Frederique Constant Slimline Monolithic Manufacture – 40Hz

Frederique Constant Slimline Monolithic Manufacture
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Frederique Constant unveils a technological breakthrough in the field of precision timekeeping. Redefining the principles of mechanical watch regulation, the Slimline Monolithic Manufacture delivers industry-leading precision by ticking ten times faster than most mechanical movements. Etched from silicon, its oscillator replaces an assembly of several parts and eliminates many of the major weaknesses of mechanical watches. Thanks to its specific design and reduced size, the revolutionary high-frequency oscillator has been designed to fit inside a traditional movement configuration. Housed inside a 40mm case with an aperture on the dial to view the oscillator, this cutting-edge technology is available at a price that respects the brand’s commitment to accessible luxury.

The way mechanical watches are regulated has not changed during the last three centuries. The invention of the sprung balance in the 17th century has exerted a lasting influence on mechanical watchmaking. Since then, mechanical watches have relied almost exclusively on the sprung balance. Consisting of a thin, coiled spring attached to the balance wheel, it allows the balance to oscillate back and forth at a constant frequency. In doing so, it controls the speed at which the gears of the watch rotate and influences the rate. Although it has been improved over time, the principle of the sprung balance has remained unchanged and virtually unchallenged for over three centuries.

The basic principle behind a mechanical watch is as follows:

Energy → Transmission → Escapement → Oscillator

The energy (stored by a coiled spring in a watch) is released in discrete bursts by the regulating organ, which is comprised of an escapement and an oscillator. The escapement transmits impulses to the oscillator (the balance wheel for the vast majority of mechanical wristwatches). The escapement, in turn, is regulated by the oscillator. Each oscillation, therefore, allows the gear train to advance or “escape” a determined amount.

Frederique Constant Slimline Monolithic Manufacture

Compliant or flexible mechanisms are the next big thing in watchmaking and open a new realm of possibilities. Given the elastic properties of certain materials like silicon, it is possible to create compact, precise monolithic single-piece components to replace some of the assembled mechanical parts. Frederique Constant now uses these flexible, jointless structures in the design of its revolutionary oscillator. A groundbreaking concept and a breakthrough in the field of precision mechanical timekeeping, the Slimline Monolithic Manufacture is equipped with a movement ticking at an astounding 288,000 vibrations per hour, ten times faster than most mechanical watches!

Frederique Constant Slimline Monolithic Manufacture

Frederique Constant replaces the 26 components of its standard assortment with a single component fitted with two regulation weights. Made of monocrystalline silicon, the Monolithic oscillator also integrates the escapement anchor in its flexible structure. Three novel innovations distinguish the oscillator:

Frederique Constant replaces the 26 components of its standard assortment with a single component fitted with two regulation weights. Made of monocrystalline silicon, the Monolithic oscillator also integrates the escapement anchor in its flexible structure. Three novel innovations distinguish the oscillator: 1. A revolutionary small-size one-piece oscillator. Thanks to the geometry of flexures and masses, it is possible to produce for the first time a flexible pivot oscillator in the footprint of a traditional balance wheel 2. An ultrathin oscillator with a new anchor system. The escapement anchor is incorporated into the oscillator and, for the first time, its function is integrated into the flexures allowing a substantial reduction in size while keeping all the functions in one thin silicon layer 3. Adjustment weights to regulate the flexure oscillator just like those used on a traditional free-sprung balance. Watchmakers can easily fine-tune the frequency and precision by simply turning two weights

  1. A revolutionary small-size one-piece oscillator. Thanks to the geometry of flexures and masses, it is possible to produce for the first time a flexible pivot oscillator in the footprint of a traditional balance wheel
  2. An ultrathin oscillator with a new anchor system. The escapement anchor is incorporated into the oscillator and, for the first time, its function is integrated into the flexures allowing a substantial reduction in size while keeping all the functions in one thin silicon layer
  3. Adjustment weights to regulate the flexure oscillator just like those used on a traditional free-sprung balance. Watchmakers can easily fine-tune the frequency and precision by simply turning two weights

