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Watchland’s Vanguard

Franck Muller adds new complications and styles to Vanguard, the tonneau-cased collection that features a slightly broader Cintreé Curvex tonneau case.

Bordering the west coast of Lake Geneva and just a short drive from downtown Geneva you’ll find the sleepy little village of Genthod. Taking a left as you parallel the west shore of the lake, you curl past a roundabout onto a road that gently rises into the village proper.

Franck Muller's Watchland houses a remarkable array of watchmaking capabilities and in-house technical prowess.

As you wind past the Ecole Genthod you find yourself on a road so narrow that you actually need to pull over to let oncoming traffic pass. Continuing on route Malagny, you pass through a quaint community of typical Swiss-style domiciles interspersed with open fields bordered by old-growth forests.

Franck Muller's Vanguard World Timer GMT stands out with the world time zones indexed in 24 emblematic locations on the globe.

It is in this idyllic setting that the Franck Muller brand has created the amazing campus called Watchland. Hidden behind a perfectly trimmed hedgerow, the chalet architecture of the main building rises above the greenery to hint at the scope of the demesne beyond.

Technical prowess

Within the ever-expanding Franck Muller complex, you’ll find a remarkable array of watchmaking capabilities and in-house technical prowess. Having toured my fair share of watch making manufactures over the past couple of decades, I can honestly say that any connoisseur would be amazed by what Franck Muller has created in such a relatively short time.

Franck Muller's early tag line,“Master of Complications,” is appropriate here as it has composed an incredibly complicated movement that combines the minute repeater and a tourbillon escapement.

Watchland is a must see for any watch enthusiast touring the Geneva area. While the exterior of the various buildings on the campus evoke the feeling of a Swiss mountain chateau, within the walls are artisans, engineers and master watchmakers that meld old world skills with cutting-edge machinery to create a panoply of amazing timepieces – almost wholly developed and manufactured in-house.

Like previous Master Bankers, the Vanguard edition features triple time zone functionality from a mechanism designed and manufactured entirely in-house. Easy to use, each of the three time zones on the open dial can be adjusted via the same crown.

Since its inception Franck Muller has always melded tradition with innovation. Even when first entering the market, the brand combined classical mechanical watchmaking with a less-traveled design path, primarily with the shapely case of the iconic Cintree’ Curvex collection. In an industry where more than ninety percent of the watches are crafted in the round, the elongated and elegant curves of the Cintree’ Curvex were an unusual focus for any brand, especially a new one.

The Curvex

Franck Muller created a tonneau shape that has found more than a few imitators over the years. And although many have tried to emulate the type, there is no doubt that the Franck Muller brand is today this shape’s standard-bearer. So much so that any tonneau watch might easily be mistaken as a Franck Muller from across the room.

The Skafander is an unusual diving timepiece presented for the first time in the tonneau shape.

Adding a twist to the original lines of the Cintreé Curvex case, the newer Vanguard series is a tonneau collection, like its predecessor, but compressed vertically with a bit more girth on the “hips”. The tripartite case also allows for a contrast between the top and bottom to create a more casual and sporty timepiece.

Vanguard’s softer side shows a new feminine interpretation.

The Vanguard Heart Skeleton combines a playful design with the heart-inspired dial.

A total of seven Franck Muller Vanguard families capture the essence of the functionality-based movements within, but also capture the design ethos without. From playful to sporty, casual to technical, Vanguard’s shape lends itself well to each variation and once again highlights the fecundity of the manufacture.

Vanguard Yachting Gravity Skeleton embodies a 21.2mm elliptical tourbillon cage within the skeletal framework of the manual wind movement.

The Vanguard S6 Yachting features all the seafaring details from the deep blue colors to the compass rose on the dial and the anchor-inspired bridges. This Vanguard is available in rose gold, stainless steel and bronze.

Vanguard prices range from $6,800 for the simplest edition up to the rarified air of $340,000 for the tourbillon with minute repeater.

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