It is, before anything, the world’s first central tourbillon complication housed in a tonneau-shaped case.
Until Franck Muller came along, the tourbillon was exclusively found on the back of the watch. This goes back to watchmaking tradition where the back of the watch was actually the front of the movement, which is also the side that the watchmaker would look at first. As a master watchmaker, Muller understood the mechanical complexity of a tourbillon, but he also found its elegant motion mesmerising and poetic, and he wanted everybody to be able to see that, not just the watchmaker. So he reconstructed a movement from ground up that allows the tourbillon to be seen from the dial side, and the rest of course is history.
This unwavering appreciation of the tourbillon continues in many of the manufacture’s contemporary creations today but the new Franck Muller Grand Central Tourbillon might be its most passionate love letter to this dazzling mechanical complication yet. Putting the tourbillon not just on dial side but right smack in the centre of the watch, Franck Muller’s unspoken message is crystal clear: this tourbillon is made to be admired.
Accordingly, the Grand Central Tourbillon’s complete architecture was designed to give you the best possible view of the tourbillon from all angles. Suspended by a single bridge at the bottom, it is also elevated above the rest of the dial so it sits slightly higher and closer to the crystal than everything else. This is not only a tribute to some of Franck Muller’s most complicated inventions – such as the Revolution series where the tourbillon regulator rises upwards towards the crystal – but shows ingenious use of the iconic Cintrée Curvex design as well.
Rotating with the poise of a ballerina, the tourbillon utilises its carriage as the seconds indication. This is also the component that drives the time display. Here, you can see how the manufacture does away with conventional hour and minute hands, using instead, rotating discs (one for the hours and another for the minutes) stacked in rings encircling the tourbillon aperture.
A ground-up new innovation created by Franck Muller’s in-house engineers, this tonneau-shaped movement took one full year to bring to fruition. One year might not sound like a lot when it comes to technical innovation, but that’s precisely the point. Considering the wealth of high complication know-how accumulated over the years at Watchland, such a unique invention would have taken lesser maisons much longer to produce.
Moreover, the Grand Central Tourbillon runs on a self-winding movement which is extremely rare in the Franck Muller tourbillon collection. Turn the watch over to see the lovely sunray-brushed eccentric micro-rotor responsible for keeping the watch powered for four full days.
Hands down, Franck Muller’s most recognisable creation, the Cintrée Curvex is known for its unique curved crystal profile that’s cambered on two axes. Taking full advantage of the incredible panoramic view of the dial this offers, the timepiece offers exceptional lateral views of the dial, although this exceptional aesthetic got even more breath-taking in the Grand Central Tourbillon thanks to a subtle but no less significant redesign.
The curved sapphire crystal now extends past the bezel, stretching all the way to the lugs, creating a seamless flow that elongates the watch as it exudes modern refinement. This is made possible thanks to a new technique of fixing the glass at 12 and 6 o’clock. Meanwhile, Cintrée Curvex’s excellent ergonomics remain, making it a comfortable fit to all wrists.
Another big update is the introduction of a separate component for the bezel which allows for beautiful two-tone treatments as seen in but definitely not limited to the rose gold Grand Central Tourbillons.
Indeed the Grand Central Tourbillon is packed to the brim with fine details waiting to be discovered. To do its redesigned sapphire crystal justice, the dial also curves along with the case, tapering off the edges while keeping the movement’s integrity intact. Even its Crazy Hours-style applique numerals have been purposefully designed to follow the angles of the dial without distortion.
Then there’s that brilliant new guilloché design applied all over the dial. At first glance it appears to be a classic Clous de Paris pattern, but upon closer inspection, you’ll notice an elegant spiral effect that evokes the whirlwind rotation of the central tourbillon – as if each of the tiny guillochéd clous are moving in perfect tandem with the tourbillon.
Executed with remarkable depth and detail, this painstakingly calculated guilloché pattern by the Franck Muller design department is yet another example of how the manufacture is constantly able to put a bold modern spin on the time-honoured classics – and to do it with flair and authenticity.