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The Man Behind The World’s Most Complicated Watches

Categories Watches

Men’s Style meets Franck Muller, the watchmaker known as ‘the master of complications’. 

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Franck Muller (centre)

 

In Australia last year to officially launch his new boutique in Sydney’s King Street, Swiss watchmaker Franck Muller – famed for his highly complicated mechanical watches and his regular “World Premieres” of these pieces, sat down with Men’s Style to discuss his working process and his “art”.

Where do you start when making a new watch? Where do you look for ideas and inspiration?
I look at art because in the beginning I came from an art background. Be it a painting or sculpture, I see art as a fusion between the past and the contemporary. And you can see that mix in my watches.

You’re well known for your “World Premieres” of very complicated pieces but don’t they create a lot of pressure to top each one?
Yes, but I like this type of pressure. It’s important to challenge yourself… to know you’re alive.
I became famous for making a watch that is a world premiere  and it was my challenge and still
is my challenge that I extend my way of expression this way.

When you started did you think your brand would become internationally known, with two boutiques in Australia, for example?
No, I just one put one foot in front of the other. My expectation at first was just to face the challenge of making complicated watches but at a certain point, I’m an egoist and I wanted to do it for myself to enjoy with people and collectors.

Is there a limit to the innovation possible in a traditional mechanical timepiece?
There is no limit to innovation. There is the idea, the inspiration, and then the solution. I made the most complicated watch in the world (the Aeternitas Mega 4) in which a tourbillon is just one of the complications. There’s no limit. The challenge is to find the solution, and that’s why I’m there.

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Franck Muller Aeternitas Mega 4
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The incredible inner workings of the Franck Muller Aeternitas Mega 4

What do you make of smart watches?
For me, it’s not a watch. We say ‘watch’ because it’s on the wrist. In the 21st Century, you don’t need a watch, time is everywhere. So when you buy a Franck Muller watch, for example, you buy more than just the time. The computer watch – today it’s on the wrist, tomorrow in your body – it’s the future, yes, its evolution. It’s not a competition… they are two different worlds.

Are you competitive with other high-end watch brands like Richard Mille?
Richard Mille is a designer. He’s a nice man but he’s not a competitor. I am only in competition with the complication!

Franck Muller Boutique,
147 King St, Sydney.