A little history
Frederique Constant was founded in 1988 by Peter Stas and his wife, Aletta Bax to focus on “affordable luxury”, and with the acquisition of Alpina in 2002, their portfolio expanded to include an entire line of aviation and diving-themed sport/casual watches to go with their more classically inspired collection. Not content to stop there, Ateliers DeMonaco was established in 2008 by Frederique Constant founder, Peter Stas and his technical director, Pim Koeslag to bring their deeply held notions of value to the world of truly high end watchmaking.
And so, here we are. Three brands, three distinct identities, yet all tied together under the umbrella that Peter Stas and Aletta Bax created almost 30 years ago. We don’t know about you, but we think it’s time to throw a party.
Let’s do this
It was a dark and stormy night… Okay, so maybe “stormy” is too strong an adjective to use to describe the drizzle, but even a biblically epic deluge would’ve been hard pressed to dampen our enthusiasm considering the space the event was going down at – none other than the National Arts Club on Gramercy Park. Located in the Samuel Tilden Mansion the imposing facade, designed by famed architect, Calvert Vaux, and ornate interior made for an elegant evening.
Guests were invited to wend their way past a pianist tickling the ivories of a Steinway grand piano, through three separate art-filled spaces populated with a wide variety pieces from Ateliers DeMonaco, Alpina and Frederique Constant.
Naturally, the open bar, located beneath a stunning stained glass cupola designed by master glassmaker, Donald McDonald was a popular stop on the way through.
While it’s a given that watches were on hand to be viewed and fondled, in the case of Frederique Constant and Alpina, pieces from every aspect of their history were laid out in chronological order, the better to visualize the progression of both manufactures.
And make no mistake, these are now fully fledged manufactures, with proprietary movements and even high complications, such as Frederique Constant’s stunning Slimline Perpetual Calendar and Tourbillon. As for Ateliers DeMonaco, they more than brought the thunder with their unique interpretation of haute horlogerie. Pieces such as their Quantième Perpétuel Turini and Tourbillon Oculus 1297 were on display and ready to be worn.
On to business
Of course, at some point in the evening someone’s going to have to break the spell and start talking, and that task fell to Fernando Sanchez, Alpina Frederique Constant brand director for North America. After his opening remarks, he introduced Remy Koukou, the events coordinator for the National Arts Club, to speak to the architecture and artwork contained within the Samuel Tilden Mansion. Indeed, that was an attraction in its own right (yes, this is the first time that we’ve had an art history lesson at RedBar).
After Ms. Koukou, it was my turn to say a few words – don’t worry, I was brief – and then introduce the resident rock star of the evening, Pim Koeslag himself:
For those who aren’t familiar with Pim, he’s pretty much the antithesis of the the stolid, Swiss-French, graybeard watchmaker archetype that many still hold up as the poster child (elder?) for Swiss watchmaking. He’s young, brimming with humor, and possesses an almost contagious enthusiasm for his brands and watchmaking in general. In short, he’s a great guy and an asset not only to Frederique Constant/Alpina/Ateliers DeMonaco, but also to the industry as a whole.
But I digress…
Pim spoke at length about his passion for watchmaking and the values that he has brought to his brands, and at the conclusion of his speech, everyone was encouraged to get their hands dirty with the watches and start asking questions. Naturally, he led the charge:
So, did our RedBar members enjoy themselves? You be the judge:
All in all, it was a night to remember, and as one of the first events to properly kick off “Watchtime Week” – yes, all three brands were exhibitors at WatchTime New York 2017 – it was a great way to get local collectors in the mood for the show.
(Yes, we’re already in the process of booking the mansion for next year!)