Frederique Constant replaces the 26 components of its standard assortment with a single component fitted with two regulation weights. Made of monocrystalline silicon, the Monolithic oscillator also integrates the escapement anchor in its flexible structure. Three novel innovations distinguish the oscillator: 1. A revolutionary small-size one-piece oscillator. Thanks to the geometry of flexures and masses, it is possible to produce for the first time a flexible pivot oscillator in the footprint of a traditional balance wheel 2. An ultrathin oscillator with a new anchor system. The escapement anchor is incorporated into the oscillator and, for the first time, its function is integrated into the flexures allowing a substantial reduction in size while keeping all the functions in one thin silicon layer 3. Adjustment weights to regulate the flexure oscillator just like those used on a traditional free-sprung balance. Watchmakers can easily fine-tune the frequency and precision by simply turning two weights

Thanks to the clever engineering of the oscillator’s flexures and geometry, Frederique Constant’s team reduced its dimensions to the size of a conventional regulator and increased its frequency for enhanced accuracy. While many traditional mechanical movements operate at a frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour, the Monolithic Manufacture represents the first Swiss-made mechanical watch oscillating ten times faster at an astonishing 288,000 vibrations per hour, or 40 Hz. Despite this high-speed frequency, the efficiency of the mechanism delivers a substantial 80-hour power reserve.

Thanks to the clever engineering of the oscillator's flexures and geometry, Frederique Constant’s team reduced its dimensions to the size of a conventional regulator and increased its frequency for enhanced accuracy. While many traditional mechanical movements operate at a frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour, the Monolithic Manufacture represents the first Swiss-made mechanical watch oscillating ten times faster at an astonishing 288,000 vibrations per hour, or 40 Hz. Despite this high-speed frequency, the efficiency of the mechanism delivers a substantial 80-hour power reserve.

The Genesis – A Collaboration with Flexous

The idea behind the Monolithic Oscillator was born during an encounter between Peter Stas, co-founder and former CEO of Frederique Constant, and Dr Nima Tolou, founder and CEO of Flexous, an innovative horology-oriented technology branch of YES!Delft, a leading Dutch tech incubator. Following their encounter, the Frederique Constant team commissioned Flexous with the production of a unique, flexible oscillating system with distinctive specifications.

leading Dutch tech incubator. Following their encounter, the Frederique Constant team commissioned Flexous with the production of a unique, flexible oscillating system with distinctive specifications.

Gathering high profile, multi-disciplinary expertise, a joint project between the Frederique Constant and Flexous teams was launched. The distinctive technical objectives for an innovative flexure oscillator were straightforward:

  •  A size comparable to that of a traditional balance to fit inside a standard movement with minor adjustments
  • The highest possible frequency
  • An 80-hour power reserve
  • A cost-effective formula that would allow the manufacture of significant quantities at a reasonable price

Gathering high profile, multi-disciplinary expertise, a joint project between the Frederique Constant and Flexous teams was launched. The distinctive technical objectives for an innovative flexure oscillator were straightforward: 1. A size comparable to that of a traditional balance to fit inside a standard movement with minor adjustments 2. The highest possible frequency 3. An 80-hour power reserve 4. A cost-effective formula that would allow the manufacture of significant quantities at a reasonable price

A Revolution in Precision Timekeeping – The Monolithic Oscillator

The new topology of the flexures and masses has permitted the creation of an unprecedented compact size for a flexure pivot oscillator (9.8mm in diameter and 0.3mm in thickness). For the very first time, the anchor has been integrated within the flexure. The revolutionary design combines high-frequency (40 Hz) with low amplitude (6° versus ~300° for a regular balance wheel).

Frederique Constant Slimline Monolithic Manufacture

The choice of material for the oscillator eliminates key weaknesses of traditional sprung balances. Monocrystalline silicon is 100% anti-magnetic, resilient to oscillations in temperature, less sensitive to gravity and four times lighter than a regular assortment. The absence of mechanical coupling means a lower generation of friction and wear on the parts. Consequently, less power is needed to drive the escapement wheel and the oscillating system. This results in reduced force between the components: 2.5 times less torque/couple is generated. In particular, the energy waste related to the stop and go motion of the Swiss lever escapement are eliminated. Finally, yet importantly, silicon does not require lubrication. This enhances the long-term reliability of the escapement and avoids the oiling demands generated by high frequency.

