Tag Archives: Franck Muller

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.

Specifications

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.

franck-muller-gravity-sqt-planche-croquis-bleu

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.

Specifications

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.

Specs

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.

Specs

  • 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.

Specs

  • 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.

TECHNICAL FLAIR

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.

03-Vanguard-Gravity-Red

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.

AESTHETIC SOPHISTICATION

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.

06-Vanguard-Gold-Cobra

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

CLASSIC VERSATILITY

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

ALL HANDS ON DECK

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

12-Vanguard-Yachting-Closeup

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.

10-Vanguard-Yachting-1

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.

Story Credits

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.”

Story Credits

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).