While Frederique Constant fake watches is widely talked about as one of the rare Swiss brands to offer smartwatches, the brand remains focused on the mechanical watch, which makes up the vast majority of its output. It has just launched a renewed Highlife collection. CEO Niels Eggerding talks about the adaptations the company has made in response to the pandemic.
Read Also REPLICA WATCHES: IS THE NFT HYPE OVER?
Frederique Constant’s production oscillates between two worlds that are often placed in opposition. On the one hand, the brand founded in 1988 continues its exploration of mechanical models, which are its core business. The latest highlight of this avenue of inquiry is the recently relaunched Highlife collection.
On the other hand, in 2020 the brand, a pioneer in the hybridization of traditional and connected watchmaking, presented a new smartwatch with an analog display, the Smartwatch Vitality, with a digital dial revealed on demand. Thanks to a sensor developed by Philips Wearable Sensing, this model has heart rate monitoring capabilities.
Frederique Constant’s production oscillates between two worlds that are often placed in opposition.
Frederique Constant launched the first models in its Highlife collection more than 20 years ago. In 2020, the brand updated and reinvigorated this storied collection by adding three new models: Highlife Perpetual Calendar Manufacture, Highlife Heart Beat, and Highlife
Frederique Constant launched the first models in its Highlife collection more than 20 years ago. In 2020, the brand updated and reinvigorated this storied collection by adding three new models: Highlife Perpetual Calendar Manufacture, Highlife Heart Beat, and Highlife.
On the surface, these two categories of Replica Watches Store are not that different. Frederique Constant has chosen to be discreetly “smart”, in a way that complements the aesthetic of a traditional watch rather than distorting it. The brand’s Managing Director, Niels Eggerding, can feel quite lonely in this segment, as the Swiss watch industry as a whole has turned its back on new technologies that he believes are essential to its long-term success.
We caught up with him to discuss the fallout from Covid-19, the telecommuting experience, and the brand’s classic and connected innovations.
Europa Star: What immediate measures did you take in response to the pandemic?
Niels Eggerding: Back in February, given what was happening in China, we secured our subsidiaries and production lines so that we were ready to face the next six months with relative calm. In March, when it became apparent that Covid-19 was impacting Europe, we furloughed our team to get through this difficult period, and from 22nd March we switched to working remotely.
“We formed two working groups: on the one hand, those who can work from home, and on the other, those who have to go to the workshop.”
However, at no time did we close the factory: he wanted us to remain reactive and he came to the office every day. Two working groups were formed: on the one hand,
those who could work from home, and on the other hand, those who had to go to the workshops. The rotations were implemented so that the fewest number of people were present at the same time.
Frederique Constant’s new connected watch, the Smartwatch Vitality, with its digital face revealed on demand. In this new watch, it is now possible to measure heart rate on the wrist thanks to the integration of a next-generation sensor developed by Philips Wearable Sensing Technologies.
How was the teleworking experience?
In May, we realized that for many employees, isolation had not been beneficial. We adapt the schedules to allow a return to almost normality,
respecting social distancing and the maximum number of employees allowed. Since June, everyone has returned, but only in a four-day week, Monday through Thursday.
We have also introduced internal ‘traffic lanes’ to prevent people from bumping into each other. Of course, masks are mandatory during meetings. What I can tell you is that everyone is happy to be back in the workshops.
In the long term, how will this crisis transform the way you operate and your objectives?
We will have to readjust our objectives, manage subsidiaries and inventories differently,
and focus on “continental” rather than “intercontinental” supply chains. We will know the real impact of the crisis in the next 12 to 18 months. And we must be reactive and focus on e-commerce. In that sense, Frederique Constant was able to achieve in three months what she would normally take at least a year:
we have completely revamped our website,
which can now host direct sales, something that we have introduced as support for our resellers.
“When it comes to e-commerce, we were able to accomplish in three months what would normally take at least a year. But we will know the real impact of the crisis in the next 12 to 18 months.”
For the first time, the Classic Worldtimer Manufacture arrives this year dressed in an 18-carat pink gold case,
in a limited edition of 88 pieces.
More generally, how do you see the transformation of the Swiss watch industry as a whole?
The watchmaking sector will undoubtedly be greatly affected. Our industry has already completely ignored the impact of smartwatches in recent years, and it is Apple that has won this battle. Today, just to talk about the crisis, I think the groups are strong enough to absorb the shock and survive. But a lot of brands are going to go bankrupt in the next 24 months and that’s scary. Only those who are flexible and willing to reinvent themselves will survive. Game over for everyone else…
“Our industry has completely ignored the impact of smartwatches in recent years, and Apple has won this battle.”
Given the new context, are you focusing on certain types of models in particular,
for example, more mechanical best fake watches and less quartz?
It seems to be a fact that customers who do not want mechanical fake watches are more
attracted to smart fake watches than quartz models. The quartz segment has undoubtedly been cannibalized by smartwatches.
Including your new Smartwatch Vitality, what proportion of your output are connected models?
No more than 10% of total sales. Frederique Constant is, first and foremost, a producer of mechanical watches. The Swiss watch industry is far from being a pioneer in the field of connection. To remain competitive and attractive,
brands must rewrite their script at least every six months, each time they launch a connected model. This technology evolves much faster than the traditional clock and is therefore more difficult to master.
“Customers who don’t want a mechanical watch are more attracted to smart fake watches than quartz models.”
Frederique Constant fake presents the Runabout RHS Chronograph Automatic model as a tribute to his collaboration with the Italian yacht company Riva.
What are you going to do in April 2021, as part of the future watchmaking event to be held in Geneva, after the demise of Baselworld?
In this context of uncertainty, our philosophy is to “wait and see”. The 2021 Motor Show has been canceled and for Watches & Wonders nothing is really clear… Frederique Constant is lucky to have a magnificent factory. So we lean towards an “open house” scenario,
with drivers available for visitors who want to discover us or get to know us better,
while we wait for the storm to pass and allow us to get back to what we used to do. call “normal”.