When Swiss luxury watchmaker Frederique Constant opened the doors to its newest store at The Podium, one of its stars was its Hybrid line —a “mechanical watch with smarts” and a first worldwide. Combining a mechanical in-house caliber with smart functions connected via an app, the Hybrid line embodies the innovativeness and daring that has kept Frederique Constant among the top-selling premium watch brands.
To appreciate Frederique Constant, it is important to know its history and what it stands for.
The watchmaker traces its roots to 1904, when Constant Stas started a company that made printed clock dials for the watch industry. Eighty-four years later, his fourth generation descendant Peter Stas—along with his wife Aleta Bax—founded Frederique Constant Geneve, a combination of his great-grandfather’s name and that of his business partner, Frederique Schreiner.
Prior to founding Frederique Constant, the Netherlands-born Peter Stas had worked as a product-marketing manager at Royal Philips Electronics and as a consultant.
His watch-making heritage, informed by consumer affinity and consulting insight, may have been the prescient yet precise mix that led to Frederique Constant concocting its secret sauce for success: accessible luxury.
Accessible luxury is the company’s positioning—and the driving spirit behind the timepieces it makes.
According to William Besse, Frederique Constant Geneve sales director for the Middle East, India, and Southeast Asia, “accessible” and “luxury” are two words that seem like they should not go together, yet, the combination still makes sense.
“When you take about Swiss-made, you expect luxury; and using the word accessible, or affordable, some people can be disturbed a little bit—that is exactly what we want,” Besse begins.
“We want to shock people: you can have luxury, without spending too much,” he continues.
Besse explains that there is space in the market for accessible luxury. Their sales figures bear this out: Frederique Constant ranks among the top 10 premium watch brands sold.
Why spend more when you can have it for less?
The company can afford to keep costs accessible because its timepieces are developed, produced and assembled in-house in its two-building campus in Geneva.
While the company enjoys a watchmaking heritage, and manufacturing capability that keeps costs low, it also relies on innovation and technology.
Besse describes his company as having a culture that embraces innovation, being free to dare and try. It helps Frederique Constant “enlarge its capacities.”
Which brings us back to the Hybrid, with its three technologies: manufacture movement, smart watch functionality, and caliber analytics. Unveiled this year in partnership with actor and advocate Mark Ruffalo, the Hybrid— touted as the World’s First 3.0 Watch—is an elegant paradox: a watch for people who love the classics, while also valuing technology and innovation.
It is also an excellent metaphor for Frederique Constant’s philosophy: bringing together seemingly disparate ideals, and turning these into commercial successes.
“We see it very clearly – there is space for everyone,” Besse concludes.
Frederique Constant’s newly opened store is located at The Podium. The Geneva-heaquartered brand is distributed in the Philippines by the Jacinto-owned Timeline Group.