completes the set. Discreet controllers placed in the middle of the case make it possible, as with the crown, to adjust all the indications. For optimum legibility, the hand-polished hands and index hour markers are tinged with luminescent material.

Three different variations of the Highlife Perpetual Calendar Manufacture are already available. The first is characterised by two-tone styling, combining steel and rose gold plating on the bezel, bracelet and crown. Out of the white decorated dial come rose gold-plated hands and index hour markers. The piece is also supplied with a textured black rubber strap featuring a rose gold-plated buckle.

The second version is mostly plain blue with silver hands the same colour as the index hour markers. The original steel bracelet is complemented by a second blue rubber strap with a steel pin buckle.

Finally, the third version comes with a black leather strap, complemented by a second rubber strap, also in black. Modern and refined, the piece features a white dial with silvered index hour markers and hands, filled with luminescent material.

Highlife Heart Beat

The icon that started it all

Over 25 years since the first Heart Beat timepiece, many collectors still associate Frederique Constant with this distinctive design today, which reveals the inner workings of its movement at midday. Through this aperture, those who truly appreciate mechanical timepieces can watch the rotation of the balance wheel in their watch, its beating heart.

The story behind this discreet aperture at 12 o’clock has much to do with youthful inexperience. In 1994, Frederique Constant was a new and entirely independent family-owned company enjoying phenomenal growth. The collections were rich, the new models diverse. It was a time for expansion, every detail exhibiting originality. The Heart Beat was an expression of this… which Frederique Constant neglected to protect! The design was never patented. Due to its success and the legal loophole that allowed for royalty-free use, countless brands have copied the Heart Beat aperture, with no benefit to Frederique Constant. The price of success!

The new Highlife Heart Beat collection revisits this iconic design and brings it into the 21st century. Located at the pole of the globe decoration on the dial, the famous aperture is finished with three luminescent hands. The design is understated, minimalist and as modern and unique as ever. You can look straight into the inner workings of the automatic FC-310 caliber with power reserve of 38 hours and admire it from both front and back through the sapphire crystal.

There are now three different versions of the Highlife Heart Beat to choose from. The first features a white dial and rose gold-plated case with a brown leather strap (complemented by a brown rubber strap), the second features a blue dial with a steel bracelet (complemented by a blue rubber strap) and the last features a black dial with a steel case and bracelet (complemented by a black rubber strap). Elegant and refined, sporty chic or modern and bold, each variation offers up an interpretation of the Heart Beat design, which more than a quarter of a century since it was created, has proven to transcend fashions and trends.

Highlife Automatic COSC

For chronometric purists

Rarely are watches certified by the COSC (Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute). This certificate is only issued to pieces that can guarantee perfect isochronism over a given time and at given positions – in effect, their ability to tell the time correctly, consistently and precisely, within the strict limits enforced by an ISO standard. The COSC is an independent Swiss organisation that only issues its chronometer certificates to these pieces after the watches have undergone numerous tests over several days.

COSC certified pieces form an elite, a class of their own, intended for collectors for whom “Swiss precision” is an everyday necessity. The Highlife Automatic COSC was developed especially for them.

This first COSC-certified watch from Frederique Constant was inspired by the original collection from 1999. Its movements already contained the highest quality components, meeting all the precision criteria for official Swiss chronometer certification. Now it is a fact.

The new Highlife Automatic COSC range brings together the best of the two other models with the three sleek hands of the Heart Beat and the date from the Perpetual Calendar Manufacture. This timepiece has been designed for everyday use and comes in two-tone, steel/blue dial and black leather/white dial versions. A fourth original creation complements this trio: a variation with a rose gold-plated case and a black dial mounted on a brown leather strap, complete with a rubber strap in the same shade. This model contrasts a traditional rose gold-plated case on a leather strap against a modern and bold monochrome dial, on which you can make out the globe decoration signature for the new Highlife collection.

The Highlife Automatic COSC is powered by the FC-310 caliber, which vibrates at 28,800 vph. Housed within 41 mm diameter casing, it can be admired through the sapphire crystal caseback.

A new chapter

The new Highlife collection sees Frederique Constant continue its primary mission. One that remains unchanged: bringing quality, reliable timepieces accessible to as many people as possible. With its completely redesigned case, the Highlife collection is modern and dynamic. Protected by a sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment on both sides, the globe decoration on each model reflects the desire of new collectors for responsible and sustainable watchmaking. Interchangeable straps make it exceptionally versatile, allowing each new Highlife to be urban, stylish or sporty. Valuable assets that open the doors of the 21st century.