Franck Muller: Larger Than Life
Franck Muller embraces daring dimensions and an adventurous spirit with its growing Vanguard collection.
Franck Muller introduced its Cintrée Curvex case in 1992 during the early days of the current mechanical watchmaking revival. Soon after, the tonneau-shaped case’s pronounced curves could be found hugging wrists around the world as the Cintrée Curvex became one of the most recognizable watch cases of the modern era.
More than 20 years later — in 2013 — Franck Muller unveiled the Vanguard collection as a sporty heir to the Cintrée Curvex legacy. The Vanguard shares its predecessor’s curved profile, but it amplifies the original proportions for a case that’s 44mm wide and nearly 54mm tall. Unapologetically bold, the design is perfectly calibrated for larger-than-life personalities.
A CLEAR DIFFERENCE
One of the most unconventional members of the Vanguard family also happens to be the newest — the Vanguard Gravity Skeleton Tourbillon. Introduced this year, Franck Muller takes full advantage of the case’s extra space to highlight a super-size tourbillon, which transforms the dial into a kinetic sculpture that’s impossible to ignore.
In the Gravity Skeleton, the tourbillon’s avant-garde design includes a balance wheel and spring that don’t line up with the tourbillon cage’s central axis. Instead, they’re off-center, which gives the mechanism its distinctive elliptical orbit as it rotates every 60 seconds.
The engineering needed to perfect such an advanced design is impressive, but that technical achievement is elevated further by the minimalistic approach. Using open space as a design element helps focus attention on the inherent beauty of the skeletonized movement. Its bridges have been reduced substantially, leaving behind thin metal limbs that make up the hand-wound caliber.
Here, the Gravity Skeleton Tourbillon adopts a stealthy look thanks to a coating of black PVD to its bridges and titanium case. But what truly energizes the design is the contrast between those dark elements and the brightly colored tourbillon cage and matching hands, which come in a range of colors.
KNOWING ALL THE ANGLES
Franck Muller continues to explore its fascination with skeletonized movements through another member of the Vanguard family: the 7 Day Power Reserve Skeleton. The company has previously released the 7 Day Power Reserve in its Cintrée Curvex and Round cases. In those versions, the design took its cues from traditional watchmaking, especially the organic and ornate look of the skeletonized bridges. In the Vanguard, however, the design adopts an industrial edge, juxtaposing the bridge’s sharp angles and straight lines to direct the viewer’s eyes to the center of the watch. Clustered near the center, round elements like the balance wheel and mainspring barrel soften the look.
Made in-house, the watch’s hand-wound movement tucks neatly into the signature Vanguard case, which is available in five different materials: white gold, rose gold, stainless steel, carbon and titanium.
Franck Muller welcomed another model to the Vanguard collection this year with the introduction of the Grande Date. The movement isn’t skeletonized, but is still revealing thanks to the absence of a dial. This exposes sections of the automatic movement, which are decorated with the traditional Côtes de Genève pattern for a beautifully finished look. As a bonus, the open design also brings into sharp focus the numbered wheels that make up the watch’s titular complication.
What’s also visible is the chronograph’s inner workings, which come alive when the buttons on the side of the case are pushed to stop, start and reset the timer function. When it’s running, the chronograph’s subdial at 3 o’clock counts the minutes while the red-tipped center hand ticks off the seconds.
In addition to those specialized timepieces, the Vanguard collection is also home a range watches for men and women that includes everything from basic time-only models to tourbillons.
Without a doubt, there’s nothing bashful about this version of the Lady Vanguard Color Dreams. Set with rows of diamonds, the glittering rose gold case frames the white dial, which is decorated with undulating lines of guilloché. The raised and elongated Arabic numerals — a Vanguard collection signature — feature a rainbow of bright and cheerful hues that Franck Muller calls Color Dreams. A perfect example of grab-and-go convenience, the chic look is powered by a quartz caliber that doesn’t need winding and will run continuously for more than year. The Lady Vanguard collection features cases made from steel, white gold or rose gold.
A recent addition to the Vanguard family is also one of its most recognizable. The Yachting line adopts a jaunty nautical feel thanks to the wind rose design that’s incorporated into every dial. This naval motif was inspired partly by the Franck Muller Yacht, which was made especially for the watch company by the Italian Sea Group in 2015.
The Vanguard Yachting collection encompasses several timekeeping complications, from dates and chronographs up to tourbillons. Because Franck Muller puts a premium on variety, each of those is available in a stainless steel, rose gold or white gold case.
It’s often said that fortune favors the bold. That could easily be the tagline for the Vanguard, a collection of watches that aren’t afraid to tap into the power of personality.
Original article by Scott Hickey