The new Frederique Constant Yacht Timer Regatta Countdown is here to seas the day
What started of as a quartz affair in 1997 with Frederique Constant introducing for the first time in its collection a regatta timer has turned into a full fledged mechanical romance with the re-introduction of the Yacht Timer Regatta Countdown in its 2019 collection and its continuation through to this year.
Presenting the new Frederique Constant Yacht Timer Regatta Countdown. Essentially a dress watch with a tool watch function, the latest offering from the the brand has all the hallmarks of a classic watch with an added sporty complication.
A word to the wise: Now while the dressy look may appear to be at odds with its sporting function and the regatta timer may not have any real purpose besides sailing, you have to consider that not all dive watches are used for diving or aviation watches for flying or tachymetre scale watches for racing. My point is, it’s a good looking watch that does more than just tell the time.
Frederique Constant in 2020
So far until the release of the Yacht Timer Regatta Countdown, 2020 had been promising for the brand; and with this release I think it’s safe to say that it will continue to be despite the current global pandemic that is affecting businesses in general. During a recent interview with Niels Eggerding, Managing Director of FC, we learnt how the brand is set to come out on top.
“We have a very exciting year planned! Last year, we have been consolidating and preparing collections for an impactful year 2020. Despite the Covid-19 consequences, we are organising two key product launches. First, we innovated in smartwatch technologies again. Then, we will present a very typical design we have created for men, relaunching a product line aimed to please a new and younger audience.”
The new Frederique Constant Yacht Timer Regatta Countdown is a fine example. Additionally, their new 2020 novelties so far have been impressive as well. The brand has catered to both the men and the feminine markets with their new releases with the Flyback Chronograph and the Classics Art Déco Round respectively. The former offer classic appeal, handsome looks, high legibility and great value for money (3’895€); these chronographs are truly the embodiment of the brand’s values.
Coming back to the regatta watch, let’s sail further into the waters of yachting watches.
What’s a Regatta, and what’s it to do with watches
This release is for the nautical fans. Regattas are a series of boast races. These boat races need timers. The new Frederique Constant Yacht Timer Regatta Countdown is essentially a watch with a set of 2 five-minute timers.
The regatta watches are specifically designed for the individual sporting event of competitive sailing. Unlike say a track race event where all participants can be positioned up at the starting line, in regattas, the boats or yachts have to make their way to the starting line at a specific time. They can’t just be sitting there as they are traditionally powered by wind. But if they cross the starting line before the start of the race, they are prone to get penalised.
Usually fleet yacht races feature options of either a five, seven or 10-minute countdowns to the starting signal. Most common is the 5 minute (warning), 5 minute (final) countdown. So as the clock begins to count down from the first signal of the warning gun to the actual signal of the starting gun, there is usually this few minutes gap that is measured by these watches often in the form of circles seen on the dial with each circle representing one minute. Hence the sailors need a countdown timer to ensure they start with everyone else but from behind the starting line at the right time and at the right sailing speed. This is where the yacht timer watches come in handy.
Also, even if you are not a sailor that competes in races, but you still need a watch with a 5-minute or 10-minute timer to do whatever is it that you do in five to ten-minute intervals, here’s the watch for you.
The Internal Context
As mentioned above, FC re-released this collection in 2019. It was released in a few variants, reference FC-380ST4H6 in steel case with silver dial, reference FC-380NT4H4 in gold-plated steel case with blue or silver dial, and reference FC-380VT4H2B in two-tone case with silver dial.
Featuring polished and brushed finishings and tapered and curved lugs, these silver or navy blue guilloché dials featured applied indices and gold-plated hands with luminescence, along with a countdown function with five apertures on dial that change colour.
Additionally, the brand also has one other style under the Yacht Timer collection, the Yacht Timer GMT. In total, with the new 2020 release, they now offer 7 different variations for enthusiasts to choose from.
All the charm of this has been retained for the 2020 version that is presented with a different colour, the anthracite grey dial, and in my opinion, turns out to be a much better looking version.
