The Franck Muller Group is defined by its namesake brand, the one that started it all with designs by the man, Franck Muller, that set watchmaking on its ear. For a brand that has been distinguished by inimitable designs, groundbreaking innovations and technical achievements, Franck Muller’s key introduction this year, the Vintage Collection, is refreshingly sober. It doesn’t mean that Franck Muller is not going to continue to push boundaries, it just adds something more to a brand that has become complete.
“From a brand standpoint, we have a much greater range now,” says Ron Jackson, president, Franck Muller North America. “We won’t show you a picture of an ancient man and hang our hat on that, our image is not dusty. For such a young company, we have a unique position—most companies that started at the same time aren’t around anymore, or they produce such a small number of watches. “The product from Franck Muller is unique, and the brand is a well-known name, it has products within the brand that are extremely recognisable and admired, and copied,” Jackson continues. “You can see the influence that Franck Muller has had on the industry. You take the character and strength of design and combine that with our industrial capability.”
That industrial capability, located chiefly in Genthod, Switzerland at “Watchland,” is continuously growing. Any visit to Watchland entails dodging construction equipment and watching out for the mud, as new constructions, expansion and renovations are always on-going.
“Franck Muller has one of the strongest manufacturing infrastructures of any independent group,” Jackson adds. “We can come up with ideas for products and go into our resources and make that product with speed and quality that no one can match. Other companies go to suppliers and ask them to produce. You always rely on under-suppliers for certain components, but Franck Muller has the ability to control the quality of key components.”
GIGA TOURBILLON, LADY TOURBILLON AUTOMATIC, VINTAGE
The tag line for Franck Muller is “Master of Complications” and the collection is chock-full of various demanding watchmaking creations. “The complications we have created and are still creating are traditional complications with something special, like the Giga Tourbillon, which has the biggest balance wheel and the highest torque, but then you have the Crazy Hours, which is also a complication but it’s not a traditional complication, it’s an emotional one,” Jackson details. “A lot of times, the features of a highly complicated watch can only be appreciated by the owner, but the emotional complications are something that starts conversations. The Secret Hours, the Crazy Hours, the Vegas where you have the roulette wheel are some examples, then you have the Master Banker, a functional complication. We have the most complicated watch in the world, the Aeternitas Mega, the smallest tourbillon and the biggest tourbillon.”
Where do all these ideas come from?
The fertile mind of Franck Muller.
“For the most part, my ideas come from the world of art,” Muller says. “It is foremost a quest for harmony in each new collection. For me, the functional and the aesthetic sides are inseparable. Both aspects represent my personality—my father is Swiss German from Zurich and my mother is from the South of Italy, where great designers come from. I make watches for my own delight and it is always my next creation which gives me the most pleasure.” The big introductions recently unveiled by Franck Muller in Monaco were the Vintage Collection, a serious timepiece with a vintage inspiration, and the Lady Tourbillon Automatic.
“I like Franck Muller because it’s legitimate, it’s real, it’s concrete,” Jackson says. “The company itself has such merit as a manufacturer and we really need to help the consumers understand this. Franck Muller created such incredible products that the product was accepted without consumers understanding it. That gave the company the possibility to build the infrastructure we have today.” The challenge now is to communicate how complete a company the Franck Muller Group is. The brands within the group include Franck Muller, Pierre Kunz, Cvstos, Backes & Strauss, ECW, Rodolphe, Barthelay, Martin Braun, Pierre Michel Golay and Christian Huygens.
“We have so many strengths as a company but consumers don’t necessarily understand enough about the true qualities of the brand,” Jackson continues. “They know we can make beautiful watches, but they don’t know what’s behind them. The other brands that are in our segment, their message has always been more about tradition, longevity and manufacturing, and our message has really just been product. Now, the consumer wants more than a good looking product, so we can combine the product range with the movement and manufacturing side, and we’re off to the races.”
For Franck Muller, the man, life is good. Tasked with creating new designs and representing the brand around the world, he is having the time of his life. “First of all, I’m wearing the name Franck Muller, so I have to represent it through the watches as well as give inspiration and creativity,” he explains. “I love meeting people who love Franck Muller watches during my trips—they are so passionate about watchmaking. It’s great satisfaction to see how well received the watches are, and it recharges my batteries and encourages me to future creativity.”
For master watchmaker Pierre Kunz, this year’s introduction is the “Clean Sweep” Tourbillon. Housed in a round 45mm case (available in white gold, red gold or steel), this new timepiece features a tourbillon movement with three instantaneous retrograde second hands. The dial comes in black, grey or blue with applied hours and minutes.
“Clean Sweep” refers to the action of winning it all at roulette, so at six o’clock, the tourbillon carriage is decorated like the arms of a roulette wheel. The decoration on the sides of the case is inspired by the roulette table. The “Clean Sweep” Tourbillon will be presented in a limited edition of 38 pieces numbered 00, 0 and 1 – 36.
Source: Europa Star December - January 2012 Magazine Issue