In Conversation With Frederique Constant’s Technical Director And Master Watchmaker Pim Koeslag
What inspired you to incorporate a silicon oscillator beating inside a mechanical timepiece?
The story began in 2018 when Peter Stas visited the incubator Yes Delft! in Holland and met Nima Tolou, the CEO and Founder of Flexous, an innovative horology-oriented technology branch of YES! Delft, a leading Dutch tech incubator based in Holland. They came up with the idea of replacing the brand’s standard assortment (26 components) with only one single silicon component to regulate the watch. Indeed, the benefits of the use of silicon are huge. It is lightweight, strong, flexible, and anti-magnetic. It adds a new dimension to mechanical watches. Frederique Constant is a brand that is built around innovation and has always pushed the boundaries of watchmaking.
What is the significance of using monocrystalline silicon for the oscillator, and how will it assist to enhance the precision and dependability of the timepiece?
Monocrystalline silicon is 100% anti-magnetic, resilient to oscillations in temperature, less sensitive to gravity and four times lighter than a regular assortment. The absence of mechanical coupling, therefore, means a lower generation of friction and wear on the parts. Indeed, silicon doesn’t need lubrication as the monolithic nature of the flexible mechanisms eliminates the need for axles and stones, which enhances the long-term reliability of the escapement and avoids the oiling demands generated by a high frequency.
What were the most difficult challenges you had to overcome when creating the oscillator?
The most difficult element to fulfil was clearly the integration of the anchor pallets into the flexures (the flexures are the flexible blades that replace the function of the conventional hairspring). To achieve this, we had to create a part in the middle of the two flexures which was slightly thicker than the flexures themselves, in order to establish a stable and stiff base for the anchor pallets.
You have once again produced an exquisite watch with redefined luxury features at an accessible price using your real watchmaking talents. What factors do you take into account while creating a watch for your customers?
Indeed, this has been Frederique Constant’s driving force for over 30 years, in order to democratise luxury Swiss Made watches. Therefore, we are continuously investing in new technologies and optimising our production process while keeping an eye on the costs, to find the perfect balance and offer the best possible quality.
Did you collaborate with conventional watchmakers to create the world’s premium timepiece?
To create the silicon monolithic oscillator we collaborated with Flexous. They took care of the oscillator calculations and the technical design. We oversaw the development, production and assembly of the movement. Regarding the industrialisation process, Flexous was in charge of the production of the silicon weaver and the first caorse tuning which is done by silicon oxide. Then, our watchmakers assembled the movement and the oscillator on the movement. The final tuning with the masses was also done by Frederique Constant’s watchmakers.
How do you want your consumers to perceive the Slimline Monolithic Manufacture?
The Slimline Monolithic Manufacture timepiece unveiled a technological breakthrough in the field of precision timekeeping, by redefining the principles of mechanical watch regulation which had been established over the past 300 years.