In the ’90s, Franck Muller emerged as the watch world’s enfant terrible. In a world of straitlaced tradition, his weird and wonderful creations were characterised by their boldness. Franck Muller’s Crazy Hours watch, for example, featured a jumble of numbers scattered over the dial in a random order. Bringing (some) sense to the madness, an ingenious mechanical complication then snapped the hour hand from one numeral to the next in order to tell the correct time. That willingness to push the envelope is evident, too, in the new Vanguard Slim Skeleton. The joy of a skeleton movement is that it literally reveals what makes a watch tick, removing the dial to expose the inner mechanics. But while this holds a natural appeal for gear-heads and watch nerds, the enjoyment tends to be more technical than aesthetic. Franck Muller’s new release proves that it’s possible to tick both boxes.
The watch is an inherently elegant proposition due to its basic proportions. The Vanguard case here is downsized to a unisex 37-millimetre diameter (a 41-millimetre case is also available) and whittled to a slinky thickness of just 9.1 millimetres. That slimmer profile required a brand new movement. Designed to echo the soft curves of the case, all the mechanical components have been carefully cut, openworked, hand-polished and refined to allow the wearer to admire the internal architecture.
That’s not to say the exterior of the watch has been neglected. Franck Muller’s signature tonneau-shape case is once again on display in a choice of rose or white gold. In either scenario, the case is then festooned with 422 brilliant-cut diamonds, with more sparklers enlivening the hand set, too. As the saying goes, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. But that doesn’t mean the outside can’t also turn heads.