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Still crazy after all these years
THE name "Franck Muller" brings to mind watches with tonneau-shaped cases. Yet while the four-cornered barrel-shaped cases of Franck Muller timepieces are more distinctive, thanks to their complicated curves, they are not unique. Also, not all Franck Muller watches come in tonneau-shaped cases; some models feature the conventional round case.
The Swiss watch brand would prefer to be recognised as the "Master of Complication" - and, indeed, to many of its fans, the "Franck Muller" name is virtually synonymous with the Crazy Hours, Franck Muller's most iconoclastic complicated timepiece.
In the Crazy Hours watch, the hour numerals are not displayed in order. After every 60 minutes, the hour hand jumps to the next correct number, often snapping almost halfway across the dial to do so. The minute hand follows the traditional 60-minute cycle revolving around the dial.
The idea for the Crazy Hours came to the brand's founder Franck Muller while he was vacationing in Mauritius. A jumping hour module and an automatic movement are at the heart of the complication. Though the hour numerals appear to be randomly placed, there is a sequence to the "crazy" hours - each subsequent number is placed at an approximately 150-degree arc away from the preceding number.
The Crazy Hours was rolled out in 2003. Fifteen years later, it continues to fascinate. To mark the Crazy Hours' 15th birthday this year, Franck Muller is offering in Asia 40 variations of the timepiece in green, red, blue and black tones and matching leather straps. The anniversary watch also comes in stainless steel, steel with diamonds, rose gold and rose gold with diamonds and in three sizes for gents and ladies - 39.6x55.4mm, 36x50.4mm and 32.1x45.1mm.
The first protective full-pressure suit created in the 1930s, the Skafander remains essential for deep-sea exploration. Though it has over the years evolved from a dive suit to a space suit, the Skafander's intrinsic function is still to ensure ease of operation while keeping the diver alive and confident.
Just as the Skafander has evolved and eliminated the bothersome need to bite down on a mouth-piece with goggles strapped tightly over your head, the Franck Muller Skafander has been bestowed with a tonneau-shaped case as well as an innovative solution to adjust the dive dial. This is a refreshing departure from round dive watches - and the ingenious new pusher system to advance the inner bezel is a first of its kind.
The Vanguard S6 Yachting is yet another example of Franck Muller's reputation for creating pre-eminent horological masterpieces. Also, it's another nod to the brand's expanding universe of the yachting series, which has been proven to be among the best-sellers in Franck Muller's Vanguard collection - its youngest pillar line.
A standout feature of the new timepiece is its highly-skeletonised dial, which is delectably decorated with rose gold-accented hemispheres from the mainspring barrel bridge and seconds sub dial.
The bridges supporting the mainspring barrel and sub-seconds portion are a network of three-dimensional blue beams and pillars. On closer examination, it's shaped like an anchor - in line with the watch's nautical theme.
The main attraction of the Vanguard Lady Gravity is, ironically, something traditionally masculine: the tourbillon. But Franck Muller has given it a feminine touch by making the tourbillon cage look delicate. Yet it is no fragile folly - the tourbillon's vivacious heart beats at a lowered frequency of 21,600 vibrations per hour, giving the timepiece better resistance to prolonged shocks.
The dial is a half-open work. Looking into the glass window is like peering in through a crystal ball into a futuristic world of mechanical intricacies.
Its exposed organs are satin-brushed and supremely hand-finished - and they are perfectly complimented by an arc of signature Franck Muller Arabic numerals.