Despite the proliferation of smart watches nowadays, the main reason why watch lovers (such as the people who might be visiting this website) do not wear a smart watch, is because it is not a mechanical watch.
Indeed when the smart watch appeared on the horizon a few years ago, there were cries from every quarter, lamenting the sacrilege of adorning oneself with something that would become obsolete in a few years, while abandoning the centuries old traditions that watch lovers had come to appreciate deeply. And yet despite the protestations from the crowd, technology continued to march on and perhaps today has finally found a way to include everyone in its warm embrace, beginning possibly an electronic incursion into our mechanically preferred lives, in a weird yet strangely satisfying way.
Today, Frederique Constant introduces the world’s first Hybrid Manufacture Smartwatch that combines a full on, honest to goodness and totally legit mechanical movement with an electronic module for smart watch functions into a timepiece that I would gladly wear. The parts of this watch are things we are already familiar with – the in-house calibres of Frederique Constant are a known quantity with features we’ve come to expect, the characteristic pointer hand date, with variations containing other complications such as their worldtimer, moonphase, flyback chronograph and tourbillon available in their in-house mechanical watch line.
The other half of this watch is also an entity that we are somewhat already familiar with. Three years ago in 2015, Frederique Constant was the first to launch a Smart Watch called the Horological Smartwatch. I was fortunate to attend the launch of that watch in Tokyo in February of that year, and while it offered immense utility, containing sensors for its activity tracker and sleep monitoring functions whose results could be displayed in detail by way of a Bluetooth connection to one’s phone, as well as a useful pointer hand in the dial that could be programmed to display a percentage figure relating to different types of data, it did not, despite its classical good looks far and above the vein of the screen-based smart watches such as the Apple Watch, capture my heart.
Fundamentally speaking, for a mechanical watch lover like me, I’m used to the sight of a sweeping seconds hand, the swinging of the rotor on the watch, and the details of the movement along with the beating balance wheel as essential parts of the experience. And so while I appreciated the functions that the 2015 Horological Smartwatch was able to provide, I knew in my heart that it would not replace the beloved mechanical watches that I had come to know and love.
Today, that dilemma is no more, for what we have with the Frederique Constant Hybrid Manufacture Smartwatch is something that combines the best of both worlds. Now we will no longer have to choose sides on what we want from our watch, nor do those who are undecided have to continue enduring the indignity of wearing a smart watch on one wrist and a mechanical watch on another to simultaneously enjoy the benefits of both, while looking somewhat foolish at the same time.
Its all there in this watch, with the Hybrid Manufacture FC-750 Calibre within it having all the bits we love, the view of the movement from the back, the sweeping seconds hand, and so on. It is for all intents and purposes as we pick it up a fully mechanical one, with no obvious clues as to its other capabilities, save for the curious fact of the hands in the 12 o’clock sub-dial that don’t seem to accord to any complication we might know of.
It’s when you put a mobile phone next to it, (paired via Bluetooth in advance of course), that the magic happens, when through an app one can see the various things that this watch can measure.
In much the same way as the previous Horological Smartwatch, the fundamental functions related to health such as activity tracker, sleep monitoring and dynamic coach are all there. Another function relates to adjusting the 2nd time zone or the longer hand in the 12 o’clock sub-dial. These functions in sum are familiar and should not cause any major surprises. However there is one new function that certainly hasn’t been seen before in this manner, and what it is will definitely perk up the ears of those more horologically inclined among us.
What I’m speak of is Calibre Analytics, a new function in the electronic module in the watch that at 4am once a day, take the rate, amplitude and beat error of the watch, all to determine if the movement is running well or not. The data points are visible in graph form in the app, with the performance charted over time, and the current average visible as well. Like some modern cars that tell you when to change your tires via a tire sensor, this watch has something similar. With it having a mechanical heart after all, and with an electronic module in close proximity, it’s certainly a genius idea to use it in this way.
Speaking of the electronic module, it is not visible at all from the exterior of the watch, as it resides under the dial. One thing to note about it is that it comes with antimagnetic shielding against the interference of the electronic parts to the mechanical ones. Making up the electronic parts of the watch are the rechargeable 3v battery (7+ days power reserve), Bluetooth antenna, Accelerometer and Analytics Module.
With the unique characteristics of the watch being obvious enough, one also finds that it includes something quite rarely seen when one buys a new watch: an automatic winder. It doubles as a storage box that winds your watch, and at the same time charges the battery. The watch holder that is in the box is removable for a more compact package when traveling, and that is connectable via USB to charge the electronic functions.
4 versions available, 3 in stainless steel, and 1 rose gold plated.