Tag Archives: Franck Muller

5 Fine Timepieces to Buy for HIM

Whether it’s through auctions, selling exhibitions or private sales, Sotheby’s offers buyers the simplest and most reliable place to buy and sell highly valuable, unique objects. Looking for watches to buy online? Sotheby’s BidNow programme allows visitors to view all auctions live online and place bids from anywhere in the world. With about 11 more days to bid, browse these five exquisite timepieces that we have selected FOR HIM.

5 Fine Timepieces For HIM (Online-Only Auction)


Estimate: CHF15,000 – CHF20,000
Current Bid:

This watch uses the calibre 4130 automatic lever movement, with a 40 mm case and black ceramic bezel with tachymeter scale calibrated to 400 units. It has screw down chronograph pushers, crown and back as well as a stainless steel Rolex Oyster bracelet with folding clasp. The black dial features applied luminescent baton indexes, subsidiary dials for constant seconds, 30-minute and 12-hour registers, including 44 jewels  to complete this version of the Rolex Daytona Circa 2016 (Reference 116500LN). Accompanied by a Rolex guarantee card, instruction booklet and presentation case.


Estimate: CHF2,000 – CHF4,000
Current Bid:

The Rolex (Reference 14270) Explorer Circa 2000 features an in-house manufactured calibre 3000 automatic lever movement, a 35 mm case, fitted with a stainless steel Rolex Oyster bracelet with folding clasp. This version of the iconic Rolex Explorer Circa 2000 will appeal to future buyer for its simple and luxurious design. On black dial showcases 27 jewels, applied luminescent Arabic numerals and baton indexes. Overall, the dial and hands are said to be in very good condition with minor scuffs and scratches of the case and bracelet.

Lot 6: Audemars Piguet

Estimate: CHF12,000 – CHF16,000
Current Bid:

The Royal Oak Circa 2012 (Reference 26320ST.00.1220ST.01 MVT) uses calibre 2385, automatic lever movement with a 41 mm stainless steel  Royal Oak case and octagonal bezel, with caseback secured by 8 screws. The design of this Royal Oak Circa 2012 timepiece features a black tapisserie dial, showcasing 37 jewels,  applied luminescent indexes, subsidiary dials for constant seconds, 30-minute and 12-hour registers, and aperture for date. It has a stainless steel Audemars Piguet bracelet with double folding clasp. Buyer of this watch will receive the Audemars Piguet certificate booklet, instruction manual, and a presentation case.

Lot 13: Franck Muller

Estimate: CHF4,000 – CHF6,000
Current Bid:

The 18k pink-gold Franck Muller timepiece uses an in-house manufactured calibre 2800MB (eta 2892/2) has a gold tonneau-form case with an 18k pink gold  Franck Muller buckle. This watch features an automatic centre seconds and has 21 jewels, a silvered dial with Arabic numerals and an aperture for date. The caseback is secured by 4 screws. The buyer of this exquisite timepiece will receive the Franck Muller Certificate of Origin.

Lot 14: Cartier

Estimate: CHF2,000 – CHF4,000
Current Bid:

Framed by a DLC-coated titanium square case and the bezel and caseback secured by (8 screws on each side), the watch is fitted with a DLC-coated titanium and stainless steel Cartier double folding clasp. On the black dial shows the automatic Chronograph wristwatch with registers and date reference 3104 case 184611PX Santos 100 Circa 2010. Featuring Calibre 8630, automatic movement and 27 jewels, the black dial has Roman numerals and secret signature at VII. The dial and hands are in excellent condition, with minor scuffs and scratches on the case.


WPHH 2018 Franck Muller Skafander shows Watchland’s new Prowess

Diver’s watches in shapes other than round are exceedingly rare because membrane seals cannot be kept as secure with corners. With the new WPHH 2018 Franck Muller Skafander, the Route de Malgany Watchland’s new prowess is on display with a tonneau shaped diving watch and no outer rotating bezel for dive timing.

The Franck Muller Skafander carries the brand’s signature tonneau shape and according the brand’s spokesperson, the 100 metre water resistance on the timepiece was no easy challenge. Technically speaking, water resistance is not just the ability of a watch to stay impermeable to liquids but also pressure.

Franck Muller Skafander

WPHH 2018 Franck Muller Skafander shows Watchland’s new Prowess

Skafander, Polish for space suit conveys imagery of ability to keep humans alive in the harsh environment of outer space, vacuum and temperature extremes is ironic considering that this new Franck Muller novelty is concerned with depths of the ocean rather than the heights of space; but we digress.

Water pressure on an object increases with depth. In as little as 1.5 meters depth, water pressure is high enough to force water through places that are not perfectly sealed. This creates a limitation on the types of shapes that water-resistant watches can take because water seal membranes are most secure when round. The weakest link in creating a water seal these watches inevitably is the sapphire glass box simply because the caseback can be brute force screwed down. To make the WPHH 2018 Franck Muller Skafander capable of 100 metre watery depths, the watchmakers at Watchland had to devise a new means of securing the sapphire glass box to its tonneau midcase.

Obviously speaking, a rotatable bezel for easy tracking of diving times wasn’t possible on Franck Muller’s iconic tonneau watch either, and thus, that necessitated that the manufacture find a new solution:  a rotatable bezel under the dial, easily accessed with push-buttons and then just as easily locked to prevent accidental (and dangerous) presses thus avoiding disruption of the unidirectional bezel. The orange dive timing triangle indicator is highly legible, ensuring that the wearer is always aware of his remaining time.

The technical features of the Franck Muller Skafander provide its owner the most precise tools to monitor the dive and the decompression stages.

Franck Muller Skafander Price and Specs

Case 57mm stainless steel tonneau case with 100m water resistance
Movement Automatic movement with 42 hours power reserve
Strap Rubber strap
Price TBA

Shape Your Time: Exploring Square and Form Watches of 2017



Square watches, or in industry parlance: form or shaped watches are a fairly sizeable segment (given that Cartier produces AND sells so many of them, but more on that later). That is to say, even though there’s a preponderance of round watches in the industry, the belief that square or shaped watches only have a niche appeal is fundamentally unsound. However, significant conversations with retailers and brands alike all indicate that the round watch, if anything, will dominate even more than it already does. For our part, we find this very disappointing indeed.

The much-reported preference of markets (apparently everywhere) for round watches seems like a self-fulfilling prophecy that no brand has seriously challenged. Well, one brand is challenging it but because that brand is Apple, watchmaking firms have only expressed tepid interest. More often than not, the companies have expressed aggressive disinterest.

Shape Your Time: 2017 Resurgence of Form Watches

This will mean that square watches will indeed be scarce, as we will illustrate here, and that fact represents an opportunity for the most consummate of collectors. The important thing is of course to see if there is enough demand to create the right sort of imbalance. Of course, we will be steering clear of making predictions as to investment value and such. Our purpose here is only to highlight an opportunity.

Designing Time

Before getting into that, let us look at the design situation at the turn of the last century, when the taste for wristwatches was still nascent. Louis Cartier was a jeweler with a penchant for what former Cartier CEO Franco Cologni called square surfaces. It was at the turn of the previous century that Cartier entered into its famous partnership with Parisian watchmaker Edmond Jaeger, who himself was tied up with the LeCoultre watchmaking company in Switzerland. This partnership prefigured the commercial launch of the Santos watch in 1911, a move that heralded the arrival of all sorts of new shapes in watchmaking.

The Panthere de Cartier is the major form watch release for 2017 that carries the codes of the Tank and the Santos, as seen below and right.

The Panthere de Cartier is the major form watch release for 2017 that carries the codes of the Tank and the Santos, as seen below and right.

At this time, before watchmakers and the public had any idea of what the ideal wristwatch would be, it was truly a free-for-all in terms of design. According to Cologni, in his book Cartier The Tank Watch, Louis Cartier was moved first and foremost by form, believing it to be more important than function. Arguably, this is the beginning of an idea that has an inherent weakness for the development and future of wristwatches– that function should follow form.

