MICRO MONDAYS: Furlan Marri deliver retro chronographs at a great price in their assured debut collectionThor Svaboe
The 1940s were peak years for twin register chronographs with some notable greats from Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin and Lemania. As the functional sports watches of that era, the typical twin register layout was balanced with a delicate design language and an often whimsical art-deco flourish to the graphics. In 2021, their intricate detail and compact 34-35mm cases make them perfect dress watches. But the combination of their high value and frail mechanical movements means they often languish in display cases and safes rather than getting the daily wear they deserve. Admittedly, there is much to be said for staring mesmerised through a loupe at the busy dial of an early vintage chronograph. But what if you could have your horological cake and eat it?
Furlan Marri may present the solution. The microbrand openly takes inspiration from Patek, Vacheron and the greats of the game – one of the models in the launch portfolio is the Tasti Tondi, the Italian nickname of a chronograph grail from Patek. Significantly, however, Furlan Marri’s first collection comes with a VK64 mecha quartz movement from Seiko that’s solid, dependable and accessibly priced. The upshot is that you get classic looks in a robust form that you’re not terrified to wear for fear of the potential repair costs.
What makes Furlan Marri different from other Kickstarter-funded microbrands is that they have meticulously worked through every angle and detail – right down to their media information package. It might seem strange to mention this, but to receive a beautifully printed newspaper together with a handwritten note, instead of a WeTransfer with hastily put together press shots, immediately brings Furlan Marri to another level. These guys are clearly serious operators who agonise over getting every detail just so.
From the The Financial Times pink of the newspaper, to the well judged decimal font by Hoefler&Co for the dial text (also used in the newspaper’s headlines), I was seriously impressed. Yes, these might seem like small touches, but they set a thoughtful tone that shows the brand’s professional intent.
Lucky early backers will have access to the launch models Ref. 1022-B Farro and the rather delicious Ref. 1031-A Havana Salmon, along with three other standard models in what is an impressive and well thought out range of references. (Yes, Furlan Marri has even marked the references with numbers that are a nod to vintage greats, yet another fun detail in their concept.)
When you have collected watches for a while, you develop a narrower band of preferences, and twin register chronographs are right in my sweet spot. But there is a science to the graphic balance of the dial architecture, sub register size and case diameter. Getting it wrong can result in cross-eyed pandas or goggle-eyed rabbits. With their debut collection, Furlan Marri have managed to get very close to a vintage Patek in their balance on the dial and, for me, that hits the proverbial nail on its head.
The Ref. 1022-A Laccato Nero with its reverse panda dial is bound to be an immediate favourite. The case is an absolute gem at 38mm with a slim 11.2mm thickness that alongside its sweeping lugs will make it an absolute joy on the wrist. The black dial is busy as only a vintage chronograph can be, its gloss surface the perfect stage for a taupe minute track and silver print on the scales, with two silver sub registers classically intersecting the minute track. The calm balance of the dial is vertically dominated by the needle chronograph seconds hand and the applied roman numerals at 12 and 6.
This being a mecha quartz movement, the execution of the chronograph is kept delightfully analogue with an intricate balance in the ’40s chronograph dial. This is easier said than done as there is a wealth of detail to consider. Visually, a reverse panda will give the impression of the sub registers being larger due to the sharper contrast and here the spacing of elements are both retro-perfect and highly legible. The feuille hands are curved in yet another example of the detail-focused design of the two partners Andrea Furlan and Hamad Al Marri.
The case shape is inspired by the work of Francois Borgel and the Taubert family, among the best case makers at a time when the larger brands didn’t have in-house case production. We see a sharp blend of sweeping brushed sides, highly polished lug tops and a rounded step bezel. FM has put a lot of work into getting the oft neglected lug design both period correct and ergonomic. They curve down to a swoopy end with the magic of drilled ends to our strap-swapping delight. A large crown and pump pushers dominate the right side of the case with a classic Patek-like design to the pushers that have an intricate sun-ray pattern to the tops. Proportionate to a tee, the inspiration is clear, and has been followed with an intense sense of balance that makes the price very inviting.
Ref.1041-A ‘Mr Grey’ and Ref. 1021-A ‘Tasti Tondi’ are more formal studies of the era. Mr Grey has a silver tachymeter scale and a medium grey centre, the brighter silver of the twin registers giving it a cool elegance under the domed sapphire crystal. Ref. 1021-A ‘Tasti Tondi’ is the purist’s ’40s chrono in a two-tone grey and silver design with the crisp blue of tempered steel hands for the chronograph seconds and the 60 minute counter at 9 o’clock. It’s a watch to be paired with a light summer linen suit and a Negroni on a summer’s evening, your vintage roadster parked outside.
The two Kickstarter-exclusive models, Ref.1022-B ‘Farro’ and Ref. 1031-A ‘Havana Salmon’ are worth being quick on the campaign trigger for, as they dial up the glamour factor for this functional chronograph by quite a few notches. ‘Farro has the same gloss black dial as the ‘Laccato Nero’, but here in a gold-plated case with gold-applied indices and hands for that cocktail party reflection of vintage gold on the wrist. The ‘Havana Salmon’ has a warm dial of chocolate and salmon colour making the silver registers and polished detail pop with elegance. The classic decimal font of the Furlan Marri text at 12 and 6 makes the design nous of the team obvious in both size and placement on the dial – the proportions are absolutely spot-on. The only trouble with these five chronographs is actually having to choose a favourite (not an easy task).
We can consider this meca quartz line to be chapter 1 of the Furlan Marri story and, moving forwards, we have a suspicion that chapter 2 will include exciting news. This, after all, is one of the best debuts I’ve seen for a long time. If in doubt, notice the passion put into something as mundane as the box for the chronograph. Here is a faux leather clad travel box with a velour interior, folding two-part opening top, and the Furlan Marri logo in gold foil. Now, if you’ll excuse me , I’ll get back to enjoying my horological newspaper with an espresso.
The Furlan Marri Chronograph, pricing and availability:
The Furlan Marri Chronograph is available from $330 USD on a leather strap with an extra strap included in the launch package. For more details, visit Furlan Marri here
Made in partnership with Furlan Marri. However, the opinions expressed in this article are our own in accordance with our Editorial Policy