Tourbillons are one of the most beautiful things one can find on a watch, if not certainly the most immediately eye-catching. And to think if it weren’t for a young Franck Muller and his bold ideas of watchmaking, the tourbillon may have been kept at the back of the movement where it was traditionally placed. It was Muller’s 1984 wristwatch that became the first to feature the complication dial-side, and his spinning antics haven’t stopped since.
Muller’s eponymous brand has created some of the most memorable tourbillons on the market today. The Giga Tourbillon, with its 20mm diameter, takes up half the dial and is the largest tourbillon in the world. The Thunderbolt Tourbillon, completing one rotation in an astonishing five seconds, is the fastest. And most recently, in 2021, Franck Muller released one of the industry’s rarest: a central tourbillon.
The Grand Central Tourbillon is exactly what you’d expect from its name. A spectacular tourbillon sits smack dab in the middle of the brand’s signature Cintrée Curvex case, a stunning visual anchor amid dramatically outsized Art Deco numerals and a flashy Clous de Paris stamped guilloche pattern radiating from the middle. It’s grand, all right.
But what makes it all the more impressive is how challenging it is to engineer such a watch. Placing a tourbillon in the middle displaces the hands. Even though there are numerous examples of watches with hands mounted elsewhere or without hands at all, having a large round mechanism in the centre also leaves little room for other important components, like the (equally large and round) main spring and barrel. It is for these reasons that only a handful of watchmakers have bothered to work around such a challenging blueprint. But the team at Franck Muller figured it out in just a year.
In the Grand Central Tourbillon, the hour and minute indicators are actually two rings that are stacked around the tourbillon. Combined with the tourbillon’s singular bridge that also acts as its second hand, this becomes a compact and legible solution for time-telling. The namesake complication is also mounted a little higher than the rest of the watch face, and placed as close to the sapphire crystal as possible for the best possible view.
Since spectacle is the whole point of this watch, the Cintrée Curvex case also had to be slightly redesigned to accommodate the movement. By using a new technique to fix the glass at 12 and 6 o ‘clock, the sapphire crystal extends all the way to the lugs of the case. This means the bezel is now placed under the glass, with this separation from the case also allowing the watch to play around with two-tone looks. The shaped movement is an automatic one — hardly ever the case for a Franck Muller tourbillon — and provides a comfortable four days of power reserve.
Barely a year since its release, the Grand Central Tourbillon now welcomes a new size in 36mm (down from 40mm) and eight references. There are three set with diamonds and five without, with case material options in white or rose gold, or carbon. With both sporty and glamorous looks to choose from and an even more accessible case size, the Grand Central Tourbillon will continue Franck Muller’s legacy of bold, contemporary watchmaking, and head-turning style.
Discover the full Franck Muller Grand Central Tourbillon collection here.