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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The pin buckle is a Frederique Constant standard type with the brand’s logo engraved.
The retail package also contains an Austin Healey model car with metallic green paint. Gorgeous model.
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.
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
- 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
- FC-397 Automatic Chronograph
- 28’800 alt/h, 25 jewels
- 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
- Blue leather strap with red stitches
- Additional sportive textile strap, red and blue
- 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.