The art of skeletonization is often recognized as the highest form of movement decoration, and for good reason. Literally taking the edges off all the plates and bridges, as well as major components, skeletonization reduces a movement to such a bare minimum that its functionality often teeters in the balance. Extreme skeletonization demonstrates a watchmaker’s bravado – how much material can be removed before the movement loses its stability?
But there’s no room for trepidation here because every component cut and every hollow bored must be done with surgical precision in order to preserve optimum timekeeping performance yet achieve maximum skeletonization. As a matter of fact, this task is so complex that the end result is often regarded as a complicated movement in its own right, and who better to turn to for such an intrepid creation than the Master of Complications, Franck Muller?
Like most haute horlogerie marques, Franck Muller is no stranger to this category of fine watchmaking. In fact, it has been making skeletonized watches since the day it was born. Some of its most recent creations include the Giga Tourbillon with its openworked movement and the 7 Days Power Reserve, which boasts more negative space than actual movement, pushing skeletonization to new extremes.
Even though these are technical heavyweights, what with a tourbillon and seven days long power reserve, the watches appear almost light and airy. This hollow, weightless effect is what the new Vanguard Tourbillon Skeleton went for, but with a decidedly modern twist.
Maximum skeletonization has been achieved but with absolutely no compromise on movement stability, thanks to the astutely designed structure, which reminds one of the many beams on a suspension bridge – that’s quite apt considering that these minute, hollowed out parts are, themselves, called bridges. Echoing the color scheme of the case, they have been hand-polished and assembled, although judging from the rounded internal angles, one would surmise they had been cut and beveled by machine. Still, when fully put together, the movement Calibre FM 2001 is just as likely to sweep you off your feet, and we haven’t even begun to talk about its flying tourbillon regulator.
Those familiar with Franck Muller’s complications would immediately recognise the tourbillon carriage rendered in the shape of the manufacture’s initials. Held together by three screws, the asymmetrical FM insignia makes it just that little bit harder for the watchmaker to regulate the tourbillon, but Franck Muller had it mastered eons ago. Set in a circular black finished aperture, the carriage is finished to the same effect as the skeletonized bridges – pink gold with vertical brushing – and beneath it lay the blackened balance wheel oscillating at 18,000vph, the escapement, and the hairspring. The Vanguard Tourbillon Skeleton comes in titanium, carbon, stainless steel, and pink gold.
- Dimensions: 44mm x 53.7mm
- Functions: Hours, minutes
- Power Reserve: 60 hours
- Movement: Manual-winding Calibre FM 2001 with flying tourbillon
- Case: 44mm x 53.7mm in pink gold, titanium, carbon, and stainless steel
- Water Resistance: 30 meters
- Strap: Rubber-lined nylon or crocodile leather with matching deployant buckle
This article was first published in WOW magazine.