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A visit to WPHH, impression of Franck Muller's 2003 products (Many photos)
April 23 2003 at 10:23 AM
  (Login TJN)
from IP address 165.21.154.10

In this year fairs, the buzz was definitely the Franck Muller Revolution 2. Most of the industry
people I met asked if I have seen the watch and wanted my opinions. but my appointment with
Franck was on the 8th April 2003 and you can imagine my impulse when I arrived Watchland on
that day. I literally ran from the WPHH limousine into the reception the second I arrived.


(The Franck Muller Revolution 2, the first Dual Axis Tourbillon wristwatch)

Franck Muller looks his usual happy self. I sense that he is happier and more excited than usual.
If memory serves me right, he also seems younger than when I last met him a few months ago.


(Franck Muller with Crazy Hours and Revolution 2)

Franck is undoubtedly the most successful watchmaker and his rapid success in a mere decade
should be an important chapter in Marketing text-books. I suspect that one cannot wish for a
better case study in marketing!


(Watchland)

The huge watchland was built in the middle of a posh residential area in Genthod, overseeing
the beautiul Geneva lake. It has been developed from a single old building to at least 5 separate
structures now. The Building Permit for further expansion of Watchland to a grander scale has
been stalled for a couple of years by city of Geneva beaureaucrats.


(Another view of Watchland)

The Mayor of Genthod complained that the City of Geneva does not understand the competitive
nature of the Watch industry, and has been instrumental in the delay and hence denying
employment gain and impair business flexibility in the Genthod area.



(Mayor of Genthod)

Franck is an extremely creative and gifted watchmaker. However, his use of 3rd party
movements (a common practice in this industry) in most of his watches has always been a
favourite subject of ridicules and attacks in some online discussion forums.


(Franck's Mother and sister)

Personally, I find him refreshing. In an industry where we need to chose between
conglomerates who know everything about the business and watchmakers who know nothing
about commercial reality, Franck provides the perfect balance to both.


(Photo of Jaw wearing Revolution 2, my artistic director recommends cropping to improve the
aesthetic)


Assembly is done in Watchland and in a secret factory just outside of Geneva. this factory has
been making and supplying cases, dials, hands, buckles, crown, bracelets and many movement
parts to many TOP (and I do mean TOP) Swiss Brands. I find it hard to believe and somewhat
hypocritical that, the toughest Franck critics frequently buy parts from the factory.


(Ray Charles performed to thunderous applause)

Frank proved that he does not need to fabricate a history or buy expensive brands for revival to
be successful. He is probably the only brand that penetrated most market segments, be it
fashion, ladies, gents and dress watches or complicated pieces.


(The Revolution 2 Dual Axis Tourbillon)

Franck was his flamboyant self as he introduced the first patented and registered Cintree
Curvex cut diamond this year. The cut is certified by established gemologists to be the most
brilliant cut in the industry (more brilliant than the brilliant cut). While a solitaire can comes
from any jeweller, EVERY single piece of curvex diamond is a Franck!.



(The first patented diamond curvex cut, every curvex diamond is a franck!)

Dismissing the possibility of being labelled JUST a jewelry brand, Franck told me that he is not
least bothered by his critics. Indeed he has too much energy to be just a watchmaker. He
needs to be a business man, a jeweller, and to enjoy life to the maximum. Watching the
behaviours of some of his fans in his annual parties held around the world, he has become an
idol to all who enjoys life.

He re-iterated that he forces no one to buy his watches and claimed that established traditional
houses have nothing to teach creative independent watchmakers (he named several good ones
off the record). Big groups try to define what is haute horology to their advantages and the
industry laps it up without thinking.


(The Revolution 2 sapphire Case-back view, exquisite movement!)

History can be fabricated, but movement polishing? All watchmaking students learn that in the
first year! As if to prove a point, the Revolution 2 Tourbillon movement is probably the best
finished in-house movement excluding those of Philippe Dufour watches.

In a world where there are too many brands, watches should be innovative. Franck lamented
that all the innovations in the past years have been done by independent watchmakers and
smaller companies and none from the big traditional brands.

This year, Franck's creativity is once again flaunted in his Cintree Curvex & Long Island "Crazy
Hours", where the hours indicators are all jumbled up. The minute hand moves normally
indicating the normal position, with the hour hand JUMPS from 1 to 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
& to 12, each time jumping for 5 hours markers, thus indicating the right hour number but in an
unconventional position... This is thinking-out-of-the-box at its best.


(The Franck Crazy Hour, Thinking-out-of-the-box at its best)

The Dual Axis Tourbillon was done in a clock by Anthony Randall, and recently in a huge pocket
watch by Thomas Prescher. Franck is the first to do it in a wristwatch for Revolution 2, with
the tourbillon cage turning at one revolution a minute and the whole carriage one revolution in
8 minutes. Franck explained that he found it mathematically possible to do 3 different rates,
but chose 8 minutes a revolution for aesthetic reasons so that the turn is slow enough to be
appreciated visually. The number 8 also implies prosperity in the Chinese society. With
retrograde 60 seconds counter at 7 o'clock and retrograde 8-minute carriage counter at
5 o'clock, this cintree curves watch is definitely wearable, whether for a guy with small wrists
or a lady!


(Susanna Kang, Super model and Brand Manager of Sincere Watch Limited, wearing the
Revolution 2)


On his family life, I noticed from small gestures that Franck is very close with his family, and in
more than one occassions, I have seen them together and Franck is very dear to his Mother,
brother and sister.



(Franck's brother)

At night, the Gala dinner featured Ray Charles for his excellent performance and as I left
Watchland on that night, I saw a huge image of a Cintree Curvex watch being projected over
Watchland. I have no doubt then Cintree Curvex watches will finally be the fashion icons of this
decade 20 years later.


(Ray Charles performance, blurred due to slow shutter speed to cope with the relative
darkness)

After his annual World Calibres, Franck started his REVOLUTION last year. I eagerly awaited for
his Revolution 3, hopefully in a year!

Jaw




 
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