In contemporary times, the late Apple impresario Steve Jobs redefined this with his products, recognizing that “design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” As far as watchmaking goes, the idea that design is how the object itself functions speaks to why so many watches today are round. Our daily time is indeed circular because that is what happens when you track the hours and minutes with hands. This powerful idea then shapes a powerful commercial argument.

Audemars Piguet is one of the few with a strong oval watch collection that also comes with a shaped movement

Audemars Piguet is one of the few with a strong oval watch collection that also comes with a shaped movement

The Audemars Piguet Millenary Quadriennium brought to life from the sketch before

The Audemars Piguet Millenary Quadriennium brought to life from the sketch before

Fragmented Collections

When asked about the new IWC Da Vinci being round despite the 2007 version being a refreshingly complex tonneau-tortue shape, here is what then-IWC CEO Georges Kern said: “The point is, 70 percent of the market is round watches. And the shaped segment is very limited and further segmented: square, rectangular, baignoire, tonneau… At the size IWC is today, with our reach, you need to be round because that’s what the market is.”

Kern was heading up watchmaking, marketing and digital for the Richemont Group overall so what he says carries weight far beyond IWC.

By virtue of its contrast bezel, the Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 PAM684 is a form watch hiding in round clothes.

By virtue of its contrast bezel, the Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 PAM684 is a form watch hiding in round clothes.

Despite predictions to the contrary, the Apple Watch Series 2 stuck with the rectangular shape and is water resistant to 50 metres.

Despite predictions to the contrary, the Apple Watch Series 2 stuck with the rectangular shape and is water resistant to 50 metres.

Franck Muller enjoyed a peak in the 90s and the early 2000s giving tonneau shaped watches a boost in popularity, pictured here, the Vanguard Fullback

Franck Muller enjoyed a peak in the 90s and the early 2000s giving tonneau shaped watches a boost in popularity, pictured here, the Vanguard Fullback

In fact, Kern’s estimation is generous considering that most informed sources consider round watches to be closer to 80 percent of the market. Before proceeding though, the market itself requires some definition because it does not only include the high-end market, meaning watches above US$1,000. In a 2015 article on the then-upcoming Apple Watch Series 2, no less than Forbes predicted that Apple would abandon its signature look in favour of the more conventional round shape. This prediction was based on the input of industry insiders and the like, and no doubt also took Jobs’ own philosophy into account. Of course, Apple confounded these expectations, illustrating again the hazards of journalists predicting outcomes. Considering that the Apple Watch 2 is both a status symbol and below US$1,000 (it is available for as little as $398 from the Apple Store), its very existence threatens the narrative that the market is overwhelmingly interested in round watches.

Exploring Form and Shaped Watches

Despite being, in the official lingo “timeless”, watches certainly mirror the era they are made and released in. This is what makes vintage watches from some periods – particularly the Art Deco age – so distinctive. Given the importance of heritage to the core of Swiss watchmaking – fine and otherwise – the brands have done a good job of retaining certain aesthetic touches across the ages. We have already gone into why Jaeger-LeCoultre shares the rectangular watch crown with Cartier. Both these firms maintain and champion in the 21st century a look that was already classic in the 1950s. But form watches – which are otherwise known as shaped watches – are not just rectangular of course

Patent drawing of the original Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso

Patent drawing of the original Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso

The 2017 Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Duo owns the form space in classical styling

The 2017 Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Duo owns the form space in classical styling

In official parlance, any watch that isn’t round is called a “form watch.” So that means everything from cushion-shaped Panerai watches to every collection from Cartier other than the Drive de Cartier, Cle de Cartier and Calibre de Cartier; we would argue that the popular Ballon Bleu is actually a form watch because it has a tactile appeal arising from its pebble shape. To look at the number of models in the form watch segment itself, we can only reference other magazines. Armbanduhren, a specialty German watch catalog, lists more than 1,000 models of watches (and has done since we began paying attention, in 2011). Of these more than 900 are round, meaning that form watches are roughly 10 percent of the annual offering.

If we take these numbers to base an extrapolation on, then we have roughly 10 percent of the watch models in any given year vying for potentially 30 percent of the market. Of course, we have no way of knowing just how many pieces are made and sold directly but it seems a good bet that only Cartier will be selling form watches in significant numbers.

Drive de Cartier pushes the cushion-shaped aesthetic, here in extra flat form.

Drive de Cartier pushes the cushion-shaped aesthetic, here in extra flat form.

This brings us to sales, briefly. Forbes ranks Rolex as the top-selling brand of high-end Swiss watches and Omega as the third. Guess what brand occupies the second rung? Yes, the standard-bearer of form watches itself, the Panthere of fine watchmaking, Cartier sells the most watches annually, other than Rolex.

Square and Rectangle Watches

The Tank is probably the most famous form watch in the world, rivaled only by the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso. If one throws in the very popular and aforementioned Santos, also from Cartier, as well as the Twenty4, Nautilus and Aquanaut from Patek Philippe, and the Cintrex Curvex from Franck Muller, these are probably the most widely known form watches on the planet. Leaving all these aside and returning to just Cartier, this powerful brand has sought to increase its market share by unleashing an array of round watches but of these, the Ballon Bleu is so rounded that it resembles a sort of magical pebble that tells the time. The shape of this watch is, arguably, what made it an unqualified success. Nevertheless, Cartier clearly feels like its best shot at gaining market share lies with round watches, lending no small amount of credence to Kern’s statement.

Patek Philippe Aquanaut 5168G

Patek Philippe Aquanaut 5168G

The Bulgari Octo Tourbillon Sapphire shows off its form with a sapphire case middle

The Bulgari Octo Tourbillon Sapphire shows off its form with a sapphire case middle


In the early days of wristwatches (pocket watches were almost universally round and so are contemporary executions, Tom Ford’s attempt to transform the Apple Watch notwithstanding), firms experimented with wildly differing shapes, only a few of which remain well known today. In the era of properly water resistant watches though, most wristwatches are round and that is just because it is much simpler to achieve ISO water resistance standards when the case of the watch is round. Once again, function keeps interfering with the notion of the form watch

The reason for this water resistance bit could very well fill another article but, to cover it briefly and intuitively, just think of how easily a rubber gasket would work with a round watch as opposed to a rectangular one. It is for this reason that even brands with a yen for specific shapes (or even just one shape in particular) opt for the round shape when necessary.

Bell & Ross makes a point about exceptional water resistance (300 metres) with the BR 03-92 Diver

Bell & Ross makes a point about exceptional water resistance (300 metres) with the BR 03-92 Diver

Function versus Form

An excellent, if obvious, case in point here is the Richard Mille diver watch while the equally obvious counterpoint is Bell & Ross. In fact, Bell & Ross raised the roof at BaselWorld this year by releasing a diver’s watch that maintained the brand’s signature square look. It is important to note that in this case, no pun intended, the display of time is round allowing Bell & Ross to package both form and function into the mix; obviously, the brand had to work hard to achieve exceptional water resistance in this unusual shape and that should only increase its appeal.

This example aside, function is arguably the strongest reason explaining why the watchmaking trade has doubled down on the round shape in recent years, The aforementioned standard bearers of form watches such as Jaeger-LeCoultre and Cartier are both betting big on round while Omega – once a stellar producer of shaped watches – now only features the odd bullhead and Ploprof for variation. Omega is the third largest maker of high-end mechanical timepieces in Switzerland and it has no other shape in its regular collections but round.

Richard Mille RM50-03

Richard Mille RM50-03

As for the number one spot, Rolex reintroduced the world to the rectangular Prince in 2005 in what was then considered to be yet another of the brand’s calculated surprise moves. It followed up by proposing the Cellini as a brand new tuxedo-friendly family in its collection. Unfortunately, Rolex unceremoniously ditched the rectangular Prince, with the model not even worthy of a mention on its website. If you have never heard of the Rolex Prince, it is as if it never existed…

What is particularly unfortunate here is that this is Rolex, a brand unafraid to go its own way. Perhaps no other major brand would take a chance on something major that would require some getting used to, such as the Sky-Dweller and the Yacht-Master II. If the rectangular Prince can’t make it here then the majors are truly closed for business on the form watch side. On the other hand, there are still pristine examples of the Prince available and this quirky little dressy number may yet have its day.


