Why The New Frédérique Constant Hybrid Manufacture Has Mark Ruffalo Smitten
Frederique Constant’s extraordinary Hybrid Manufacture just received some seriously high praise. When Mark Ruffalo—who plays The Incredible Hulk in hit film adaptations of the comic book series—was asked if he thought his character would wear this watch, he replied, “Are you kidding me? [The Hulk's alter ego] Bruce Banner would love this. This is the Banner watch. It’s technology; it’s also just pure force.”
And he's right. The Hybrid Manufacture is an entirely new kind of smartwatch, in that it combines the true mechanical movement Swiss timepieces are famous for with modern attributes such as fitness trackers in one perfectly made package.
The 42mm case has a dial like that of a typical high-end Swiss watch, with an analogue display, standard timekeeping functions, and a luxurious leather strap. It also has an integrated digital, battery-powered module.
Smart functions have brought this timepiece hurtling into the 21st century, like The Hulk himself. The Hybrid Manufacture has all the usual digital watch attributes—activity tracking, sleep tracking, fitness coaching, and more—plus some watch-specific features like analytics for the mechanical movement.
Think rate, amplitude, beat error, and a world timer, for those of us who work in multiple time zones. These can all be controlled and changed via a user-friendly iPhone app—hence The Hulk’s keen interest in this revolutionary watch.
“I think it’s a really remarkable piece of technology,” says Ruffalo. “It’s the hybridisation, it’s the marriage of modern tech with classic watchmaking tradition. Frederique Constant is really the first one to do this. It gives and captures an enormous amount of information, but you don’t have a smartphone on your body.”
For too long, clients have had to choose between the timeless beauty, nostalgia and craftsmanship of an analogue watch, and the convenience of a digital one that links our every movement to the technology we rely on so heavily. And thankfully for the watchmaking world’s ego, this groundbreaking design was created far from Silicon Valley.
“It was important not to leave it to the black box manufacturers in California or China to develop electronics,” says Peter Stas, the CEO of Frederique Constant. “Here we put this smartwatch function into a beautiful typical Swiss mechanical watch.”
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Frederique Constant is a perfect example of admirable European artistic heritage. Based in Plan-les-Ouates, Geneva, the company is involved in all stages of watch production, from initial design to final assembly and quality control. Frederique Constant develops, manufactures and assembles in-house calibres, of which it has created 24 versions since 2004.
Each watch is made by hand with the latest equipment and extensive controls, to ensure maximum quality and durability. The company is firm in its focus on innovation, and its 32,000-square-foot facility in Geneva is ultra-modern and offers the best environment for its passionate watchmakers to change the world from.
“We call this a revolution in the Swiss watch industry. It’s not an innovation; it is new, it is invented,” says Stas. “What we have introduced is a mechanical product. There are a lot of electronic components integrated into a mechanical calibre.”
It has been accepted that smartwatches are not just another fleeting trend. As we become even more reliant on our smartphones, watchmakers must progress at the same speed as Apple and Samsung.
A few years ago, the idea of a mechanical, beautifully crafted wristwatch that also offers activity tracking, a world timer, and a dynamic coach would have had you laughed out of Baselworld. Today, it feels like the thrilling but necessary next step.
This sense of anticipation was electric at the recent launch of the Hybrid Manufacture at New York’s exclusive Carpenters Workshop Gallery, where journalists, watch lovers and VIPs witnessed the unveiling of the revolutionary piece.
Ruffalo was there, Hybrid Manufacture glinting on his wrist, having left his iPhone at home. “I think people love getting a little break from their smartphone while still having that technology available to them,” he says. “And a watch that is beautiful and looks like a traditional watch, that’s something that’s really remarkable.”
We couldn’t agree more.
Find out more at frederiqueconstant.com.
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This article first appeared on hk.asiatatler.com.