Admittedly, it’s been a while since I got along with Franck Muller’s staff seriously. The Swiss watchmaker is a modern-day legend, while the Franck Muller Group is a collection of luxury brands that includes Backes & Strauss among others. In the past, the group was larger and included brands such as Rodolphe, Pierre Kunz and Martin Braun. Today, Franck Muller himself and co-founder Vartan Sirmakes continue to manufacture watches at the Swiss “Watchland” headquarters outside Geneva. Today, I’ll take a look at Franck Muller’s difference that represents the modern side of the brand. This watch is the Franck Muller Vanguard Glacier from the newer Vanguard collection.
Founded in 1991, Franck Muller as a brand is known for a few things, including their popular Cintrée Curvex cases, as well as some extremely complicated watches. The brand often likes to call itself a “complication guru.” This timepiece is relatively simple, providing only the time and date, but the design is complex and sophisticated, which I find very appealing.
I’m quick to admit that the Franck Muller Vanguard collection didn’t appeal to me until I saw it in person and wore it on my wrist. In the computer-rendered image, the Pioneer looks both bland and hard at work. In a sense, some might say that about the Franck Muller Cintrée Curvex watch. Wear any of these models on your wrist and you’ll have a completely different experience — at least, I did.
The Franck Muller Cintrée Curvex collection starts with a tonneau case, which is probably one of the few tonneau cases on the market that I like. Others will include those made by Richard Mille. It’s an old design dating back to the 1920s, but Franck Muller has made it hot again. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that Franck Muller was the first “fashionable” watch brand of the modern watch era. Just (in some cases) fall victim to their own success and face the same issues most other luxury brands face today in marketing and distribution. Compared to the others, I think Franck Muller has been quieter, choosing to keep a low profile and remain silent until they have a solid strategy. At least, they have a lot of interesting timepieces.
I don’t recommend understanding what it’s about by reading the Vanguard series on Franck Muller’s website, because that won’t tell you much. In fact, it’s a great example of how this type of writing doesn’t have much to explain but can take up space on a luxury brand’s website. My take on Vanguard is that it’s just a modern take on the design that made Franck Muller such a popular brand in the first place. Say what you think about some people who have worn the brand, or the ostentatiousness that the brand is known for not everyone likes…but essentially, the core of the “Frank Muller look” has been done well , until now, has really been better captured by others when it comes to their classic Cintrée Curvex look.
That being said, consider the Franck Muller Vanguard collection to take a classic Art Deco look and make it feel more modern. This includes the case and dial – which apply Arabic numerals, as well as the painted markers you see on more traditional Franck Muller timepieces. Then you have this case, which is also a Vanguard trunk, flatter and more ergonomic than the Curvex case. It sits nicely on the wrist, and the right choice of colors and materials results in a bold and elegant look without sacrificing style legibility. Note the compass markings on the inner flange ring – I think it’s for style. Better than another tachymeter scale – that’s for sure.
This special edition of the Franck Muller Vanguard is a reference to the V 45 SC DT AC.GL Vanguard Glacier – famous for the special PVD coating treatment on the steel case and the use of a white rubber strap with matching dial trim. Note that this is a rare steel Vanguard watch (due to the special PVD treatment), but most non-gold watches are titanium. The case is steel and measures 44mm wide, 53.70mm high and only 12.8mm thick. The curved Vanguard case is paired with an integrated rubber strap for a comfortable fit. Visually, the look of the strap continues into the case with a clever look that makes the case appear to be sandwiched between the straps. For a higher end look compared to straight rubber,
Design wise, the overall look has a modern “bold” that will appeal to some and repel others. That’s okay, because hardly a watch made by Franck Muller is designed to have universal appeal. For someone who likes to show off, these watches do a great job…if you don’t like showing off that way, their timepieces probably won’t appeal to you. Again, don’t fully judge any of these watches until you put them on your wrist. I was personally pleasantly surprised.
Inside these three-hand Franck Muller Vanguard watches is its FM 0800 automatic movement, which operates at 4Hz (28,800 bph) and has a power reserve of 42 hours. I don’t believe these are in-house movements (Franck Muller confirms these are modified base Swiss ETA movements), but in other Franck Muller watches they certainly have their own movements. Movement provides time and date (displayed at 6 o’clock). There is no exhibition caseback, I think there should be a watch. This makes more sense than writing “Master of Complications” on a watch with a less complicated mechanism. The Franck Muller Vanguard Glacier itself is not a limited edition, but it is an individually numbered watch with a serial number on the case back.
Franck Muller cheap makes no shortage of variations for each of their popular timepieces. In addition to offering a range of Vanguard models (from this three-hand automatic to chronographs, and even some tourbillons), each model appears to be available in a range of versions (most of which aren’t even on the Franck Muller website, by the way) . This culture of “prudent information” is part of the brand’s unique identity, and one of the reasons why Frank Muller underperformed in the information-hungry internet age.
An interesting “shiny bronze” applied PVD treated steel case mixed with a white hue gives the Franck Muller Vanguard Glacier a fun and interesting look, but there are many other versions available. It’s not cheap, but its look is perfect for the Franck Muller brand and the next generation interested in the brand. Then again, this isn’t a brand for conservative types at all, but the range of talent the brand has, along with their many technical accomplishments means that Frank Muller could be a brand to watch again (or a first). https://www.chrono4usale.co