Style / World of Watches (WOW)

Franck Muller Thunderbolt Tourbillon and Vanguard Gravity Set the Bar for Exceptional Tourbillons

The increasing ubiquity of the complication has meant that watchmakers have to continually raise the bar on the dramatics of this most mesmerising of escapements. In 2012, Franck Muller released the Thunderbolt Tourbillon. By 2015, they raised the bar yet again with an exceptionally large architectural tourbillon in the shape of the Vanguard Tourbillon collection

Jul 18, 2017 | By Jonathan Ho

Tourbillons used to be among one of the many tests on your way to proving your prowess as a watchmaking brand, but at some point in 2010, everyone and their mothers started making tourbillons. Where the sheer theatricality and emotive force of the tourbillon was enough to attract even the most cynical of watch collectors, the increasing ubiquity of the complication has meant that watchmakers have to continually raise the bar on the dramatics of this most mesmerising of escapements. In 2012, Franck Muller released the Thunderbolt Tourbillon. By 2015, they raised the bar yet again with an exceptionally large architectural tourbillon in the Vanguard Tourbillon collection. Today, both the Franck Muller Thunderbolt Tourbillon and Vanguard Gravity have set the bar for exceptionally engaging tourbillons.

Franck Muller Thunderbolt Tourbillon and Vanguard Gravity Set the Bar for Exceptional Tourbillons

Franck Muller is not named The Master of Complications for nothing. After three years of research and development, watchmakers at Franck Muller in cooperation with master watchmaker Pierre-Michele Golay conceived of the “fastest tourbillon in the world”.

 

Franck Muller The Thunderbolt Tourbillon: Fastest Tourbillon in the world

Named the Franck Muller Thunderbolt Tourbillon, the world’s fastest tourbillon escapement is powered by four barrels, providing the necessary energy to the tourbillon cage to make one full rotation every 5 seconds on a ceramic bearing. As a result, the 12 rotation per minute tourbillon becomes a highly exciting and completely captivating complication to watch as opposed to your traditional tourbillons.

In a conventional tourbillon the escape wheel is carried around a fixed fourth wheel via the tourbillon carriage, which is itself driven by the third wheel. The Thunderbolt Tourbillon dispenses with a fixed fourth wheel. Instead of the escape wheel traveling around with the rest of the escapement, its teeth are inverted to face inwards and entire escape wheel is fixed to the periphery of the tourbillon.

 

More importantly, because the inverted escape wheel takes the place of the fixed forth wheel. This setup uses a lot less energy than a conventional tourbillon and as such Franck Muller was able to incorporate multiplying gears in the going train to speed up the tourbillon without compromising the integrity of the balance.

The Franck Muller Thunderbolt Tourbillon also uses extremely light material in order to use less energy. 12 times faster than your average tourbillon watch, the Franck Muller Thunderbolt Tourbillon uses a patented Franck Muller escapement with fixed escapement wheel and reversed anchor and balance wheel with an in-house Breguet hairspring – in short, an exemplary tourbillon with remarkable provenance. The Franck Muller  Caliber FM2025T mechanical, manual winding tourbillon movement is completely designed and conceptualised in-house and though it tourbillon is the world’s fastest, it’s beat rate is still a semi-leisurely 21,600 vph with a total run time of 60 hours fully wound.

The skeletonised Franck Muller Thunderbolt Tourbillon is finished with a combinaton of engraving, rhodium plating, graining and hand-bevelling, housed in a choice of precious metal 55.05mm Cintrée Curvex case.

 

Franck Muller Vanguard Gravity: A new concept in Tourbillon architecture

Despite misgivings as to the contemporary necessity of a modern tourbillon (in that most modern escapements beat efficiently enough to overcome rate variance resulting from gravity), a tourbillon occupying almost 2/3 of the watch face as in the Franck Muller Vanguard Gravity is not just visually dramatic but downright dominant of your attention – perhaps even to the detriment of time reading.

But, it’s not just gimmick which gets you to pay attention to the tourbillon with 21mm tourbillon bridge, the Franck Muller Vanguard Gravity is not just oversized, it also features a highly unusual elliptical tourbillon cage with structure in aluminium. The structure of the tourbillon is one of gargantuan asymmetry, the tourbillon bridge is itself an eye-catching four-armed structuring spanning 21mm (comparatively larger than some women’s watches), framed by a harmonious elipse circle with diameters of 21.2mm and 7.7mm, making a full rotation every 60 seconds, the eccentric 14mm balance enhances the unconventional tourbillon with five day power reserve.

Alternating PVD black-coated aluminium tourbillon cage and steel bridges accentuate and contrast the tourbillon architecture to great effect. Enhancing the theatricality of the tourhillon is also the fact that the balance wheel on the Franck Muller Vanguard Gravity is slightly eccentric, that is to say, it’s not exactly the same axis of rotation with its tourbillon cage in contrast to the usual tourbillons – this also means the asymmetry is necessary because the arm of the cage opposite to the balance wheel is constructed a little larger. The slow beat 18,800 vph 14mm balance is played to great dramatic effect because of its size.

Wholly in-house designed and manufactured, the Vanguard Gravity is available in 44.00 mm X 53.70 mm Vanguard stainless steel, titanium and 18-carat pink or white gold plated, this dynamic collection offers a personalized choice of 6 colorful variants for the bridge.

 

 
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