Now, here’s a refreshing appearance from Frederique Constant. Amid the craze over the brand’s Manufacture lineup (which is very well deserved), there’s limited coverage of their other timepieces that don’t utilize in-house calibers. The Runabout series is one I recently spent some time with and the looks and build quality are impressive to say the least.
The Runabout lineup pays homage to the 1920s Runabout yachts, boats made of highly polished wood and chrome that accommodated four to eight people and were fairly adept at moving on the water. Carlo Riva is heralded as the manufacturer of the quintessential European runabout, and in 1998 a foundation in his name was created to preserve classic runabouts. Frederique Constant partnered with the Riva Historical Society to bring these limited edition watches to collectors.
The dial is simply and beautifully done, from its proportions and symmetry to its depth and texture. A guilloche pattern adorns the center of the dial, and moving outward the pattern meets a smooth surface on which the polished and applied Arabic numerals lie for each hour marker except those at the poles. At 12 and 6 o’clock are the chronograph minute and hour counters, each with a subtle circular graining on their subdials.
At 42mm, the mirror-polished stainless steel case is modernly sized and wearable for a wide range of wrists. Although it’s a little bit on the thick side at 14.5mm, that’s not outrageous at all for an automatic chronograph. The crown is signed with Frederique Constant’s logo while the chronograph pushers are decorated with a cross-hatching texture to enhance grip with starting, stopping and resetting the stopwatch.
Turn the watch over to see the caliber FC-393 25-jewel automatic chronograph movement with a custom gold-plated rotor through the sapphire display back. The Runabout Automatic Chronograph comes in a steel version, which is pictured here, accompanied by a blue alligator strap with a signed deployant buckle or a gold-plated version on brown alligator. If you were disappointed with the rather pedestrian pin buckle used on the Slimline Moonphase Manufacture, then you’ll be amazed at how well Frederique Constant can craft a buckle. It’s superb.
The Runabout is available now at authorized dealers and retails for $3,395 for the steel version and $3,695 for the gold version.