Visitors to the October edition of the Franck Muller group’s World Presentation of Haute Horlogerie (WPHH) held in Monaco might have been mildly disappointed when they arrived at Watchland in Geneva for the January show that runs parallel to SIHH. The reason for this is simple: during the October press conference the company made a light reference to a new high-speed tourbillon currently being worked on in relative secrecy at Watchland. It was intimated that it might be ready by the January show, but alas it was not.
What visitors did get to see was a semi-permanent new exhibition space set up inside Watchland dedicated entirely to the Giga Tourbillon. Spread over 120 square meters, the room with its many showcases and panels offered a grand view of this many-faceted timepiece, which Franck Muller claims is the largest tourbillon in the world.
Presented for the first time in 2011, the tourbillon measures a vast 20 mm in diameter and literally takes up half the space of the manually wound 40.5 mm caliber. The other half is largely dominated by four spring barrels, which operate serially in pairs.
The Giga’s exhibition area showed the wide variety of skills that the group is capable of by exhibiting a number of variations of this talking piece-tourbillon: gem-set, skeletonized, blackened—you name it, it was there.
By far the most breathtaking variation, however, was the one that represented the WPHH 2012’s main launch: the Giga Tourbillon in a round 49 mm 18-karat white gold case without dial. It is utterly amazing how simply changing the case shape from the signature Cintrée Curvex to the ubiquitous round case changes the perception of this imposing, filigreed piece of mechanics. Our ability to see every single component inside the airy Giga makes it look absolutely majestic.
Retrograde specialist Pierre Kunz’s main launch is called Clean Sweep. Named for the expression used when a player or athlete wins it all, this manually wound 45 mm tourbillon timepiece is outfitted with triple retrograde seconds via three small hands. They provide fascinating entertainment for the wearer every twenty seconds as they “sweep” the dial. The timepiece, which gets some of its inspiration from a roulette table, comes in a limited edition of thirty-eight pieces, the numbering of which begins with 00 and 0 in homage to the numbers found on an American roulette wheel. It comes in gold and stainless steel.
Backes & Strauss introduces a masterpiece in feminine jeweled horology. The Victoria Blue Heart strikes a nerve with every female who sees it thanks to its dainty design, which is certainly destined to become an evergreen classic. Crafted in 18-karat white gold or rose gold and hand set with white ideal-cut and natural fancy-colored diamonds surrounding a simple mother-of-pearl dial showing only hours and minutes, this delicate 18 mm quartz timepiece is more jewelry than watch. However, it is hard for even the die-hard mechanical enthusiast to resist it. The twenty-four matching diamonds set into heartshaped buckle of the satin strap provide an exquisite detail.
Custos introduced a lightweight timepiece that remains true to the striking visuals the brand is known for. The Jetliner’s Challenge-style case and clasp, available in titanium, stainless steel or red gold, have been hollowed out to make it lighter. The automatic movement powering the time and date has also been skeletonized for the same reason.
The objective of the deal is to develop Swiss-made watches for women and men using the Roberto Cavalli by Franck Muller brand name, which will “unite the style and distinctive symbols of the Florentine fashion group with the craftsman technique and the precision engineering that has always distinguished the Franck Muller Group,” according to the firm.
The collection will likely feature watches that range from about $1,600 to about $8,000.
“Roberto Cavalli is a genuine artist whose source of inspiration comes from his passion for life,” said Franck Muller, co-founder of the Franck Muller Group. “His love for fashion combined with his dynamic personality, results in the perfection of his sexy creations. To evoke a deep sensuality throughout his collections, he uses the women’s silhouette as his canvas to reveal true femininity and glamour.”