SINGAPORE (Nov 5): The 100 Masterpieces exhibition will showcase a specially curated selection of Franck Muller’s finest timepieces that trace the brand’s 26-year history from its beginnings with watch genius Franck Muller and entrepreneur Vartan Sirmakes. It will be held at Sincere Fine Watches’ Ngee Ann City flagship boutique until Nov 15.

Among those that will be displayed are World Premiere watches such as the Evolution 3-1, which features the world’s first triple-axis tourbillon that is paired with a perpetual calendar; as well as the Giga Tourbillon from 2011, which boasts the biggest tourbillon escapement — twice as large as a regular tourbillon — to be housed in a wristwatch.

Also not to be missed are iconic pieces such as the Master Banker, a multi-time zone watch introduced in 1996; the Cintrée Curvex Imperial Tourbillon, a stunning complication housed in Franck Muller’s signature curved tonneau-shaped case; and the Double Mystery, which uses a system of rotating discs instead of hands to display time.

The exhibition will also feature Franck Muller’s latest timepieces, with a special focus on the Vanguard collection launched in 2015. Among the stellar selection are the Gravity Skeleton models that feature skeletonised movements with tourbillon complications. Highlights include the Vanguard Gravity Skeleton “Red Ergal”, which has a unique carbon case with red stripes achieved by way of a special plate compression process; and the Vanguard Yachting Gravity Skeleton, which flaunts a stunning turbine-shaped tourbillon carriage in electric blue.

What are the stories behind some of these amazing creations? Options had a chance to ask JeanLoup Glénat, head of design at Franck Muller, via email.

You studied architecture and here you are as head of design for timepieces. How did the switch happen?

I grew up in a family that was focused on construction and design, which then fuelled my passion for arts and architecture.

The common path since my childhood has been ‘the imagination’ and finding a job in which I could exploit it.

It was natural for me to direct my studies towards architecture. I quickly discovered product design and the endless possibilities of creation that this field offered. So, I had to change [my] field. A succession of meetings and opportunities then led me to watchmaking.

My passion for this watchmaking universe is where traditions mix with modernity, craftsmanship with industry, mechanics with aesthetics and it keeps growing.

Vanguard Yachting Gravity Skeleton has a stunning turbine-shaped tourbillon carriage in electric blue.

How has your background in architecture helped you in your work, especially in the collections that you oversee, such as the Vanguard Collection?
The design of a timepiece may be [likened] to the architecture of a building.

For example, when we work on projects such as the Vanguard Seven Days Power Reserve Skeleton, our research focuses on the balance between voids and solids, [the interplay] of shadows and lights, surface treatments.

Owing to resistance constraints and the forces exerted by the mechanics, we must also look for the most suitable materials. This rigorous work is done in close collaboration with the engine manufacturers.

Vanguard Gravity Skeleton ‘Red Ergal’ has a unique carbon case with red stripes.

Of these watches — Vanguard Camouflage Tourbillon, Vanguard Skeleton Tourbillon, Vanguard Gravity Skeleton, Vanguard Yachting Gravity, Vanguard Yachting Gravity Skeleton, Crazy Hours 15th Anniversary Asia Exclusive and Long Island Four Seasons — what would you say is the most challenging to do and why?

The biggest challenges are skeleton pieces such as Vanguard Skeleton Tourbillon. Indeed, as soon as we remove our famous emblematic numbers, we strive to find continuity and strength in the expression of the design, especially with the bridges that must have a strong Franck Muller identity.

The other difficulty is, although this is what will enrich and beautify the timepiece, we must ensure that it does not get lost in the details and keeps a global vision. The timepiece must be easily identifiable and faithful to the spirit of the brand.

Double Mystery uses a system of rotating discs instead of hands to display time.

If you had to choose, which one of the above would be your favourite piece?

I would choose the Vanguard Yachting Gravity, for its balance between elegance and technicality. This timepiece is a combination of the successful Yachting collection and the iconic Gravity Tourbillon. The magic between the two was immediately formed.

What is your approach to creating a piece? Can you take us through the steps from sketch to finished product?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a miracle recipe in the creation of a timepiece. It is a succession of complex steps, twists, invention and questioning. What I like is that each project has its origin and its own history. This story is written with the involvement of many stakeholders, from designers to engineers, sometimes by customers too.

Evolution 3-1 features the world’s first triple-axis tourbillon that is paired with a perpetual calendar.

What or who inspired you?

I am curious, and I love to observe. I do not have borders in my sources of inspiration. I like beautiful mechanics and, especially, motorcycles, which influence me a lot.

Keen watch enthusiasts are familiar with Vartan Sirmakes. Can you tell us what valuable advice he has given you?

Vartan Sirmakes is an aesthete.

He is very involved in the creation of future collections. Working with him daily has taught me a lot about project management and product strategy. We have a very close vision of the future of the brand.

Can you tell us about the Sincere Fine Watch ‘100 Masterpieces’ exhibition and what to expect? 

Readers can discover 100 ways to experience horological magic in its purest form, as practised by the Master of Complications. They will be able to view historically important offerings of World Premieres, as well as the latest from a stellar collection, and witness a full representation of top-level independent watchmaking.

At Franck Muller, we don’t believe in just making exceptional watches; we believe in crafting art and poetry of the highest order. We believe in celebrating beauty and making magic.