This is certainly not a watch I ever thought I’d have, but I must say I was pleasantly surprised by it. The reason being that in recent times Franck Muller watches have become a shell of what they used to be, with the eponymous founder losing control of his company, suffering the same fate as many other pioneering independent watchmakers of the 90’s era.
Founded in 1991 as the self-titled “Master of Complications” by the eponymous watchmaker and his friend, Franck Muller was the superstar of the watch world, who became known for his rather distinctive looking, and sometimes wacky designs. With iconic designs such as his exploding numerals and tonneau cases, he was immediately a celebrity favorite and despite the opinion of the brand today, he was vital in reinvigorating an aging and dying watch industry.
Putting his fame and fortune aside, Franck Muller was a hugely talented watchmaker which culminated with his role at Patek Philippe restoring historical pieces from the brand’s museum. The
While the brand’s crazy-looking pieces certainly seem to dominate the public perception of Franck Muller, they don’t paint the whole picture. What you see here today is one of the earliest Franck Muller models produced- the Sport Limited Edition.
Limited to just 50 pieces when it was released, this rare watch is numbered 3 of 50 and features a much more classical 37mm round case design. In photos, it might look like a standard chronograph, but I was hugely surprised when I handled this watch in person. It is hugely reminiscent of vintage chronographs from the ’40s and ’50s with its stainless steel stepped case and long lugs. The pump pushers and screw-down case back further emphasize this and I am quite sure that this watch was inspired by Franck’s time at Patek Philippe. On top of this, the glossy black dial with its silver printed multi-scale chapter ring and Breguet numerals remind me of the gilt dials of the 20 century.
This monochromatic piece is gorgeously understated, quite the contrast to what modern Franck Muller pieces are like, and sits amazingly well on the wrist. With 50 pieces only made, they do not turn up very often and in line with the recent resurgence of high-quality watches from the ’90s, collectors are finally realizing this gem of a watch hidden in the portfolio of Franck Muller.