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Review of Frédérique Constant Maxime Manufacture Automatic

by Marco 5 January, 2010 View Comments

Frédérique Constant has set themselves apart from other luxury watch brands in its class. During its young history, the company has reached several plateaus of excellence such as the ability to conceive and manufacture mechanical movements entirely in-house. While this earns them a prestigious spot amongst so-called "Manufacture" brands, their prices don't reflect the moniker and the company's reputation for great value persists. The Frédérique Constant Maxime Manufacture is the a perfect example of the top quality and value offered by the FC collection of watches.

The Maxime Manufacture gets its name from its FC 700 calibre automatic movement, as the mechanism is conceived and manufactured entirely at the Frédérique Constant facilities in Geneva. It offers basic hour, minute, and date functions, but FC designers added their own personal twist by displaying the date via a small hand placed at six o'clock instead of the usual rotating ring. The finishing of the mechanism's bridges and plates is what you would expect from the more prestigious luxury manufacturers. Curved "Côte de Genève" decorate a beautifully, moon-shaped wheel bridge that puts into evidence the balance wheel. Fine "perlage" is applied to the other visible bridges and the balance cock, and blued screws are used to secure the whole. The rotor's body is cut out in order to offer a continuous view of all the movement's parts. Composing the outside edge of the rotor of a dense tungsten/copper alloy, and employing a bi-directional winding system are two features that ensure that the watch winds itself effectively. Decorative details such as engraved, burnished markings are also well appreciated.

The Maxime Manufacture is available in stainless steel or two-tone with an 18 karat rose gold bezel. The case embodies a traditional style. Simple and elegant with a rounded bezel and a convex sapphire crystal. As with the movement, a lot of importance is put on the finishing. The bezel is polished to a high gloss and the side of the case decorated with a brushed satin finish and polished bevelling. As can be expected, the watch doesn't fare too well in the water. A water resistance rating of 5 ATM is accorded to the timepiece. A screw locking crown is fitted non-the-less to the case as a protective feature.

The world's most beautiful timepieces are those who offer unexpected, small details highlighting the quality of manufacturing. The Maxime Regulator has captured this concept fantastically, and the back of its case is a perfect example. The back is fitted with a sapphire crystal to show off Frédérique Constant's in-house FC-700 movement, which is obviously - and rightly so - a great source of pride for the company. This leaves a ring of steel on which to mark the watch's characteristics and names. To do so, the designers use three different finishing techniques and a wonderful way of negatively engraving the lettering. By removing the metal around the letters a bas-relief is created; juxtaposing the bright, glossy finish of the markings with the soft, sand blasted texture below.

The face of the Maxime Manufacture that the world sees on your wrist is quietly elegant, and it only hints at the intricacies found beneath. The white, silvered dial is simply marked only with the company's name. Apart from the unusual way that the date is displayed, the dial does not brag about its superior manufacture movement. Sun-burst and hobnail patterns combine with applied steel or gold markers give the dial some relief. The elegant alpha hands are treated with photo-luminescent paint. The strap that is fitted on the watch is black or brown, semi-gloss alligator and is shaped to contour the case perfectly. A deploying folding clasp allows for easy release and protects the strap from wear.

Frédérique Constant released the Maxime Manufacture at last year's Basel Fair. It is a symbol of the company's dedication to creating high-quality and exclusive luxury watches without removing themselves from what they call the "accessible luxury segment" of watch brands. Features such as the FC 700 in house movement and fine workmanship of the Maxime will appeal to many watch enthusiasts and collectors, while its price point makes the piece also accessible to more prudent first-time buyers and value seekers. Overall, the Geneva manufacturer created a gorgeous, traditional watch that is amongst the best watches to pass under the radar in 2009.

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