Frédérique Constant Manufacture Tourbillon with Silicium Escapement Wheel

Frédérique Constant introduces a World Premiere: a Tourbillon watch with Silicium Escapement Wheel. Based on its award-winning Heart Beat Manufacture Calibre, Frédérique Constant developed its Tourbillon fully in-house with a number of unique features:

  • Silicium Escapement Wheel
  • Smart Weight Balancing
  • Fast Oscillation at 28’800 BpH
  • Tourbillon Cage individually numbered

In 2007, Frédérique Constant introduced a limited edition Heart Beat Manufacture watch with a Silicium Escapement Wheel.

It has following three main advantages:-

Lubricant-free running
Age-related thinning and drying of lubrication will no longer occur
An escapement wheel without oiling avoids the risk that oil spreads to other parts of the movement.

Very light (low inertia)
The escapement wheel is accelerated and stopped at each tick and tock of the watch.
The lower weight silicium escapement wheel has lower inertia, increasing energy efficiency.

Good friction properties
Lower friction reduces loss of energy, hence the energy requirement for the calibre is lower.

With its three main advantages compared to a regular escapement wheel, a Silicium escapement wheel is particularly useful in a Tourbillon mechanism. In particular, the reduced weight of the Silicium escapement wheel and the better friction properties result in a substantially higher energy efficiency. As a result, the Frédérique Constant Tourbillon with Silicium escapement wheel has an amplitude of over 300 degrees in dial-up and dial-down positions. Even in the crown-down position, it is over 275 degrees, which is substantially better than the performance of other high-end tourbillons.

The Frédérique Constant Tourbillon Cage consists of 80 parts. Each of these parts is produced to the highest possible tolerance, with a precision of 1-2 micron (0.001-0.002 mm). Many of the parts are produced on Frédérique Constant’s ultra precise CNC machine in Plan-les-Ouates. This CNC machine of the latest custom-made generation has a tolerance of 1 micron on the X and Y axes and 2 micron on the Z axe.

Even with such a high degree of precision, it is impossible to have a 100% equal distribution of weight in the individual parts; for a Tourbillon to run accurately, an equal distribution of weight is essential. Frédérique Constant solved this problem by a “Smart Screw” system on the outer edge of the Tourbillon cage.

At first, the Tourbillon cage is constructed with a slight over-weight opposite the Smart Screw system on the main Cage Wheel. Thereafter, a highly skilled watchmaker is able to balance the weight into the center of the Tourbillon cage by adding or exchanging tiny metal rings under the two screws on the main cage wheel. Typically, 8 hours are required for a watchmaker to adjust the tiny rings and balance the weight perfectly for the entire Tourbillon cage.

The Frédérique Constant Tourbillon runs at 4 Hertz whereby the balance wheel beats 28’800 times per hour. Hence, in a Frédérique Constant Tourbillon, the balance wheel swings 28,800 times an hour and the gear train moves forward 691,200 times in 24 hours. In four years, this represents over one billion impulses.

Most competing Tourbillons run at 3 Hertz only. The higher ‘Beats per Hour’ (BpH) enable a higher accuracy of the Tourbillon calibre. The higher oscillation also makes the calibre less susceptible to gyration effects.

Each Tourbillon cage is individually numbered to show the Limited Edition of 188 pieces. The minuscule top plate in the center of the Tourbillon cage is sequentially numbered during production on the Frédérique Constant CNC machine. The number on the cage will match the Limited Edition number on the case, making the combination of calibre and case unique.

Gravity is one of the main causes of rate variations of the balance wheel in watches. The rate of the balance wheel should be perfectly constant to ensure accurate timekeeping of a watch. A Tourbillon mechanism eliminates errors of rate in the various vertical positions of a watch and therefore compensates for the effects of gravity on a watch.

The Frédérique Constant Tourbillon consists of a mobile cage, driven by the gear train, carrying the balance wheel and escapement. Every time the balance wheel receives an impulse, the cage rotates slightly with all the elements it contains. The cage turns co-axially and makes one revolution per minute, so that the error of rate will automatically be compensated while the Tourbillon cage travels through the opposite position.

Of all the delicate, complex mechanisms invented by watchmakers over  the centuries, the Tourbillon is one of the most complicated. A Tourbillon mechanism is extremely complex to manufacture due to the required accuracy of all the parts involved. The Tourbillon is also valued for its engineering and design principles. Only very few and only the very best watchmakers have the necessary skills to manufacture a Tourbillon watch successfully.

The Tourbillon is one of the most valued and sought-after complications by collectors and aficionados of premium timepieces alike. The Frédérique Constant Tourbillon design allows the tourbillon mechanism to be seen through a large aperture in the watch dial at six o’clock. In addition to enhancing the charm of the timepiece, the Tourbillon cage with its incorporated hand acts as a second indicator as it rotates once per minute.

The Frédérique Constant Tourbillon is equipped with an Incabloc shock absorber. In this device, the balance wheel ruby jewel in which the pivot turns is mounted in a conical setting, which itself is placed in a solid truncated cone in the center of the Tourbillon cage. When a lateral or axial shock occurs, the setting slides into the cone, thus allowing the pivot to transfer the shock to the frame.

Next to the Tourbillon mechanism, Frédérique Constant incorporated a Day-Night complication into the calibre. Finally, great care has been taken in all the aesthetic details of the movement: Côtes de Genève and perlage decoration, anglage (chamfer) and rhodiage (rhodium plating) on all the bridges, as well as heated blued steel screws.

Technical details

Frédérique Constant Manufacture Tourbillon
Reference: FC-980MC4H9 – Limited Edition 188 pieces

Movement
Automatic, Calibre FC-980. One minute Tourbillon, balance-cock on dial side. Diameter 30.50mm (13 ¼ ), 28.800 BpH, 33 jewels, Incabloc anti-shock system, Glucydur balance, Nivarox No. 1 balance spring, power reserve 48 hours, bridges decorated with Côtes de Genève and perlage, finished anglage and rhodiage. 188 components; each movement individually numbered.

Functions
Hours, Minutes, Seconds, Day-Night Indicator

Case
18K Rose Gold, round shape, two-piece case, diameter 42mm, thickness 11 mm, antireflective convex sapphire crystal, antireflective sapphire crystal case back, case back secured with 8 screws, water-resistant to 3 atm. Each case individually numbered.

Dial
Silvered, Clou de Paris in dial centre
Fine black Roman numerals, black steel hands, rose gold and blued steel day-night indicator

Strap
Genuine hand-stitched Alligator leather with water-resistant lining; additional folding buckle included.

Retail Price
Euro 28’800,-

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