Chameleons: A Case in Between

All this points to the obvious truth that few brands care enough about the form segment to flood the market with options, making what’s available all the more precious. This is what Officine Panerai so smartly trades on, even resolving professional tool watch issues without compromising on the shape of the watches. Brands such as this are few and far between, and bring this story to a special class of offerings.

Audemars Piguet leads the way in disguising round watches as form watches... or is it vice versa?

Audemars Piguet leads the way in disguising round watches as form watches… or is it vice versa?

Another great chameleon in this arena is Audemars Piguet, the maker of the highly idiosyncratic Royal Oak and Royal Oak Offshore watches. The shape here feels distinctive yet it maintains a sort of amorphous state, being perhaps close enough to being round that the unsuspecting eye accepts it as such. Of course, it might also be a round watch masquerading as an octagonal one. Indeed, case, bezel and crystal all come together in masterful fashion to surprise both eye and hand. In short, it is a rather beautiful ambiguity that Audemars Piguet shares here with Panerai.

Other brands too have their place here, including one collection from Patek Philippe with a shared progenitor as the Royal Oak – the Nautilus, and by extension the Aquanaut. Speaking of the great Gerald Genta, it would be remiss to ignore the current Bulgari Octo collection. Bulgari’s determination to convince the world of the virtues of its Octo shape is remarkable, making this brand one of the leading lights of the form watch segment.

Engine of Demand

Taken together, the brands that champion form watches because that is what they must do to survive and, further to that, thrive, perform an invaluable service to watchmaking as a whole – and to collectors by extension. They serve to drive the engine of demand, which is a far more difficult beast to understand than supply.

To put it another way, if while pushing their own goals and growth targets, these corporations also happen to create a little demand for gems of the past such as the A. Lange & Sohne Cabaret or the Rolex Prince, so much the better for collectors, especially those who are already moving in this direction. For those on the sidelines, the success of a particular model can lead to the brand reviving the model in its current collection or increasing its offering, thus building even more cachet and demand. There is actually a proper example of this, which brings us back to Audemars Piguet and Cartier.

The original release of the so-called Series A of the Royal Oak numbered only 1,000 watches yet the ensuing popularity of the model translated to innumerable iterations over the years. This collection – and the Royal Oak Offshore – probably contributes the lion’s share of the brand’s reported figure of 40,000 plus watches sold annually. Finishing our tale at Cartier, where we started, the success of the Tank watch might arguably be correlated to the success of Cartier as a force in high-end watchmaking. While the Royal Oak has just the Royal Oak Offshore as an offshoot, the Tank has quite a number of descendants. The popularity of the Tank with collectors inspired Cartier to create extensive options here, with no less than six different families of Tank watches available, with multiple references in each family. Not bad at all for a watch that started with just six models for sale in Paris in 1919.

Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon 30 Degree Asymmetrical

Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon 30 Degree Asymmetrical

Minor Leagues: Where Independent watchmakers stand on Shaped Watches

Where the big brands have circled the wagons, so to speak, it is quite a different story at smaller outfits such as Azimuth, Bell & Ross, MB&F, SevenFriday, Urwerk and others. Certainly some, especially classical names such as Philippe Dufour and Laurent Ferrier, trade on a certain inner beauty but even here, some are not afraid to bust out of the circle. This is most obvious in the watches of Greubel Forsey, where the cases literally bulge in odd ways when the function calls for it. Obviously, when one makes very small numbers of watches it is possible to take certain risks. Here’s how Max Busser of MB&F puts it:

“It’s a question of horological integrity; I’ve said from the beginning that MB&F is not going to put round movements in funky shaped cases because we’re not designers. We’re mechanical artists. This is what separates marketers from creators; If you want to please the market you probably won’t take creative risks. The bigger the company, the more you will be inclined to please the market.”

Busser’s point here extends to watches at many different prices points, as evidenced by Kickstarter notables such as Momentum Labs, Helgray and Xeric. Obviously, Kickstarter projects are defined by the marketplace so the vast majority of projects there are round watches but there are significant alternatives, which one can discover by looking at the offering from those three names.


Form Watch Movements

Proportionally, it is rewarding when watchmakers equip a rectangular watch with a movement with exactly the right shape. In first half of the 20th century, it was quite normal to expect form watches to come with movements in the corresponding shape. The idea was to have the mechanical movement function as a sort of kinetic sculpture, one where function followed form. Today, form movements are the exception rather than the rule, even within the increasingly limited area of form watches. Given that form watches as a whole are like an endangered horological species, this story concerns itself with the shape of the watch as a whole rather than the shape of the movement.

The Tank Louis Cartier and Jaeger-LeCoultre calibre 944 are both examples of kinetic sculptures

The Tank Louis Cartier and Jaeger-LeCoultre calibre 944 are both examples of kinetic sculptures

Nevertheless, an entire class of collectors follows this segment and connoisseurs of mechanical watches are always pleased when watchmakers make an effort to match the shape of the movement with the shape of the watch so in this section we will look at the history of such efforts and suggest why they have fallen out of favor, although the simple answer as to why your cushion-shaped watch comes with a round movement is not hard to fathom: it makes sense from a cost and reliability perspective.

With apologies to Louis Cartier and to play devil’s advocate, what value does it really speak to that function should follow form? It is by no means a recent development that we consider function more important than form. To reference the main part of this story, this speaks to why the Apple Watch is rectangular.

Jobs’ design ideology finds its spiritual cousin in the watchmaking philosophy of Jaeger-LeCoultre, at least when it comes to the Reverso. Other than the Squadra, the Art Deco icon has always been equipped with a form movement and its case shape was dictated by function. The Reverso has the shape that it does to facilitate its defining reversible function. Function though is where form movements run into trouble, for one obvious reason: automatic winding, or rather the lack thereof.

The newly launched Tiffany Square Watch comes with its bonafide form, square shaped movement. A rarity even amongst specialist watchmakers.

The newly launched Tiffany Square Watch comes with its bonafide form, square shaped movement. A rarity even amongst specialist watchmakers.

Since at least the 1960s, the watch buying public has sought out automatic models. Once again, you can look to Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Reverso models over the years to see how this played. For the most part, the Reverso has been equipped with manual-winding calibers, all form ones of course. For self-winding models, in the Reverso Squadra and elsewhere, the Grand Maison uses round movements. Cartier sidestepped the issue though because Edmond Jaeger designed and equipped the early Cartier form watches with round LeCoultre movements.

Check out the latest Tiffany Square Watch which joined body (and movement), the pantheon of shaped watches.


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

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.


Luxury timepieces from SIHH 2017: Franck Muller Vanguard 7 Days Power Reserve Skeleton comes in five versions

Franck Muller Vanguard 7 Days Power Reserve Skeleton in titanium

Franck Muller Vanguard 7 Days Power Reserve Skeleton in titanium

Watchmaking is about the long game and this year, at the Geneva presentations, we see more and more watchmakers address longevity in both the way the watches look and feel and, perhaps most importantly, how long they run. One of the biggest draws for people as they take their first steps into the world of high-end watchmaking is the fact that there are no electronics here.

The question of how a watch keeps working without a battery often motivates people to look beneath the dial. This is certainly true of everyone who works at WOW! More broadly speaking, given that everything in our lives is powered by something fossil fuel in most cases. The idea that something could function on nothing more than kinetic energy is fascinating.

Franck Muller, famously known as the Master of Complications, certainly recognises this very basic aspect of falling in love with your watch. The Vanguard 7 Days Power Reserve Skeleton picks up on this passion and goes deep with it. Here, not only will the watch simply keep going, seemingly by way of mysterious mechanical magic, but the entire presentation is transparent thanks to the heavy skeletonising evident in Calibre FM1740. The idea here, in our view, is to encourage a relationship with the watch because it is literally powered by the wearer this is a manually wound calibre, so one will have to wind it via the crown.