The yacht timers or sailing watches have existed for decades. To simply put the new Frederique Constant Yacht Timer Regatta Countdown into context, here’s a list of some luxury competitors in the market: Rolex Yacht-Master II, Corum Admiral’s Cup AC-One 45 Tides, Bremont Regatta OTUSA, Ulysse Nardin Marine Regatta Chronograph, and Panerai Luminor 1950 Regatta Oracle Team USA 3 Days Chrono Flyback Automatic Titanio among others. But in all fairness, to create a handsome and nicely finished yacht timer for under 4k USD — RRP 3’495€ to be precise — is not only hard but also impressive. Of-course there are other cheaper options too, but they aren’t what would traditionally qualify for a luxury status or mechanical prowess like the Garmin Quatix 3, TNG Classic Tornado, Piquot Meridien Volantis, Suunto Elementum Ventus, or the Timex Intelligent Quartz Yacht Racer Pro. Again, nothing wrong with these offerings, if they float your boat, go for them; they are just not what the luxury watch seekers would traditionally go for.
In a nutshell, to be able to create a yacht timer and that too with luxurious finishes and a mechanical movement for a relatively low price is commendable. This also sits in line with how Niels Eggerding described the brand in our interview: “High-end finish Swiss timepieces with a classical touch at an accessible price.”
And this is where the new Frederique Constant Yacht Timer Regatta Countdown scores, and scores big.
Specifications of the Reference FC-380GT4H6B
The heart used — FC-380 caliber — is an automatic winding mechanical movement with countdown function that is a derivative of Sellita SW-500 (or similar to ETA 7750). It beats at the frequency of 4Hz (28’800 A/h), comprises of 25 jewels, and boasts of a 48-hour power reserve.
The movement is encased inside a 42mm diameter polished stainless steel 3-parts case that is thankfully water resistant up-to 100m (10 ATM).
The watch face shows the traditional functions of hours, minutes and seconds along with the 10 minutes regatta countdown circular timers between 10 and 2’o clock.
The grey dial comes to life with the combination of guilloché decoration and contrasting applied silver indexes infilled with lume. Further contrasting and aiding readability of the dial are the hand-polished silvered hours and minutes hands that are again in-filled with lume. The striking orange seconds hand not only contrasts well but also complements the colouring of the timer discs.
To pair down this dressy look, the watch comes on a sporty stainless steel bracelet made up of alternating polished and satin finished links, fastened with a folding buckle, along with a complimentary rubber strap.
The dial colour is essentially the only new feature in this release but to give credit where its due, it has been very nicely executed.
Watch Ya Gonna Do About It
The new Frederique Constant Yacht Timer Regatta Countdown may not be the most affordably priced offering from the brand compared to its in-house movement watches, but it surely is one of their nicest. And compared to other luxury watches outside of the brand, it’s pretty much a steal. The 2020 version of the Yacht Timer Regatta Countdown is a beautiful watch that happens to also have a cool added complication to it. Even without it, it’s a beaut.
But the countdown complication at the top of the dial is pretty impressive in its own right. It consists of 5 dots, with each dot representing 1 minute. The pusher at 2’o clock starts the first countdown, gradually turning all the dots from grey to white. When all 5 dots are white, 5 minutes have passed. The second countdown then begins automatically. This time, the 5 dots gradually turn orange. When the 5th and final dot has turned orange and the seconds hand is at 12’o clock, the regatta is officially underway.
Having a decent bit of history to it, after all its first iteration was a part of its Yacht Master collection that last year was renamed as Yacht Timer, it is a tribute to the love for sailing. With a built-in timer that counts down the critical 10 minutes before the races start, this is not one of those nautical inspired watches that exist just for the sake of it but due to the added chronograph complication is purpose built. Harping on the usefulness of the design, I am happy to note that the indexes are faceted to constantly display a shiny polished side that can be seen regardless of the sun’s angle. Ensuring legibility even under overcast days are the luminescent material in-filled hands and indexes. For those of you out there who sail or like to sail, or simply like to have watches in your collection that don’t all look the same, here’s an amazing offering. Also I don’t know about you guys but having a sort of 10 minute timer is pretty cool.
Even though we may all be isolated at some stage or another due to Covid-19, Frederique Constant continues to release new watches. Thankfully with them, The Row Must Go On. For more information on this watch and other Frederique Constant watches, head to their website here.