Style / World of Watches (WOW)

Franck Muller Vanguard Casablanca: Beautiful Friendship

Franck Muller adds vim and vigour to its Casablanca classic, now in the Vanguard collection.

Jan 18, 2022 | By Ashok Soman
Vanguard-Casablanca V41, V43
Image: Franck Muller

When we first heard that Franck Muller was bringing its Casablanca model into the 21st century, we immediately thought of the 1998 Cintree Curvex model that embodied everything that made the watchmaker fresh and exciting. After hitting the books on this subject and searching furiously online, we got the news that the new Franck Muller was in fact in the Vanguard series, and we had to start from scratch!

To be fair, the Vanguard (introduced in 2013) is the 21st century iteration of the Cintree Curvex so the brand would have likely chosen it over the traditional Cintree Curvex. The Vanguard is perhaps a little more sporty, open and welcoming than the quintessentially quirky Cintree Curvex. 

Franck Muller Vanguard Casablanca Boutique Exclusive
Vanguard Casablanca Boutique Exclusive. Image: Franck Muller

To summarise, there are two time-and-date versions — one larger than the other — for this initial launch, but the manufacture says there is also a chronograph on the way. The size of the three-hander is what makes the Franck Muller Vanguard Casablanca newsworthy for us: in 41mm and 43mm, the new stainless steel case is a first in the Vanguard collection, and it is exclusive to Southeast Asia.

Franck Muller Southeast Asia General Manager Garrik Low explains the significance of this as follows: “We’ve developed a brand new case size that bears the distinctive style and codes of the brand, and that our collectors have desired for a long time.” A 43mm option for the Vanguard is indeed welcome news, given the proportions here but we will get into that later.

Vanguard Casablanca Black
Image: Franck Muller

To properly dig into this model, the name Casablanca requires an explanation. Of course, this is a reference to the classic 1942 film starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman that inspired Franck Muller to dream up the original Cintree Curvex model, complete with its Art Deco style numerals. The original colourways of the model such as salmon and sand are clearly inspired by the aesthetics of the film (and also coincide with certain contemporary tastes). The young watchmaker graduated to bigger and better things, and the company that bears his name took elegant and sumptuous watchmaking to new levels. In 2022, the Casablanca model returns, this time with all the advantages of the Vanguard design.

Where the Cintree Curvex is all curves, the Vanguard adds lines that help to make the biomorphic tonneau design more flexible (as we have covered in more depth here), and arguably more masculine. The Vanguard is the vigour to the Cintree Curvex’s vim, so to speak. This is a matter of opinion, and we leave it to your senses to decide.

Vanguard Casablanca (Brown)
Vanguard Casablanca Brown. Image: Franck Muller
Vanguard Casablanca (Salmon)
Vanguard Casablanca Salmon. Image: Franck Muller

What is certain here is the immediate appeal of the larger size and the four new colourways (black, brown, salmon and the boutique exclusive black-with-blue accents). More divisive will be how the word Casablanca appears on the dial, although it is worth remembering that it was always present, even in 1998. Something else worth remembering is finding a way to try on the watches because the dimensions of the Vanguard are, in full, 42.5mm x 52.7mm for the larger version. It is 12.6mm thick. The smaller version is 41mm x 49.95mm, and it is 12.2mm thick. This sort of watch has to wear just right or the effect is spoiled. 

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