On a more practical level, the Vanguard 7 Days Power Reserve Skeleton defies the reputation of mechanical watches for needing constant attention, as it literally keeps on ticking for seven days (on a full wind). When winding up the watch, one can see how the gears respond to the action from the crown. Unfortunately, there is no power reserve indicator here, with the marker on the balance actually being the regulating index.

Having such a long power reserve is useful because one could go through a few different watches in a week before returning to the Vanguard 7 Days and still find it keeping the correct time. On a more fun note, if one is so inclined, one can attempt to overwind the mainspring and see how the movement responds. Seriously though, winding the watch up to the max is really the best thing as it will deliver the best performance when the mainspring is at or close to maximum torque.

On that note, as is clearly obvious here, and par for the course when it comes to the Vanguard, the skeletonising is of the contemporary sort. Another thing to note is that the transparent seconds track at six o’clock is in sapphire, but this depends on the case material. There are actually five versions of the Vanguard 7 Days Power Reserve, in five different materials: white gold, pink gold, stainless steel, carbon, and titanium. We shot the titanium version, which has an interesting white PVD treatment.


Movement Manual-winding Calibre FM1740
Power Reserve Seven days
Case 44 millimetres x 53.7 millimetres in white gold, pink gold, stainless steel, carbon, and titanium; water resistant to 30 metres
Strap Rubber and nylon with deployant buckle
Price S$55,619

This article was originally published in WOW.

Franck Muller Gravity Tourbillon Skeleton: Specifications, colours and the beautiful mechanism of the luxury watch

Gravity and timekeeping make strange but fetching bedfellows as shown here in the Franck Muller Gravity Tourbillon Skeleton. For a start, let’s get the strange part out of the way. Gravity is a force that certainly affects space-time and it is very cool in that way. Unfortunately, how it does this is very poorly understood by most people, largely because it is counter-intuitive. Since Abraham-Louis Breguet invented the tourbillon, the world of mechanical timekeeping has had a special relationship with this fundamental force.

On the one hand, it made admirable strides in illustrating how a mechanical system could correct for errors in rate caused by gravity’s effect on the hairspring. On the other hand, it also gave the impression that gravity was an avowed enemy of timekeeping but this is certainly not the case.

The Franck Muller Gravity Tourbillon Skeleton zooms in on the poetic side of gravity, leaning on the fact that gravity effectively causes space-time to curve. This is reflected to amazing effect in the gentle slope of the tourbillon carriage and bridges. The implication of this design is that gravity is causing deformations around the escapement, without causing any visible effects. This is extraordinarily beautiful. Adding to this are the matching blue accents in the carriage and the bridges, alongside the now-familiar curves of the Vanguard case. It helps of course that the tourbillon is quite large, with the carriage itself having a diameter of 21.2mm; the balance wheel is likewise quite large at 14mm and is set noticeably off-centre, calling further attention to the entire assembly.


Returning to that striking blue colour for a moment and the contrast with the black elements, the manual-winding calibre CS-03.SQT largely uses anodized aluminium so there is a wide range of colour possibilities here, from orange to yellow, to blue and more. Franck Muller says personalization is certainly a possibility here. As for that black, it is the result of a PVD treatment but the movement can also feature 5N or rhodium plating.


Movement Manual-winding CS-03.SQT with tourbillon; 5-day power reserve

Case 38.4mm x 39.6mm PVD-treated titanium, steel, rose gold or white gold; water resistant to 30 meters

Strap Rubber and nylon

Review: Franck Muller Vanguard Grande Date

Tonneau-shaped watches are usually behind round or rectangle watches on the popularity scale, but there are some exceptions, the Franck Muller Vanguard being one of them. An offshoot of the classical Cintrée Curvex, this relatively new collection represents a younger, more dynamic Franck Muller as it features robust dimensions, bold aesthetics, strong curves, and bright colors – hence the name Vanguard. Its larger than average size also requires a big personality to pull off, although being large also brings along other advantages, namely, more space to show off what’s inside the watch.

New for 2016, the Vanguard Grande Date has much to share and with a fully openworked dial, hides nothing. This is exactly the kind of watch you’d want to be wearing on an idle weekend afternoon, a glass of wine in one hand and loupe on the other. Through the sapphire crystal, you could easily make out the shape of the movement, which follows exactly that of the case. Not that this has any practical function, but it is always nice to know that the movement is dedicated to the watch.

Its Côtes de Genève finishing provides a neat backdrop to the layers of bridges and skeletonised wheels on top. Both chronograph counters are see-through, as is the grande date display, which is especially alluring with a stepped wheel for the individual digits of the date. All of the components have been hand-beveled or circular-grained or decorated with Côtes de Genève. The Vanguard Grande Date is available in four material variations: titanium, stainless steel, rose gold, and carbon.


Dimensions: 44mm x 53.7mm

Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, grande date, chronograph

Power Reserve: 46 hours

Movement: Self-winding Calibre FM 7002V1GGDTC3

Case: Stainless steel, titanium, rose gold, or carbon

Water Resistance: 30 meters

Strap: Rubber-lined leather or nylon with deployant buckle

This article was first published in WOW.

Franck Muller

9 Stealth All-Black Watches: Dark Beasts

All-black watches are cool. It is that simple. Whether they sport in-house power plants and are the result of internal research and development or use third-party solutions, these watches are captivating. As we show in this spread engineered (and published) by WOW (World of Watches), there are plenty of forms for these dark horses of space-time to take. How did it all start? Well we won’t bore you with the details but watches with black dials offered better visibility for wearers and less glare to unwittingly call attention to the wearer.

These qualities appealed to the military mind of course and so of course many aviator timepieces had black dials. It wasn’t until 1972 that an all-black watch – with case, dial and bracelet entirely in black – emerged. That was the legendary Porsche Design Chronograph 1. Here are nine watches proudly flying the black flag into the 21st century.

BulgariBulgari Octo Ultranero Velocissimo

Bulgari Octo Ultranero Velocissimo

  • Dimensions: 41mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, date, chronograph
  • Power Reserve: 50 hours
  • Movement: Automatic BVL 328 based on Zenith El Primero calibre
  • Material: DLC-coated steel
  • Water Resistance: 100 meters
  • Strap: Rubber
PaneraiPanerai Luminor 1950 10 Days

Panerai Luminor 1950 10 Days GMT Ceramica

  • Dimensions: 44mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, date, GMT, 24-hour hand, power reserve indicator
  • Power Reserve: 10 days
  • Movement: Automatic Panerai P.2003 calibre
  • Material: Black ceramic
  • Water Resistance: 100 meters
  • Strap: Buffalo, black
HYTHYT H4 Gotham

HYT H4 Gotham

  • Dimensions: 51mm
  • Functions: Retrograde hours, minutes, seconds, power reserve indicator
  • Power Reserve: 65 hours
  • Movement: Manual-winding, HYT calibre
  • Material: 3DPT carbon
  • Water Resistance: 50 meters
  • Strap: Black rubber with integrated Nomex fabric
Franck MullerFranck Muller

Franck Muller Black Croco

  • Dimensions: 55mm x 39mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, central seconds
  • Power Reserve: 42 hours
  • Movement: Automatic calibre FM 800
  • Material: PVD-treated steel
  • Water Resistance: 30 meters
  • Strap: Crocodile, black
ChopardChopard Superfast Chrono Split Second

Chopard Superfast Chrono Split Second

  • Dimensions: 45mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, date, chronograph with split seconds,
  • Power Reserve: 42 hours
  • Movement: Automatic
  • Material: DLC-coated steel
  • Water Resistance: 100 meters
  • Strap: Calfskin, black
BremontBremont ALT1-B

Bremont ALT1-B in DLC-coated steel; $9,000

  • Dimensions: 43mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, date, chronograph
  • Power Reserve: 42 hours
  • Movement: Automatic calibre BE-54AE
  • Material: DLC-coated steel
  • Water Resistance: 100 meters
  • Strap: Calfskin, black
Bell & RossBell & Ross BR-X1 Carbon Forgé

Bell & Ross BR-X1 Carbon Forgé

  • Dimensions: 45mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, date, chronograph
  • Power Reserve: NA
  • Movement: Automatic calibre BR-CAL.313
  • Material: Carbon, titanium and ceramic
  • Water Resistance: 100 meters
  • Strap: Alligator and grey rubber
MontblancMontblanc TimeWalker Urban Speed UTC

Montblanc TimeWalker Urban Speed UTC

  • Dimensions: 41mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, central seconds, date, second time zone
  • Power Reserve: 42 hours
  • Movement: Automatic calibre MB 24.05
  • Material: DLC-coated steel
  • Water Resistance: 30 meters
  • Strap: Leather, black
SevenFridaySevenFriday V3/01

SevenFriday V3/01

  • Dimensions: 44.3mm x 49.7mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, day/night indicator
  • Power Reserve: 40 hours
  • Movement: Automatic Miyota 82S7
  • Material: PVD-treated steel
  • Water Resistance: 30 meters
  • Strap: Leather, black

Story Credits

Photography Greenplasticsoldiers

Art Direction Joaelle Ng

This article was first published in WOW.

