I’m completely overwhelmed by the massive watch that I just put on my wrist. I can easily see the brand DNA, but this “very different” type of Franck Muller watch is extremely nonchalant with its less than characteristic looks. Some might call the design “crazy,” while other will quickly call the tastefulness of the design into question. A polarizing design for the chronograph and tourbillon version of this watch is to be expected, and is certainly part of Franck Muller’s way of doing business.
Franck Muller watches gained respect for being a bit odd. The archetype Franck Muller watch has a barrel shaped (tonneau) case, and squiggly numerals that look like something from a cartoon king’s business card. Elegant isn’t a term used to describe many of the brands timepieces, which is a positive thing when you are trying to get attention. Think classy extravagance, and you’ve come closer to what most Franck Muller customers are looking for.
The new Conquistador Grand Prix collection is part of Franck Muller’s eye on sports — specifically at the Formula One series in Singapore. Race fans tend to appreciate technology, and the wealthier among them enjoy complimenting that appreciation with technically interesting watches. Those looking for mechanical enjoyment and visual boldness won’t be able to resist a close look at these Conquistador Grand Prix timepieces. Franck Muller does an excellent job making a mechanical movement feel special. Gorgeous in design and finishing, the manually wound tourbillon movement in this specific model is all about being admired. The caseback of the watch is covered with a sapphire crystal for an additional view of the mechanics in action. Functions of the tourbillon model include just the time and subsidiary seconds (as displayed by the tourbillon carriage).
As I mentioned, the watch is quite massive. 48mm wide and almost 63mm tall make for a wrist dwarfing appearance that will only look appropriate on the burliest of forearms. Though the graceful curvature of the 18k rose gold and black titanium case makes it quite comfortable. Another version of the watch is available in black titanium and red colored Ergal (which is a type of aluminum alloy). The bezel style hearkens to diving watches, though does not rotate on this shaped case. Below that on the flange ring you’ll find compass indication points — another homage to activity watches, that here is more or less ‘vestigial.’ Franck Muller modifies its signature Arabic numerals a bit for these Conquistador watches making them sportier. The incredibly textured pattern on the dial is lovely, and helps keep the sport stay in the luxury domain. A unique feature for the watch is the “double crown.” The crown on the right of the watch is the functional crown used for adjusting and winding the movement, while the one of the left is cosmetic and used to balance out the look of the design — which it does remarkably well actually.
A unique child in the Franck Muller family, the Conquistador Grand Prix collection is a fascinating experiment in the brand’s future attention to sports. It holds true to the brand’s philosophy of unconventional luxury looks – here applied to the world of motor sports. The watch is attached to a black reptile strap with stitching that matches the gold or Ergal part of case. Price for the Conquistador Grand Prix Tourbillon in 18-karat rose gold is $116,200. www.franckmullerusa.com.