By Anandhi Gopinath
In 1991, an extraordinarily talented watchmaker named Franck Muller went into business with casing and gem expert Vartan Sirmakes, establishing a partnership that has proven to be both productive and prosperous. Playing up its youthful vigour with a keen eye for haute horlogerie, Franck Muller’s stock-in-trade has been its ability to create industry-defining timepieces that defy convention while pushing the agenda of high-end mechanical watchmaking.
It wasn’t, however, just the complex complications within a watch that Franck Muller showcased a proclivity for, but also its design. Originally presented in 1987 at an international watch exhibition in Italy, the Cintrée Curvex is an evolution of the tonneau shape, and not only became a brand best-seller but also a design signature for Franck Muller. This is the precursor to the more recent Curvex CX, where the sapphire crystal extends all the way to the bracelet, giving much greater visibility to the dial.
This curved case is the ideal home to house Franck Muller’s hugely successful Grand Central Tourbillon – the world’s first tonneau-shaped centre tourbillon watch – and this combination has resulted in what might just be the maison’s most futuristic model to date. Inspired by the sleek aesthetic of supercars, the new Grand Central Tourbillon Flash explores the edgy and vibrant perspectives of an already ground-breaking horological idea.
First, a quick revisit to the magic that moves this watch. The Grand Central Tourbillon is a masterstroke of modern watchmaking that moved this majestic movement from its traditional position at 6 o’clock to the centre of the dial, with the hour and minute hands innovatively placed around the central tourbillon cage. Standing out like a futuristic starship, the Grand Central Tourbillon Flash features a redesigned dial, on which the maison’s distinctive numerals are replaced by bright, vibrantly coloured indices on a microblasted black matte dial, all pointing toward the centre of the timepiece. The tourbillon’s cage bridge also incorporates a striking neon arrow, rotating around the nucleus like an electron, enabling the seconds to be easily read.
The new Grand Central Tourbillon Flash ticks to the tune of a beautifully finished self-winding movement and boasts four days of energy as it powers the passing of the seconds, hours and minutes. The admittedly handsome 60-second tourbillon is suspended by a single bridge – which is also shaped to indicate the seconds – and is elevated above the rest of the dial, ensuring it truly occupies pride of place. The minimalist hour and minute hands extend outward from the central carriage on openwork circles that are also suspended around the spectacular tourbillon.
Integrated into the 36mm case, a neon strap matched to the indices is crafted from nylon with a calf leather underside, allowing for a youthful sporty aesthetic as well as impeccable comfort and durability. The Grand Central Tourbillon Flash in three different vivid colourways: blazing orange, neon green and electric blue.