Franck Muller Vanguard Tourbillon Skeleton

Review: Franck Muller Vanguard Tourbillon Skeleton

The art of skeletonization is often recognized as the highest form of movement decoration, and for good reason. Literally taking the edges off all the plates and bridges, as well as major components, skeletonization reduces a movement to such a bare minimum that its functionality often teeters in the balance. Extreme skeletonization demonstrates a watchmaker’s bravado – how much material can be removed before the movement loses its stability?

But there’s no room for trepidation here because every component cut and every hollow bored must be done with surgical precision in order to preserve optimum timekeeping performance yet achieve maximum skeletonization. As a matter of fact, this task is so complex that the end result is often regarded as a complicated movement in its own right, and who better to turn to for such an intrepid creation than the Master of Complications, Franck Muller?

Like most haute horlogerie marques, Franck Muller is no stranger to this category of fine watchmaking. In fact, it has been making skeletonized watches since the day it was born. Some of its most recent creations include the Giga Tourbillon with its openworked movement and the 7 Days Power Reserve, which boasts more negative space than actual movement, pushing skeletonization to new extremes.

Even though these are technical heavyweights, what with a tourbillon and seven days long power reserve, the watches appear almost light and airy. This hollow, weightless effect is what the new Vanguard Tourbillon Skeleton went for, but with a decidedly modern twist.Franck Muller Vanguard Tourbillon Skeleton closeup

Maximum skeletonization has been achieved but with absolutely no compromise on movement stability, thanks to the astutely designed structure, which reminds one of the many beams on a suspension bridge – that’s quite apt considering that these minute, hollowed out parts are, themselves, called bridges. Echoing the color scheme of the case, they have been hand-polished and assembled, although judging from the rounded internal angles, one would surmise they had been cut and beveled by machine. Still, when fully put together, the movement Calibre FM 2001 is just as likely to sweep you off your feet, and we haven’t even begun to talk about its flying tourbillon regulator.

Those familiar with Franck Muller’s complications would immediately recognise the tourbillon carriage rendered in the shape of the manufacture’s initials. Held together by three screws, the asymmetrical FM insignia makes it just that little bit harder for the watchmaker to regulate the tourbillon, but Franck Muller had it mastered eons ago. Set in a circular black finished aperture, the carriage is finished to the same effect as the skeletonized bridges – pink gold with vertical brushing – and beneath it lay the blackened balance wheel oscillating at 18,000vph, the escapement, and the hairspring. The Vanguard Tourbillon Skeleton comes in titanium, carbon, stainless steel, and pink gold.


  • Dimensions: 44mm x 53.7mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes
  • Power Reserve: 60 hours
  • Movement: Manual-winding Calibre FM 2001 with flying tourbillon
  • Case: 44mm x 53.7mm in pink gold, titanium, carbon, and stainless steel
  • Water Resistance: 30 meters
  • Strap: Rubber-lined nylon or crocodile leather with matching deployant buckle

This article was first published in WOW magazine.

Poker Face: 4 Watches to Tempt Lady Luck

Whatever we know about poker, we largely learned from watching Casino Royale. That’s not a lot. But the general idea is in wearing a “poker face” to mask emotions like panic, while wearing a watch that gets all the attention to make the former easier to effect. To be a shark, one must look it, at least.

Franck Muller Vanguard GravityFRANCK-MULLER_Vanguard-Gravity_New

It’s only conventional looking at first glance. After that, the elliptical tourbillon cage does its magic, the way something a little out of alignment or off-centre compels the viewer to be obsessed about it. One cannot help but stare.

Richard Mille Tourbillon Evil EyeRM-26-02-TOURBILLON-EVIL-EYE---FRONT-EDITED

Richard Mille is an old hand at translating futuristic technologies into its timepieces. For the gambler, it has also gone to the other extreme, into the past, for the “evil eye” that is quite prevalent in ancient times from various cultures. Gambling is heavily shrouded in superstition and luck; the Tourbillon Evil Eye then is a tabletop nuke to spook all opponents held in its dreadful gaze. With a 50-hour power reserve, it is good to play for more than two whole days – are you game?

Zenith Academy Christophe Colomb Hurricane Grand Voyage IIAcademy_CC_Hurricane_Grand_Voyage_II_packshot

The myriad displays exert a hypnotic effect; steampunk classy and  sophisticated, one already looks a winner regardless of the hand fate has dealt. An archaic fusée-and-chain mechanism ensures constant force transmission, while a gyroscopic module keeps the escapement permanently in the horizontal position. While the El Primero beating heart moves at a super-fast frequency, make sure yours stays calm as a clam.

U-Boat Flightdeck 925 ElementiumU-Boat-Flightdeck-925-Elementium

The 50mm sterling silver case alone is eye catching enough, but just in case, fissures have been drilled into the chassis, and 204 diamonds set into the cracks (brown and black). The cracks even extend to the leather strap, to an effect reminiscent of ruptured tarmac. Comes with a carbon fibre dial for even more in-your-face badassery.

Story Credits

Text by Yeo Suan Futt

Styling by Ong Weisheng

Photography by GreenPlasticSoldierS

This story was first published in World of Watches.

Green Light: Franck Muller Vanguard Carbon Krypton

The past few years have witnessed many advances in case construction using materials and techniques previously unseen in the watch industry, such as NTPT carbon and Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS). Given the success of its Vanguard collection and penchant for venturing off the beaten path, it comes as no surprise that Franck Muller, too, would join the fray with a creation of its own. Enter the Vanguard Carbon Krypton.

First unveiled at WPHH 2016, the Vanguard Carbon Krypton takes its inspiration – and name – from Kryptonite, a fictional material from the DC Comics universe. Usually depicted as a green glowing mineral, Kryptonite is Superman’s Achilles heel as its radiation can severely weaken the otherwise invulnerable superhero, which makes it a popular plot device for writers. Under normal lighting, the Vanguard Carbon Krypton bears little resemblance to the substance, although its dial does sport some detailing in fluorescent green. In the dark, the timepiece presents a whole other visage as specks of green Super-LumiNova, previously all but invisible, emit their characteristic glow across the case and dial.

Do not expect the strong glow of a neon light though. The effect is subtler; the closest analogue is probably the glow given off by bioluminescent plankton in the ocean. With a little imagination, it’s easy to see the watch transforming into a shaped chunk of ore embedded with flecks of Kryptonite. Unfortunately, this is nearly impossible to capture accurately in a photo, and best appreciated in person. To accomplish this, Franck Muller tweaked the case production process to have Super-LumiNova particles interspersed within the carbon fibre matrix, before the resin is cured and milled into a completed case.

Visual impact aside, the Vanguard Carbon Krypton maintains the winning formula that has made the Vanguard collection so popular. Its Cintrée Curvex case is a bold 44mm by 53.7mm, but remains wearable due to the lack of lugs, and houses a three-hand movement fitted with a simple date complication. A hybrid strap with a nylon-on-rubber construction and matching green stitching completes the package.


