December 8, 2022

I will be the first to admit to a deep fascination and respect for the work of Peter Speake and Daniela Marin of The Naked Watchmaker. While having written more than 500 stories about watches, my micro-mechanical watchmaking skills are self-taught but with help from Daniela and Peter’s website. With The Naked Watchmaker releasing its first watch collaboration, is there a deeper meaning behind it?

For those of you that do not know, The Naked Watchmaker website is a deeply scholastic and refreshingly different approach to our world of wrist wonders. Seeing step-by-step deconstructions of famous movements has taught me a lot, and the realism in the site’s coverage is more fascinating than most carefully doctored big-brand press shots. With its website and subscription courses, The Naked Watchmaker does a hell of a job educating and spreading the word to inject new life into watchmaking and instigate recruitment of the young apprentices that we need to keep it alive.

The Naked Watchmaker X Frederique Constant Slimline Perpetual Calendar Manufacture

A long name, a colorful skeletonized panache, and a deeper, more scholastic meaning. This was my first (and rather long-winded) thought. The beauty of a skeletonized movement is being able to grasp the inner workings of a watch, and so much more so with one of the most complex complications, the QP (Quantiême Perpétuel). The colors are deceptively fresh, especially with the watch coming on a fabric strap creating a juxtaposed casual vibe to what is usually a very formal affair. I had a chat with Daniela Marin, as I suspected this rather raffish watch was created with ulterior motives. And I was right.

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The backstory from Daniela Marin

Chatting with Daniela Marin of The Naked Watchmaker on this first important collaborative watch, I was sure it had a deeper, more intrinsic meaning. But what instigated it? Marin tells us, “We always spoke about the possibility of having a The Naked Watchmaker watch, but it takes a lot of confidence on the part of the brands to let us into their factories. So we had dropped the idea as we didn’t want to scare any brand away. Building trust takes a long time…” One of the site’s featured stories, however, brought up a possibility, and Marin tells us more. “Then we deconstructed the Frederique Constant Perpetual Calendar and saw the movement. Technically, there was space in the existing case to make some alterations without huge changes. The idea came back… so we approached Frederique Constant MD Niels Eggerding and he said yes.

The collaborative process and a complex end result

Marin tells us that this was made more complicated due to the pandemic. “With the factories closing, deconstructions became complex but not impossible. We worked closely with the Frederique Constant team, and here we are today. It’s without a doubt the most important watch The Naked Watchmaker will ever produce. If there are further collaborations in the future… they will never be the first.” I then put my suspicions to her: was the skeletonization a purely aesthetical decision? Or was the open-worked design colored by The Naked Watchmaker’s scholastic approach to the knowledge of watchmaking?

A watchmaking mission

Marin proves me right. “The skeletonization is indeed a 100% scholastic approach [in] wanting to create a watch that fulfills The Naked Watchmaker’s mission. Revealing the beauty of the inner workings, we want people to look at a timepiece and start asking questions. This watch pops inside and out! Frederique Constant has given us the opportunity to do this with a complication, and one that is already a great watch… This limited edition brings The Naked Watchmaker’s mission and our experience from our past into an incredible timepiece I couldn’t be prouder of.”

The watch itself and the changes within

As shown in the montage above, the duo-colored QP is a very different proposition than the original. The Naked Watchmaker’s first collaborative watch certainly could have been played safer. But with its traditional, solid dial, the standard Slimline Perpetual Calendar Manufacture was a superb candidate for a “revealing” makeover. This involved quite a few changes, including changing the day and date sub-dials and hands. These are visibly larger than the originals, for great visibility and sporty touch. The moonphase was altered to be an animation reflecting the movement of time. It shows two moons where one is usually hidden, creating a visually captivating use of the moon disk. The month indications are altered and the leap-year hand was removed with a colored indicator taking its place between January and March.

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The casual yet elegant mix of blue and brown

Unlike the classical standard model, the use of Super-LumiNova allows for nighttime legibility. The lume also charmingly emphasizes the moonphase animation during the darker hours. The blue bridges provide a strong contrast with the silver and gold-colored components, accentuating the intricate caliber. Blue also holds a special place in the world of horology. The historically blued hands and screws serve as a nod to the history of fine watchmaking. A strap can be a point of contention, but this is a studied choice. The casual, textured brown fabric has a warm vintage feel for what is a classical concept. This, together with the skeletonized cool blues and browns really makes the watch.

Perpetual cool

I really like that the slim 42mm polished three-part case comes with a rich helping of cocoa brown on the open-worked dial. This does a great job playing against the fresh blue details of the movement. The FC-775 manufacture caliber has a 38-hour power reserve. While some may expect a greater power reserve these days, this is still respectable considering the power-consuming QP workings. But I’m sure you’re also wondering how much it will cost. Only 99 of these limited-edition pieces will be made for a price of €9,995 with a €5,000 pre-order payment. This is not bad at all for a perpetual calendar manufacture movement, especially a skeletonized one. The Naked Watchmaker X Frederique Constant Slimline Perpetual Calendar Manufacture is available exclusively on a dedicated Frederique Constant website.

What about you my dear Fratelli? Is this a great entry ticket into the world of the mythical perpetual calendars? With a manufacture movement for €10K, I’m nominating it as the best open-worked QP this year. What do you think? Let us know in the comments.

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