This piece by Frédérique Constant could be a nice chronograph at a relatively accessible price, €2,850, attractive for its uncluttered dial. It is a tribute to vintage motor sports with its perforated leather strap and the Healey logo below the central pivot, celebrating the NOJ 393 Healey racing car. The racing green on the two subdials, continuous seconds on the left and 30-minute chronograph counter on the right, is a nice chromatic touch. The stainless steel case is very wearable at 42 mm diameter, 14.45 mm in thickness, with a commendable 50 metres water resistance (in other words, better than the standard 30 metres that offers protection just from rain and splashes), and a transparent caseback revealing the self-winding movement.
But what I can’t understand is why the chronograph seconds scale, divided into fifths of a second, is placed as a separation between the outer dial ring with the hour batons and the central part with the subdials and clou de Paris texture. If you are timing an event that lasts between ten and twenty seconds, or between forty and fifty, there is no way you can read the duration. See some more “illegible” chronographs on this page.
Perhaps the brand’s marketing research showed that people buying chronograph watches aren’t really interested in timing anything and they just like playing with the buttons and getting the hands to go round. Perhaps the graphic designer absolutely wanted the seconds scale to be tucked under the subdials so that the external part of the dial had a more airy openness.
The watch is powered by the FC-397 self-winding movement, 25 jewels, 28,800 vhp, 46 hours power reserve, probably based on the ETA Valjoux 7750 and certainly made by a third-party supplier. This version is reference FC-397HS5B6, a limited edition of 2,888 pieces, price €2,850. Another version with stainless steel case plated in rose gold and dark green dial with rose-gold-place indices is available, reference FC-397HDG5B4, price €3,200, again a limited edition of 2,888 pieces. For further info, see the Frédérique Constant website.