  • Dimensions: 44mm x 53.7mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date
  • Power Reserve: 42 hours
  • Movement: Self-winding FM 0800 calibre
  • Material: Carbon
  • Water Resistance: 30 meters
  • Strap: Nylon on rubber, with ardillon clasp

Story Credits

Text by Jamie Tan

This story was first published in World of Watches.

Focus: Franck Muller Vanguard Collection

Apart from Master of Complications, Franck Muller’s other nom de guerre could very well be Defier of Conventions, because this leading-edge watch company has never been known to just follow the rules. Since its inception, Franck Muller’s style of watchmaking has always been considered unique and avant-garde. As a matter of fact, the company’s eponymous founder himself is known to be a maverick in every sense of the word – and one with a wicked sense of humour to boot. Coupled with some truly mad skills honed from classical watchmaking, Muller was able to reimagine high complications like no other contemporary watchmaker of his time. This watchmaking whiz had been the mastermind behind such inimitable works of horological creativity and flair as the Master Banker, Crazy Hours, Totally Crazy, the mind-blowing Aeternitas series of grand complications, and more recently, such dazzling pieces as the Giga Tourbillon. Indeed, these are not watches for the meek, and likewise, the Franck Muller Vanguard collection was made to be revered.

Introduced just two years ago in 2013, the Vanguard is the modern face of Franck Muller. All-time best sellers like the Cintrée Curvex and Long Island have dominated its brand identity for the better part of the 2000s, thanks largely in part to the highly recognisable tonneau or rectangular case with curved sapphire crystal and those whimsical Art Deco-inspired hour numerals, which have become practically synonymous with Franck Muller. While these watches have been and will always remain the company’s classical icons, it is also apparent that existing owners of these watches want and need something else to go on with – something that was irrevocably Franck Muller yet also different, daring, and even more exciting. This was the raison d’être of the Vanguard, a watch that retained the core DNA of the Cintrée Curvex but turned the dial several notches up both in terms of technicality and design.


Audacity may be Franck Muller’s middle name, but the Geneva-based watchmaker did in fact cut his teeth tinkering with horology’s most complicated mechanisms. Legend has it that Muller, in his apprentice years, once tampered with a Rolex watch, deconstructing the movement and adding extra components to make it a perpetual calendar. Legend didn’t say whose Rolex it was, but that’s not really the point. More importantly, Muller went on to found his own brand shortly after graduating from watchmaking school in the late 1980s to early 1990s and introduced new and ever more cutting-edge timepieces year after year. Those watches had been released as world premiers and they included the first tourbillon watch that featured the tourbillon on the dial side, a practice that did not exist before then.

Vanguard Tourbillon with precious materials

Vanguard Tourbillon with precious materials

Decades have passed since Franck Muller made that audacious decision, but the company’s bold approach to tourbillon-making hasn’t dwindled one bit. If anything, it’s became even more daring, especially since the turn of the millennium with collections like the Evolution watches, the Aeternitas watches, and, more recently, the larger-than-life Giga Tourbillon and the super-sized Gravity. Where the Giga Tourbillon exudes a more classical appeal, however, the Gravity is unmistakeably avant-garde and contemporary, which means it is just perfect for the Vanguard collection.

This technical tour de force leaves a huge impact, thanks in no small part to its colossal proportions. It occupies more than half of the watch’s dial, and this is by no means a dial of modest dimensions. The watch, after all, measures an impressive 44mm X 53.7mm. But what’s even more impressive is the architecture of the tourbillon, which arrests the eye with a pair of crossbars forming the bridge. Constructed in blackened steel, the entire structure arches over an elliptical aperture measuring 21.2mm at its widest and is doubly stable because it is screwed to the mainplate at four points instead of just two.

At the point where the crossbars meet, a single red ruby and its accompanying chatons keep the aluminium tourbillon carriage firmly attached to the bridge. As it rotates once every 60 seconds, the carriage chases the balance wheel around an elliptical path. In accordance with the oversized theme, the balance wheel at 14mm also measures large. Even the applied numerals and the hour and minute hands are robust to say the least. The Vanguard Gravity is also deeply versatile, sporting a host of case materials from black-treated titanium to precious white or pink gold. Each variation bears a unique colour palette that shows different sides of the watch.


In addition to the Gravity, the Vanguard collection also includes more classical models like the Vanguard Tourbillon and Vanguard Chronograph. While clearly on a different league than the Vanguard Gravity, these watches definitely hold their own in the complications arena. The tourbillon model, in particular, espouses the familiar black-polished FM tourbillon carriage found in all Franck Muller flying tourbillons. Whether set fully with diamonds or designed with a cool industrial style, the Vanguard complicated models are a veritable force to be reckoned with.


The importance of design in luxury watchmaking cannot be overstated and in the case of Franck Muller, it even helped establish one of its watches as a contemporary icon. The classic Cintrée Curvex with fancy Art Deco numerals takes its place as the most recognisable Franck Muller watch of all, and it proffers little more than just the time and date. Available in a dizzying array of colours and styles, the Cintrée Curvex classic pieces follow the shape of the wrist flawlessly and this intangible feature is perhaps its biggest selling point. For years, budding watch collectors have swooned over the watch’s just-right proportions, funky numerals, and discreet dial décor, proving that while high complications are exciting to discover, simple pieces often win the day.

With the Vanguard collection, one doesn’t have to look too far to find traces of design creativity. Of course, the complicated watches pack a punch with a heady mix of different materials for the cases, dials, and straps. Even the simple models could sometimes steal their thunder, and the Vanguard Cobra is a shining example. This magnificent creation would definitely get under your skin and, love it or loathe it, there’s no ignoring it. Following in the footsteps of provocative earlier models in the Cintrée Curvex line like the Iron Croco, Black Croco, and Gold Croco, the Vanguard Cobra brings some serious swagger.

Like crocodile and alligator leather, snakeskin evokes a kind of sensuality and seductive quality that other skins generally don’t. It is this unabashed, unbridled indulgence that evokes luxury. With the Vanguard Cobra, this sensation had been doubly heightened when Franck Muller carved a solid gold case with lines emulating the scales of a deadly King Cobra. And not just the case but the dial, as well, reflects this captivating design motif. The components have been milled from a single block of gold in order to achieve realistic cobra scales, complemented by the rubber and leather cobra-effect strap. With just a little imagination, one could definitely see the similarities between this Vanguard case and the extendable hood behind the head of this largest of all cobras.

The Vanguard Pixel flaunts creativity in a novel fashion

The Vanguard Pixel flaunts creativity in a novel fashion

Moving over from the snake pit to the smart watch arena, Franck Muller has decided to throw its hat into the ring with its own rendition of a digital watch – tongue firmly in cheek. And if you find yourself complaining about the resolution, then you’ve simply missed the point. Technically, the Vanguard Pixel isn’t much, but visually, it is a refreshing sight even for tired eyes – as long as your sense of humour remains intact. Like a low-resolution image full of pixelated squares, the case and dial of the watch is covered in alternating polished and brushed miniature squares. There is no trompe-l’oeil going on here, though, because even when the case and dial are covered with pixels, the black flange indicating cardinal points, the oversized hour numerals, the Franck Muller insignia, the hour and minute hands, as well as the date, all remain in perfectly sharp focus.


Where the Vanguard Cobra and Vanguard Pixel is designed to stand out, the Vanguard Camouflage aims to blend in – at least it tries. With a matte black titanium case, the dials of these watches are swathed in the classic camouflage motif but over a range of colours including khaki, green, grey, and blue. There are three variations available: time-only, chronograph, and tourbillon. An army-inspired watch with a tourbillon? Why not? After all, there are different ranks in the military, aren’t there? Plus, to have options is always good; even Starbucks offers tall, grande, and venti.

