Frederique Constant Heart Beat History
In 1994, Frédérique Constant developed its first Heart Beat watch. The purpose of the Heart Beat development was to show that these Frédérique Constant watches were mechanical. Heart Beat watches have an aperture at the position of the balance wheel to show that the movement of the watch is mechanical.
Early in the 1990’s, automatic mechanical watches were slowly making their return to the market after the quartz crisis of the 1970-1980’s. Typically such mechanical watches looked similar to quartz watches except that the second hand moved continuously. On quartz watches, the second hand makes 60 steps per minute. At Frédérique Constant, we considered it important to better show the difference between mechanical and quartz watches.In a mechanical watch, the balance wheel beats 28’800 times per hour. The balance wheel rotates clockwise and counter clockwise on its axes in a large ruby jewel. Its rotation is controlled by the hairspring, which constantly coils and uncoils, and can be seen through the open eye of the Heart Beat watches.
The forgotten registration
In 1994, Frédérique Constant as a company was growing fast but still relatively small. Without an internal legal department and insufficient management attention, a big mistake was made. The Heart Beat feature should have been deposited as a design registration. Possibly a patent could have been secured. Instead, without any registration, first Frédérique Constant Heart Beat watches were introduced in the market. It only took one year before the first Heart Beat copies started to appear. Some competitors plainly copied the Heart Beat opening in their watches. Some other competitors changed the shape of the Heart Beat opening but inherently still copied the Heart Beat feature.
Heart Beat Complications
With copy Heart Beat watches in the market, it was too late to still register the Heart Beat feature. To reinforce Frédérique Constant as the creator of the original Heart Beat, a strategy was developed to introduce every few years new Heart Beat calibers with Complications. In 1998, we introduced the Heart Beat Day-Date, a caliber development in co-operation with Dubois-Depraz. In 1999, we followed with the Heart Beat Perpetual, also a development in co-operation with Dubois Depraz. Finally in 2001, we introduced the Heart Beat Retrograde, a caliber co-operation with Agenhor of Geneve.
Start development Heart Beat Manufacture
Internal discussions on the development of new Heart beat Complications focused often on design issues with the original Heart Beat watches. As these Heart Beat watches were all made based on existing caliber ebauches, we were bound by the basic design of these calibers. One of the issues was that the balance wheel was very deep inside the Heart Beat opening. It would be a major improvement if we could bring the Balance Wheel more to the front side of the caliber, making it more visible. Another issue was that the Spiral, the most important component of a mechanical watch, was on the backside of the caliber. After many discussions, we finally concluded to develop our own caliber and solve these issues once and for all. In 2001, we started the development of the Heart Beat Manufacture with characteristic bridge for the Balance Wheel on the front side of the caliber. Having the bridge for the Balance Wheel on front side of the caliber enabled to have the Spiral and Fine Regulation on the front side as well, creating a much more appealing Heart Beat design. This construction was completely new and enabled Frédérique Constant to apply for a patent. This time, also all designs were properly registered before market introduction.
Continuing Heart Beat Developments
Developing and producing the first Heart Beat Manufacture took over three years. It was a major development in co-operation with the the École d'Horlogerie de Genève, École d'Ingenieurs de Genève and the Horloge Vakschool Zadkine. In 2004, the manual version of the Heart Beat Manufacture was introduced with major success. In 2005, we followed with the version with Moonphase and Date, still with manual winding. Now in 2006, the first Automatic Heart Manufacture will be launched. Future versions of the caliber are in development.
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