The choice of material for the oscillator eliminates key weaknesses of traditional sprung balances. Monocrystalline silicon is 100% anti-magnetic, resilient to oscillations in temperature, less sensitive to gravity and four times lighter than a regular assortment. The absence of mechanical coupling means a lower generation of friction and wear on the parts. Consequently, less power is needed to drive the escapement wheel and the oscillating system. This results in reduced force between the components: 2.5 times less torque/couple is generated. In particular, the energy waste related to the stop and go motion of the Swiss lever escapement are eliminated. Finally, yet importantly, silicon does not require lubrication. This enhances the long-term reliability of the escapement and avoids the oiling demands generated by high frequency.

The rate regulation is performed using adjustment weights, just like the system used in a traditional free-sprung balance. The setting system is extremely precise, dividing time intervals in hundredths of a second versus tenths of a second for regular mechanical movements running at a 4Hz frequency.

The rate regulation is performed using adjustment weights, just like the system used in a traditional free-sprung balance. The setting system is extremely precise, dividing time intervals in hundredths of a second versus tenths of a second for regular mechanical movements running at a 4Hz frequency.

Given the innovative design of the escapement, the traditional devices to measure the rate of the movement (which rely on the ticking sound of the movement) are inoperative. To calculate the average rate in seconds per day, laser cameras taking 250,000 images per second were used.

Frederique Constant Slimline Monolithic Manufacture

The 30th Movement from Frederique Constant’s Manufacture

It soon became apparent to Frederique Constant’s watchmakers that a traditional gear train could not cope with the breakneck speed of a 40Hz regulator. This led to the design of a completely new base movement – automatic calibre FC-810 – capable of performing with the speed of the new silicon oscillator. The entire kinetic chain had to be re-engineered, and the gear train was fitted with four wheels between the barrel and the escape pinion, instead of the three wheels found in a conventional movement. However, the efficiency of the regulator still manages to deliver a substantial 80-hour power reserve.

Frederique Constant Slimline Monolithic Manufacture

In a regular mechanical movement beating at 28,800 vibrations per hour, the seconds hand makes eight moves to complete one second. With the FC-810 Monolithic Manufacture calibre, the seconds hand performs 80 moves per second. It delivers the smoothest possible motion of a seconds hand as it ticks faster than the eye can see!

Frederique Constant Slimline Monolithic Manufacture

Slimline Monolithic Manufacture

The Frederique Constant Slimline Monolithic Manufacture is the first model to bear this groundbreaking movement.

Frederique Constant Slimline Monolithic Manufacture

Presented in a 40mm round case, the new watch features an elegant dial with a guilloché/stamped hobnail pattern, printed Roman numerals paired with Breguet-style hands. The signature Frederique Constant Heart Beat was the perfect model to showcase the pulsating oscillator of the watch in an aperture at 6 o’clock. The pointer date at 12 o’clock creates a classic counterpoint to the high-tech oscillator at 6 o’clock.

Frederique Constant Slimline Monolithic Manufacture

On the reverse side, an exhibition caseback offers an unimpeded view of the automatic FC-810 calibre. Its traditional decoration combines Geneva stripes with perlage, and the oscillating weight is openworked.

Frederique Constant Slimline Monolithic Manufacture

The model is available in three limited editions: 810 pieces in stainless steel with a blue dial, 810 pieces in stainless steel with a silver colour dial and 81 pieces in 18k pink gold.

Frederique Constant Slimline Monolithic Manufacture

In conclusion, the Slimline Monolithic Manufacture is a beautiful combination of classic watchmaking and high-tech innovation.

Frederique Constant Slimline Monolithic Manufacture

In the words of Niels Eggerding, Managing Director of Frederique Constant: “The new Slimline Monolithic Manufacture embodies Frederique Constant’s visionary spirit, determination and passion for watchmaking know-how.

Frederique Constant Slimline Monolithic Manufacture

Dr Nima Tolou, CEO of Flexous Mechanisms, comments: “We are very proud of this exciting result and all done in only about two years, from concept to a product in a selling watch. We are proud of the synergy achieved in this unique Frederique Constant-Flexous project.”