Fully set with diamonds, the Vanguard Lady will set your heart ablaze

Fully set with diamonds, the Vanguard Lady will set your heart ablaze


The true test of a watch’s longevity, its ability to stand the test of time, lies in its suitability for everyday wear. This is true of all watches recognised as icons today, including but not limited to the Rolex Submariner, the Omega Speedmaster, and definitely the Franck Muller Cintrée Curvex. At its most basic, the Vanguard is still an excitable timepiece, what with the bold appliqué numerals and chunky hour and minute hands dominating its mien. But this is all part of its DNA; its ancestor, the classic Cintrée Curvex, also had very large numerals. As a sports watch, however, the Vanguard does have some free play, its oversized dimensions lending themselves especially well to this cause.

Looking up close at the dial to discover a melange of details

Looking up close at the dial to discover a melange of details

In addition, Franck Muller doesn’t hold back in terms of design for this watch. Since its introduction in 2013, the Vanguard has taken on countless guises ranging from sporty titanium and black carbon to posh white gold and diamond pavé, not to mention numerous colour variations. Attesting to the versatility of the timepiece, this wide array serves to showcase Franck Muller’s long-term vision for the collection. With something for everyone, including women connoisseurs, the Vanguard embodies Franck Muller’s watchmaking philosophy and sets it in the present. Indeed, traditional high watchmaking is always appealing, especially to the watch connoisseurs, but with these watches, Franck Muller has shown that there is a way to be classical yet modern, adventurous, and anything but boring.

Bringing a bit of military chic to watchmaking is the Vanguard Camouflage

Bringing a bit of military chic to watchmaking is the Vanguard Camouflage


The Vanguard Yachting collection tightens the collaboration between Franck Muller and the Italian Sea Group


From the sapphire blue of the Mediterranean Sea to the turquoise waters of the Andaman, the open ocean never fails to relax the spirit, especially when you’re aboard a beautiful sailing or powerboat. The Franck Muller Vanguard Yachting is all about the seafaring world, as its design is inspired directly by the Franck Muller Yacht made for the Genevan watchmaker by the Italian Sea Group. Echoing the sensual curves of the vessel, the three models in the collection all feature maritime-inspired details like the deep blue of the dial and case middle, as well as the strap spiked with a touch of white like the body of most yachts, and the symbolic wind rose that adorns the dial.


Cased in a choice of stainless steel, titanium, or red gold, the collection includes three variants: classic, chronograph, and tourbillon. The pieces may be different in terms of movement, but they are united by super-high legibility achieved by setting pristine white appliqué hour numerals against the cobalt blue dial. Skeleton hands filled partially with white Super-LumiNova also help. Although every Vanguard model comes with the cardinal points on its inner flange, nowhere else is this element more pertinent than in the Vanguard Yachting collection, where navigation is the name of the game. On the case back, an engraving of the Franck Muller Yacht reinforces the nautical theme and each timepiece comes with a rubber-lined cordura strap with white or blue stitches.

Story Credits

Text by Celine Yap
Photography by Ching/Greenplasticsoldiers
Art Direction by Joaelle Ng

This article was originally published in World of Watches

Interview: Franck Muller

This is the WPHH’s third year in Hong Kong. How has the Asian market performed in this period, and what are your strategies in the current market conditions?

The market has slowed, but the strategy doesn’t change – we are not a public company, so there’s no external pressure to work a certain way. Of course our growth has slowed down, and profits are lower, but that’s OK, because our projects are not affected. We are constructing two new buildings in Watchland to add 16,000sqm of space, and still opening new boutiques. It’s business as usual.

You’re also growing Franck Muller into a very holistic brand, given the restaurants in the Hong Kong flagship boutique and the launch of a yacht.

Yes, this is the lifestyle aspect of the brand. Things like the yacht and the restaurants are intended for friends and customers of the brand, and this is important because I don’t want the brand to be too commercial.

You released the Black Croco last year, and followed up with the Cobra this year. Can we expect to see more textured cases in the coming years?

The Croco was successful, and the Cobra has been well received so far, but whether I make another one really depends, because the ideas for watches like these come from suggestions people give me in conversations. There is no plan to make a line; the ideas come organically through talking to people.


Franck Muller Vanguard Cobra

Franck Muller Vanguard Cobra

How did the concept for the Gravity come about?

The idea for the Gravity was to have a carrousel, which was new to us, and to have a big opening in it so that you can look inside the movement. The carrousel is a little different from the tourbillon, you know, because the balance wheel spins around the rotating cage’s central axis. Breguet didn’t differentiate between them when he filed his patent, but at Franck Muller, we call it a carrousel since it spins like one. We put this complication into the Vanguard because a carrousel’s parts are slightly little cheaper for us to fabricate, and the collection is supposed to be more competitively priced, so it’s a good match. Because of its size, however, the challenge was to poise and balance the components, and to have the movement deliver enough torque to power the complication.

The Vanguard Gravity has an aluminum rotating cage. Why did you choose this metal, when titanium offers similar benefits such as lightness and corrosion resistance, but is also stronger?

We had ideas to offer the Vanguard Gravity in different colorways, which is why we picked aluminum, as its surface can be treated to take on different colors. Titanium might be stronger, but it’s also more difficult to machine, which was a problem during production.

Franck Muller Vanguard Gravity

Franck Muller Vanguard Gravity

As the boss, are you still involved in the watchmaking side of the brand?

Yes. I still give my ideas for the new watches’ designs, and I help to find solutions to the challenges with their movements. Of course, I’m no longer as involved as I was in the past, because I need to spend my time on other aspects of the business as well.

Do you miss the watchmaking part though, and maybe wished you had more time for it?

No, my work has changed, and my life along with it. My time is better spent in the other areas of the business. Anyway, I’ve built an excellent team of watchmakers, and trained some of them personally over many years, so I’m not worried.

We have seen many tourbillons coming from China, but no Chinese manufacture has managed to produce a minute repeater yet. In your opinion as a watchmaker, is a minute repeater more difficult to achieve?

Of course! There’s no doubt about this. It’s like the difference between a four-cylinder Toyota and a 16-cylinder Bugatti. Firstly, there are around four times the parts inside a minute repeater, and some of these components are very difficult to make. It’s also a very complicated process to assemble and adjust a minute repeater, which is why there are so few of them. There is also the cost factor – a minute repeater is very expensive to produce, both in terms of time and talent, so it’s a high hurdle for a company to cross.

Perpetual calendars are commonly available as modules today, and even tourbillons can be purchased from external suppliers. Do you think a minute repeater will ever go that way?

Yes, and it’s already being done. Many minute repeaters that you see today are not made in-house, because very few brands can do it themselves.

Is there any complication that you feel you haven’t explored enough, and will want to touch on in the future?

Again, this depends on ideas, because you must start with one first before you can go around finding a solution for it. It’s like the Master Banker. The idea for it came from a customer of mine, who said that he needed a watch that could show three time zones at the same time. I worked for over a year based on this idea to come up with the watch, which showed three sets of hours and minutes, but based on just one movement. Future complications must also start with an idea before anything can proceed.

Do you have a favorite complication?

If I have to choose one, then it’s probably the Crazy Hour, because it’s fun. If not, then I will pick the classic grand complication: a minute repeater, perpetual calendar, tourbillon, and chronograph all in one.

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This article was originally published in World of Watches

Floating Tourbillon: Franck Muller Yachts 55 Open

Last year, with plenty of celebratory aplomb but also a strict exhortation to secrecy on the part of attending press, the Italian Sea Group (ISG) announced a new partnership with luxury watch brand Franck Muller, the creation of Franck Muller Yachts, and the first build in the new FMY range, the Franck Muller 55. Our friends at Yacht Style share the story with us.

When it comes to luxury brands – and yachts and watches are no exception – the key to visibility and character is differentiation. After all, watches are expected to tell the time, and we rather hope that all yachts float. So it’s when it comes down to the short strokes that we start looking for what sets the brands apart.

Creating a yacht building division by rolling together a superyacht builder and a superluxe watch brand is a novel idea. And yes, look carefully and you can see the signature lines of a Franck Muller watch carried through into the lines of the FMY powerboat. So how did this marriage of elegance come about?

The Italian Sea Group is a relative newcomer to the Italian superyacht scene, although that is not true of its constituent parts.

