Our TimesTicking write-ups have covered everything from Grecian sundials to Bitcoin watches—ancient obelisks to modern cinema. Undoubtedly, timekeeping is an ancient human tradition that goes back as far as recorded history. Every piece that’s released, big or small, digitally capable or not, is part of the collective works of human civilization. With so many ancient influences and established names in watchmaking, it can be easy to overlook newer watchmakers and their influence on watch engineering. Herein rests our subject: Franck Muller. Muller is a relatively young and new watchmaker in terms of the timepiece scene. He’s a baby-boomer aged man, born in 1958, who went through the rigors of a Swiss watchmaking education. Learning from some of the best minds in Europe, his abilities as a watchmaker have been honed into his own unique crafts. His work is so fine tuned, it frequently wears the prestigious “Geneve” mark of excellence. So today we’re going to take a moment to highlight both Muller (the man) and his self-titled brand of watchmaking.
How It Started
As we previously mentioned, Franck Muller was born in 1958. Muller’s father is a Swiss-born man and his mother is Italian. He spent his earliest years in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland—but would move out of his home town at age fifteen to pursue watchmaking. Studying at Ecole d’Horlogerie de Genève (aka The Geneva School) into his twenties, Muller eventually graduated and went right to work in the field of watchmaking. Some of his most notable ventures in this regard were rebuilding Swiss watches and eventually being an official handler of Patek Philippe watches. With the skills he’d acquired from his schooling in Geneva, and his real-world work with watch complications, he began designing his own tourbillon movements. It was in the 1980s that he assembled a tourbillon movement comparable to Vacheron Constantin, Patek Philippe, and other Swiss maisons. At a time when the Swiss were hurting from the quartz revolution—Muller’s career was pushing forward.
After making strides in building his own original movements, Muller teamed up with Armenian-born case designer Vartan Sirmakes in 1991 to form Franck Muller Watchland SA. Under this company name the official Franck Muller brand was born. Sirmakes, like Muller, had previously worked with big Swiss maisons. However, his trade entails designing watch cases. His work had included case design and diamond setting for Cartier (before Richemont took them over) and Daniel Roth. Both Muller and Sirmakes coming together under the Franck Muller brand has brought fresh concepts into the world of luxury watchmaking.
Forward Movement and the Aeternitas Mega 4
From 1991 on, Muller and Sirmakes pushed to release a unique wrist watch every year. So far their efforts have been incredibly successful. A particular hallmark of the Franck Muller brand—all uniqueness accounted for—is the curved case design on their timepieces. In 2008, Sirmakes’ efforts in case design were given a prestigious award by the Geneva Chamber of Commerce. Concerning his designs, a particular favorite we’ve covered is the Vanguard series design. Sporting a curved case and crystal, they’re a sporty set of watches—which recently employed a standout piece in 2019. Indeed, the Franck Muller brand’s most recent Vanguard release can be loaded with virtual (Bitcoin) currency. It also entails one of their best in-house movements to date.
A big historical wave was made with a major release that dropped nearly 20 years after the company began. In 2010 Franck Muller released their record breaking Aeternitas Mega 4 (AM4). After 10 years it still holds the record for most complications in a wristwatch (coming in at 36 complications). Although AM4 boasts 36 complications, it has 23 indications. Any kind of complication—function beyond just telling the time—is a microengineering feat. For Franck Muller to set this new bar, it took an incredibly masterful mind and hand.
To the Future
With Franck Muller watches being released yearly, every new model is worth buzzing about. As we all move into 2020 it’ll be wonderful to see what kind of complications and case designs will come from both the man and the brand. Sure as the sun rises in the east, we’ll be on top of any new releases. Keep your eyes peeled for specific models from Franck Muller, and other brands, as we here at TimesTicking continue to pick apart future timepieces. We’ll do our best to keep you apprised, and fill you in on existing knowledge in horology. What’s more, the history of watchmaking is always injected into the spirit of our posts. Whether it’s the most complicated wristwatch in the world or the first sundial, we’ll do our best to cover all subjects.
Times Ticking has been in operation for more than 30 years, since 1982. We have performed watch repair for customers both locally and internationally. If it Ticks! We KNOW it! Our team of watch repair technicians have a combined experience in watchmaking of over 120 years.