Frederique Constant which is part of the Citizen empire, has an interesting new twist to the escapement idea; a silicone oscillator, rather than a balance wheel. Is it cool, or just not your thing? We think it’s great to see new tech being deployed within watchmaking because it attracts new customers, although it will be difficult to win over traditional watch collectors of course. Here’s the word from FC below;
Marking a world premiere, Frederique Constant presents a silicon oscillator beating at an unprecedented pace of 288,000 vibrations per hour, or 40 Hz. Redefining the principles of mechanical watch regulation, the Slimline Monolithic Manufacture ticks ten times faster than most mechanical movements. Thanks to its innovative design and reduced size, this revolutionary high-frequency silicon oscillator fits inside a traditional movement configuration. The 40mm Slimline Monolithic Manufacture is the proud recipient of this groundbreaking oscillator, the first watch in the world to boast a 40Hz frequency combined with a price that reflects the brand’s commitment to accessible luxury.
The idea behind the Monolithic Oscillator was born 3 years ago during an encounter between Peter Stas, co-founder and former CEO of Frederique Constant, and Dr Nima Tolou, founder and CEO of Flexous, an independent innovative horology-oriented technology branch of YES!Delft specialising in compliant or flexible mechanisms.
Following their encounter, the Frederique Constant team commissioned Flexous with the production of a unique, flexible oscillating system. The technical mandates were clear: a size comparable to that of a traditional balance; the highest possible frequency; an 80-hour power reserve; and a cost-effective formula allowing the manufacture of significant quantities at a reasonable price.
A Revolution in Precision Timekeeping – The Monolithic Oscillator
With the Slimline Monolithic Manufacture, Frederique Constant replaces the 26 components of a standard assortment with a single component fitted with two regulation weights. Thanks to a new geometry of flexures and masses, the size of the oscillator (9.8mm diameter x 0.3mm thickness) was substantially reduced to match for the first time that of a conventional regulator. Another factor that kept the dimensions in check and create an ultrathin oscillator and to keep all functions in one thin silicon layer was the integration of the anchor system in the flexures.
The third innovation responds to the adjustment weights used to regulate the flexure oscillator (just like the system used in a traditional free-sprung balance), a feature that allows watchmakers to fine-tune the frequency with exceptional ease.