Franck Muller Yachts 55ft-1

NCA (Nuovi Cantieri Apuania) started building commercial ships in 1942, the Admiral brand launched its first 18m wooden vessel in 1966, and Tecnomar – another commercial builder – was founded in 1987. The three names came together as a ‘Group’ in 2013, under the enthusiastic direction of the Chairman, Giovanni Costantino.

At the same time a substantial injection of shareholder capital (reportedly in excess of €15 million) allowed ISG to totally rebuild and refurbish the existing NCA shipyard in Marina di Carrara, just up the road from Viareggio, Tuscany. The Italian Sea Group now boasts 100,000sqm of pristine production facilities that look more like an operating theater than a shipyard. An Italian journalist confided to us, “I pass by here quite often, and drop in unannounced. It always looks like this.”

Pride of place within the Marina di Carrara yard, within sight of the blinding white hillsides of the famous Carrara marble quarries, is the new shed with ‘Franck Muller Yachts’ on the door. The project is the creation of ISG’s Chairman, Giovanni Costantino, and Vartan Sirmakes, owner and founder of Franck Muller Watches, and is designed to artfully blend the high-end worlds of luxury watches and luxury boats. First off the cab rank for Franck Muller Yachts will be the FMY 55 that had just been popped out of the mold when we visited ISG in March, and was presented to the public at the Monaco Yacht Show in September. Yes this model is a reality…

Italian Sea Group 2015 trip

Viewing the newly-finished hull, and comparing it with the plans on display and the impressively shiny scale models, ISG/Franck Muller Yachts have come up with a boat with very attractive lines. Whether the lines of the boat have been inspired by the new line of yachting watches, or the other way round, is hard to tell – says Nicholas Rudaz, Director of Franck Muller. “Franck Muller creates aerodynamic watches with curves, and we wanted to create an aerodynamic boat – inspiration came from the watches.” On the other hand ISG Sales Director Francesco Carbone revealed that “the watch was created for the boat… with a curve, like a woman, a very sensual curve.” Take your pick.

What is special about this little craft, and what may well make it a huge success in Asia, is that it is first and foremost a day boat. The 55 Open, of which three have reportedly been sold into the US, straight ‘off plan’, boasts a huge open cockpit and then an expansive saloon beneath the foredeck. It is a big, elegant speedboat with bags of entertaining space. Carbone again: “It is a ‘Lounge Concept’. We have gone right away from the ‘small galley, one small cabin, one medium cabin, one small bathroom’ department, and opened up the interior. The design encompasses a huge open cockpit, a huge open foredeck space covered in sunpads, and the huge covered lounge. It’s a party boat – please, bring the champagne.”

A pair of Volvo 950 engines will push it up to 46kts, so you’re going to go wherever you want to – fast. Whether it is pure serendipity, or whether Franck Muller Yachts’ designer, Gian Marco Campanini, has been listening to the Asian whispers that keep taking about “day boats, not weekenders”, we could not ascertain, but on the drawing board the result is elegant, classy, and – yes – absolutely designed-for-Asia.

Italian Sea Group 2015 trip

Giovanni Costantino, Chairman Italian Sea Group (left); Nicholas Rudaz, Director FM Watches (second from right); and VIPs at the unveiling of the FM55 model

The complete family of Franck Muller Yachts will include 55, 68, 80 and 100 versions, with the 55 and 68 available as either Open or Hard Top. When the first Franck Muller Yachts 55 Open showed at Monaco in September, the craftsmen and artisans of the Italian Sea Group revealed something thoroughly different in carbon, aluminum, glass and sapphire, and all yours for an estimated €1.6 million, which makes it exceptionally good value for money. There won’t be a straight line in sight, and the attention to detail and finish will be as perfect as Swiss clockwork. ISG Chairman Giovanni Costantino declares that “this is a boat built by artists, not by boat builders.”

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By Guy Nowell

Maison Franck Muller – Hong Kong’s Flagship

Maison Franck Muller Hong Kongs Flagship 5Opening a café or restaurant within another business is usually nothing new, with departmental stores and even libraries offering such combinations nowadays. Consider for a moment, however, the idea of having culinary establishments within a watch boutique. Haute horology with epicurean delights? Yes! Franck Muller has done that with not one, but two gourmet restaurants, and integrated them into its maison in Hong Kong.Maison Franck Muller Hong Kongs Flagship 4Maison Franck Muller had its grand opening last month – the brand’s fourth exclusive boutique in the territory. The maison is located within prime retail space on Causeway Bay’s Sharp Street East, and boasts 9500 square feet of floor space, making it Hong Kong’s flagship boutique for the brand. On its ground floor, guests can explore the timepieces from Franck Muller’s latest collections. A personal lift leads to the first floor, where the manufacture’s complicated watches are housed. In addition, the first floor of the maison also carries creations from Backes & Strauss and Cvstos, two brands associated with Franck Muller. The former is the oldest diamond company in the world that has produced high-end luxury timepieces in partnership with Franck Muller since 2006, whilst the latter has a privileged relationship with Franck Muller owing to familial ties.Maison Franck Muller Hong Kongs Flagship 2The top two floors of Maison Franck Muller are occupied by the abovementioned restaurants. The second floor houses Francesco by Franck Muller, which offers Italian-Japanese fusion cuisine. Its signature dishes include sashimi octopus salad wagyu oxtail stew, and linguini topped with scallop au gratin. Its sister restaurant, Eighteen Sharp, is located on the maison’s top floor and serves contemporary Chinese cuisine with a western twist. Three different set dinners ranging from HK$680 to HK$1888 per person are available for a comprehensive experience of Eighteen Sharp’s offerings. Diners’ choices include baked prawns with French mustard seed and honey lemon sauce, and Bamboo Glory – a smorgasbord of delights including shredded abalone, Japanese wagyu, and crabmeat garnished with caviar and cauliflower.Maison Franck Muller Hong Kongs Flagship 3With Hong Kong being such a popular destination and Watches & Wonders just weeks away, visitors to the territory may want to consider a visit to Maison Franck Muller on one of their evenings. 

“Roberto Cavalli by Franck Muller” watch collection

Roberto Cavalli Franck Muller

Roberto Cavalli has teamed up with Swiss haute horlogerie brand Franck Muller for the “Roberto Cavalli by Franck Muller” watch collection.

WWD reports January 16 that the timepieces will be available in Cavalli boutiques, as well as Franck Muller stores and selected retailers.

Available for men and women, prices for the timekeepers will begin at around €1,250, although there will also be more luxurious items retailing at €6,000.
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Franck Muller Only Watch 2011

Franck Muller Totally Switzerland – Only Watch 2011

Franck Muller Only Watch 2011

Here’s a look at Franck Muller’s contribution for the 2011 ONLY Watch charity auction.

The unique watch designed for this occasion is dubbed “Totally Switzerland” and painted in a distinctive vibrant shade of red, characteristic for the Swiss flag.

This model is a variation of the Franck Muller Crazy Hours design, which offers an innovative approach to the concept of time.
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Backes & Strauss Regent 1609 AD Watch

The Regent 1609 AD is the first Backes & Strauss limited edition timepiece. The name of the luxury watch pays tribute to English astronomer Thomas Harriett who made the first drawings of the moon, before Galileo.

The Backes & Strauss 1609 AD watch showcases an original and luxurious moon phase indicator, which presents a representation of a 17-star constellation, depicted in round brilliant diamonds.

Produced in collaboration with Geneva’s Franck Muller Watchland, which manufactures the movements and completes assembly, Backes & Strauss watches sparkle with diamonds set in 18k gold cases shaped to accentuate the multifaceted gems’ play of light.

Established in 1789, Backes & Strauss is famed for being the world’s oldest diamond company and every Backes & Strauss watch has at least one diamond, set by hand into the crown.

The Regent 1609 AD is currently on display in the Harrods Fine Jewellery in London until it is officially launched in October 2008. The model will be limited to 219 pieces (in two sizes) and available in different diamond combinations, from £17,000 ($34,000).