The Franck Muller Cintrée Curvex is a signature of the maison since 1991. The first watch designed by Franck Muller Grand Central Tourbillon the watchmaker was a tourbillon in 1983/4, and with this latest introduction, the maison reintroduces its original avant garde flair in an all new grand central tourbillon.
The Franck Muller Grand Central Tourbillon is the world’s first centre tourbillon in a tonneau-shaped case. The result of over a year of industrious research and development: the tourbillon moves from the traditional 6 o’clock position into the centre of the dial. The Grand Central Tourbillon’s hour and minute hands are placed around the central tourbillon cage, drawing attention to the complexity of the movement within.
The tourbillon itself is suspended by a single bridge—which is also shaped to indicate the seconds—and is elevated above the rest of the dial.
While conventionally, a standard minute tourbillon has a cage directly driven by the third wheel, which in turn is driven by the second wheel. As the second wheel’s usual location is right in the middle of the movement, having to place the carriage’s pivot in the center presented a specific challenge.
The tourbillon rotates in its carriage with a single triangular shaped arm which acts as the seconds hand. The Franck Muller Grand Central Tourbillon is also raised from the curved dial. Inspired by the Clous de Paris pattern, the Grand Central Tourbillon’s dial features a new guilloché with a spiral effect that accentuates the rotational movement of the centre tourbillon.
The instantly recognisable Cintrée Curvex case has long been synonymous with Franck Muller Grand Central Tourbillon for nearly three decades and remains an icon to this day. Available in a variety of metals from titanium to white gold, the case measures 40.16 mm in width, 58.70 mm in length and 16.63 mm in thickness.
The galvanised brass guilloché dial is painstakingly coated with 20 layers of translucent lacquer, topped off by Franck Muller’s signature oversized art deco indices, carefully applied by hand.
The watch wears large, housing the massive complication and providing enough depth for the curved sapphire crystal. Considering how the glass is angled, it may take some getting used to the reflectiveness and distortion of view from certain angles for those new to the curvex design.
The watch uses the MVT FM CX 40T-CTR movement which beats at a low 18000 vph and has 4 days power reserve. The movement is self winding, achieved using a micro rotor layout which also gives a viewer a better view of the well decorated plates and bridges of the movement.
While there is no doubt the central tourbillon is a complication in its own right, the complication to relocate it to the center yields little benefit from a time telling technical perspective. Then again, the whole spiel of a more accurate time keeping using a tourbillon is controversial as well. Ultimately, a tourbillon timepiece is an aesthetic pursuit and that should limit the scope of one’s judgement of this timepiece.
Overall, the watch bears hallmarks of a well made, hand finished haute horologerie timepiece, with an eye capturing central tourbillon floating above the dial. It’s undoubtedly a love it or hate it watch, considering the case shape and loud size, which makes it hard for anyone to sit on the fence about it. Other central tourbillons available today are the De Ville Master Chronometer Tourbillon by Omega and Beat Haldimann’s H1 Flying Central Tourbillon introduced in 2002. Beat claimed his was the first flying central tourbillon which hovered over the dial.
Being the first seems to be an important thing for many brands, and for Franck Muller, it also claims to be the first with the specific combination of a central tourbillon in a tonneau shaped case, and we believe this is a true statement.