Frederique Constant Slimline Monolithic Manufacture

About Flexous Mechanisms

Flexous Mechanisms is an independent horology technology company specialized in the design and development of flexible watch parts with the focus on mechanical watches. Flexous was founded in 2012 in Delft, The Netherlands, as a spin-off of an internationally leading group in the field of flexible mechanisms at Delft University of Technology. We develop and produce custom-made innovative watch parts from concept to product. Working together with like-minded watch brands and watch part producers, we bridge the fields of traditional watch making and 21st century flexible mechanism design. We strive to become the most forward-thinking innovative technology provider in horology. Our vision is to eventually provide flexible watch parts for the main components in a watch and set new world boundaries for accuracy, precision, and runtime with a highly innovative approach. Flexous.com

Frederique Constant Slimline Monolithic Manufacture – 40Hz Technical Specifications and Price

Slimline Monolithic Manufacture Reference FC-810MC3S6

Slimline Monolithic Manufacture Reference FC-810MC3S6

Functions

  • Hours, minutes, seconds, date

Movement

  • FC-810 Manufacture caliber, automatic, Heart Beat, silicon monolithic oscillator, date adjustable by the crown
  • Perlage, circular satin-finishing, anglage and circular Côtes de Genève decorations
  • 80-hour power reserve, 288’000 alt/h, 40HZ
  • 130 components including 19 jewels

Case

  • Polished stainless steel 3-part case
  • Diameter 40 mm
  • Front convex sapphire crystal
  • See-through case-back
  • Water-resistant up to 3 ATM

Dial

  • Silver color dial with guilloché clous de Paris decoration and printed black roman numerals
  • Hand-polished black hands
  • Date counter at 12 o’clock
  • Open heart showing the ocsillator at 6 o’clock

Strap

  • Black alligator leather strap

Price

  • €4,495 EUR

Limited edition Limited to 810 pieces

Slimline Monolithic Manufacture Reference FC-810MCN3S6

Slimline Monolithic Manufacture Reference FC-810MCN3S6

Functions

  • Hours, minutes, seconds, date

Movement

  • FC-810 Manufacture caliber, automatic, Heart Beat, silicon monolithic oscillator, date adjustable by the crown
  • Perlage, circular satin-finishing, anglage and circular Côtes de Genève decorations
  • 80-hour power reserve, 288’000 alt/h, 40HZ
  • 130 components including 19 jewels

Case

  • Polished stainless steel 3-part case
  • Diameter 40 mm
  • Front convex sapphire crystal
  • See-through case-back
  • Water-resistant up to 3 ATM

Dial

  • Blue dial with guilloché clous de Paris decoration and printed white roman numerals
  • White hands
  • Date counter at 12 o’clock
  • Open heart showing the ocsillator at 6 o’clock

Strap

  • Navy blue alligator leather strap

Price

  • €4,495 EUR

Limited edition Limited to 810 pieces

Slimline Monolithic Manufacture Reference FC-810MC3S9

Slimline Monolithic Manufacture Reference FC-810MC3S9

Functions

  • Hours, minutes, seconds, date

Movement

  • FC-810 Manufacture caliber, automatic, Heart Beat, silicon monolithic oscillator, date adjustable by the crown
  • Perlage, circular satin-finishing, anglage and circular Côtes de Genève decorations
  • 80-hour power reserve, 288’000 alt/h, 40HZ
  • 130 components including 19 jewels

Case

  • Polished 18K rose gold 3-part case
  • Diameter 40 mm
  • Front convex sapphire crystal
  • See-through case-back
  • Water-resistant up to 3 ATM

Dial

  • Silver color dial with guilloché clous de Paris decoration and printed black roman numerals
  • Hand-polished black hands
  • Date counter at 12 o’clock
  • Open heart showing the ocsillator at 6 o’clock

Strap

  • Brown alligator leather strap

Price

  • €14,995 EUR

Limited edition Limited to 81 pieces

Frederique Constant Slimline Monolithic Manufacture Gallery

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