Hands-on review of the Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph

A limited Edition of only 99 timepieces and a great price destined for the German market

Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph
Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph with both strap variants and Austin Healey model
Reading Time: 7 minutes

During this year’s Baselworld, I made all possible to visit the Frederique Constant booth. One of the watches that I enjoyed was the Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph, Ref. FC-397HNR5B6. This reverse panda dial is part of a special collection – the Vintage Rally. Frederique Constant dedicated, over the years, several series of watches to the Austin Healey vintage rally cars. Especially since the brand participated, as the Official Timekeeper, to the Peking to Paris Motor Challenge. These are my impressions about the Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph, Ref. FC-397HNR5B6.

Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph
Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph. The reviewed watch received some serious hits and scratches – perfect to see how the chrono will behave on serious, carefree wear.

Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph

I do enjoy the brand a lot. The good quality and affordable prices made me return to the Frederique Constant Boutiques. I ended owning, over the years, four of their timepieces. So the Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph was love at first site. Have a look at the wrist role below.

Watches and cars go hand in hand

The Frederique Constant and Austin Healey automobiles partnership is just one of the many existent today. Watches and cars, cars and watches go so well together. Most of the people passionate about mechanics enjoy watches and cars. And since the watches were used since the beginning of the rallying for timekeeping, there is no wonder how well these two objects end up often together.

An Aston Healey model car find in the retail package of the Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph watches
An Aston Healey NOJ393 model car find in the retail package of the Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph watches

The joint project of Frederique Constant and Austin Healey automobiles celebrates the fifteen-year partnership. The Vintage Chronograph embodies the connection between timeless, horological savoir-faire of Frederique Constant and the know-how of automotive engineering of Austin Healey automobiles.

Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph
For those familiar with Frederique Constant watches, the Vintage Rally chrono will be just like a blue déjà vu.

Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph – a beautiful line of vintage Chronos

The  Vintage Rally Healey follows the familiar design lines of the Frederique Constant watches. The beautiful steel case measures 42mm in diameter. The 14.45mm height is normal for this type of watch. The dimensions are balanced and make the watch look good.

Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph
The watch is designed from a series of curves, elegantly combined to give a vintage note to a modern construction.

One of the first detail that one can observe at this watch is the lack of sharp edges. All over the watch, the edges are rounded, all the surfaces are convex or bombe. Even the side case and the bezel are convex. The back case makes no exception.

Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph
Note on the fine curved lines that give the Vintage Rally Healey not only an elegant touch but also a comfortable wear.

The Healey chronograph was fitted with two lovely classic chrono pushers adorned with a hobnail pattern or clous de Paris. Again, the size and the shape are well integrated into the overall balanced design.

Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph side view
The side view of the Vintage Rally Healey

The crown is decorated with the brand logo and offers a good grip for setting and winding. As a personal remark: I have difficulties getting the crown in the second position for the setting. Otherwise, the watch is easy to wind and set. The chronograph function is also pleasant to use.

Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph dial
A splendid reverse panda dial that offers multiple decorations dedicated to a better legibility

An informative reverse panda dial

The Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph has a relative busy dial. The time display uses luminous alpha hands (or lance type). The hour hand reaches out to three-dimensional indexes: Arabic numerals for 12 and 6 o’clock and silver applied indices for the rest of the time. Except for 3 and 9 o’clock, where the chrono minutes, respectively small seconds subdials are placed. The hands and the indexes are filled with white SuperLuminova.

Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph dial
The chrono seconds’ hand hovers over an outer rail track

Apart from the hour indexes, all the information is printed on the dial using contrasting colours: black on white and white on blue. The watch offers excellent legibility.

The grey Healey logo is visible at 6 o’clock.

The small seconds, the chrono’s central seconds and the chrono’s minutes hands are painted in red. Not only the contrast and the legibility are enhanced, but also the entire dial’s beauty gains from this detail.

Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph small seconds subdial
The small-seconds subdial with 15 seconds numerals and bold indices

The 30-minutes chronograph uses a central seconds red hand. The two chapter rings, black printed indexes on a white background and, the second, raised track with white indexes on a blue background offer a precise readout.

Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph 30-min counter
The 30-min counter uses negative printed indexes. I think the readout is well enhanced using this subterfuge.

Despite the fact that the Vintage Rally Healey has a relative busy dial, all the details are used to enhance the legibility. The proportions are well chosen: the length of the hands, the raised outer chapter ring, the size and shape of the indexes. I simply cannot complain about any of these elements. I can rather say that I found them not only cute but also useful.

The Swiss beating hearth

The Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph is powered by the Calibre FC-397. This automatic chronograph movement is based on an ETA/Valjoux workhorse or a Selita Sw510 (most probably, since the brand uses various Selita movements). How much personalisation was made, I have no idea. Certain is that the calibre will be robust and easily serviceable.

Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph back
The screwed in back case features a see-through sapphire, revealing the FC397 movement. Note that this watch was a prototype and does not feature the final engravings. Also, the reference number is not the correct one.

Judging after the simplicity of the finishes (just an overall polish) that also the movement is not finished to the final stage. The Frederique Constant decoration, even if machine made, include perlage, Geneva waves and other small but significant details. 

After revisiting the pictures and having a look at the other Vintage Rally Healey Chronographs, I noticed that this simplicity of the movement is present in several timepieces. While the polished movement is not unpleasant, it is unusual, at least for me, to see this lack of decoration in this watch – a Frederique Constant piece. Maybe it has to do with the relatively low price. A rich decoration will result in an increased price. Taking that into account, the price justifies the product (or the product justifies the price). But these are only speculations.

Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph back
The gold plated rotor weight with Frederique Constant engraving is present on all automatic watches from the brand.

The Aston Healey Chronograph has a power reserve of 46 hours. This is achieved using a 4Hz or 28’800alt/h, 25 jewels and a single barrel.

The retail package

For 2.595€, including free shipping, Frederique Constant offers a nice package. The watch comes with two straps: a blue leather strap with red stitches and an additional sportive textile strap, red and blue.

Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph
The Austin Healey Chronograph with the leather and textile strap

Both straps look and fit superb the Vintage Rally Healey theme. The red accents on a blue background is a lovely combination for a watch.

Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph
On the textile strap, the movement is covered by the NATO style band.

The pin buckle is a Frederique Constant standard type with the brand’s logo engraved.

Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph
Steel pin buckle of the Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph

The retail package also contains an Austin Healey model car with metallic green paint. Gorgeous model.

Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph
Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph with both strap variants and Austin Healey model

Final Impressions

I really enjoy the Austin Healey Collection and the Vintage Rally Chronograph. While the older versions are nice and with an exquisite well taste colour selection, this blue white red theme is the dearest to me.

Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph
My favourite piece from the Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph

The watch is absolutely amazing. It was love at the first site. Being acquainted with the Austin Healey Collection of Frederique Constant, I can surely say that this last piece is my all time favourite. Great looking watch, with a precise readout and an amazing retail package at a good price. It is not easy to find something similar on the market.

 

Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph Limited Edition Technical Specifications and Price

Reference: FC-397HNR5B6

Case:

  • Polished stainless steel 2-parts case,
  • Diameter: 42 mm
  • 14,45 mm flat
  • Convex sapphire crystal
  • See-through case back
  • Water-resistant up to 5 ATM

Movement:

  • FC-397 Automatic Chronograph
  • 28’800 alt/h, 25 jewels

Dial:

  • Blue colour dial with white counters and silver applied indexes,
  • luminous hand polished silver hour and minute hands,
  • luminous and red second and counter hands

Strap:

  • Blue leather strap with red stitches
  • Additional sportive textile strap, red and blue

Functions:

  • Hours,
  • minutes,
  • seconds,
  • mechanical chronograph

Power reserve: 46h

Price: 2.595€ – Free shipping (no hidden fee) (CHF 2,595 / USD 2,795)

Limited edition: 99 pieces

For more information, please visit the Frederique Constant Website.

3 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

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