When we saw Kingston Chu’s rose gold Vanguard at the opening of the Franck Muller Sydney boutique in October, we knew we had to get a closer look. Here was a Franck Muller unlike any we’d encountered before: lightweight and sporty, yet still boldly designed with the trademark curves. So when we had the opportunity to spend some time with the Vanguard, we jumped at it.
Fans of Franck will be unsurprised to learn that there’s a profusion of Vanguard models available. A quick tally of the brand’s website shows 27 different models, in both time-only and chronograph versions, cased in a diverse range of materials from red gold and titanium right up to carbon fibre and full diamond set options. Really, there’s a Vanguard for everyone – and after careful deliberation we’ve found ours: reference V45 SC DT TT NR BR ER. Sexy, no? But clunky nomenclature aside, there’s a lot we like about this watch.
First up, the curvex case. While the distinctive shape remains, its execution in black PVD-treated titanium with crimson highlights makes the piece feel more dystopian than deco. In our opinion, the best thing about this case design is the broad, curved crystal, which really opens up the dial, allowing you to read it quickly, and inspect the detail closely. And it certainly holds up to such close examination with its hand-finished applied Arabic numerals detailed in red, which really makes them stand out against the dark, brushed dial. It also features compass bearings around the rehaut, though besides keeping things interesting, we feel it’s an unnecessary addition.
One of best things about this watch (and indeed any Franck Muller curvex) is the case profile. In this instance the middle case section and crown are finished in vivid red, which looks very cool against the matte black of the rest of the watch. The strap, in a mix of leather and rubber, is also seamlessly integrated into the case thanks to hidden screws, and the double fold deployant clasp neatly echoes the case shape.
The Vanguard collection as a whole is a refreshingly contemporary take on Franck Muller’s classic design, and this particular reference stands out. The combination of colours and the technical finishes make this Vanguard a sporty, stealthy, almost sinister timepiece – and we mean that in the best way possible.
Franck Muller Vanguard Australian pricing
The Vanguard V45 SC DT TT NR BR ER has an Australian RRP of $12,200.
Images by Jason Reekie.