THE IMMORTALS – The Franck Muller Crazy Hours is a horological exercise in pure, unbridled funD.C. Hannay
It goes likes this: 8, 1, 6, 11, 4, 9, 2, 7, 12, 5, 10, 3. No, this isn’t some Fibonacci-like mathematical sequence, the combination to a very complicated electronic safe, or even a code for sending secret military messages via a cipher machine. It’s the order of numerals on the Art Deco dial of one of the most out-there wristwatches in the horological universe, the aptly named Franck Muller “Crazy Hours”. Why, you ask? In the world of Franck Muller, the question is more often “why not?”.
First introduced in 2003, the Crazy Hours quickly became a totally unique outlier in the watch world, the brainchild of Swiss watchmaking wunderkind Franck Muller, who began his training at 15. After watchmaking school, he began working on high-end pocket watches for high-rolling private clients and museums, and also did work for the Patek Philippe Collection. Ever the slacker, he designed his own tourbillon wristwatch at the advanced age of 26. And while he had plenty of private client work to fill up his dance card, he longed to start his own company, and did so in 1991, and the House of Franck Muller adopted the slogan “Master of Complications”.
And it’s a very specific complication that powers the Crazy Hours, known as a jump hour. In this case, the minute hand operates as normal, while the hour hand “jumps” at the top of each hour to the correct time on the seemingly random numerals placed around the dial. This is accomplished via a jump hour module placed atop the automatic movement inside the case. It’s a mesmerising thing to watch the hours change as the hand darts to its correct place, dancing about the intricately guilloched dial. The effect is akin to something straight out of Alice in Wonderland, or in Muller’s case, Alice in Watchland (the name of Franck Muller’s headquarters along the shores of Lake Geneva). It doesn’t make any logical sense, rather, the entire Crazy Hours concept is an exercise in horological virtuosity, with the goal being nothing more than to bring pure, unbridled fun to the sometimes far-too-serious world of watch collecting.
And fun it is, with its outsized tonneau case in precious metals, specially finished steel, and even carbon fibre. And if you’re a fan of colour, or even a bit of bling, Muller’s got you covered, with jewel-set models and multi-coloured hand-painted dials.
As if the random jump hour complication weren’t enough, Muller has also trotted out some real horological heat, including tourbillon versions.
Even unlikely timepiece icon Snoopy has gotten in on the action, with his own special Bamford limited-to-25 edition in blacked-out matte steel with a too-cool lumed dial. George Bamford has never been averse to a bit of fun, and has a real affinity for Charles Schulz’s maverick beagle, so the collaboration makes perfect sense.
Such outrageous timepieces are sure to draw larger-than-life fans, and the Crazy Hours has been seen on the wrists of such luminaries as Elton John, Kim Kardashian, fighter Conor McGregor, and footballer Cristiano Ronaldo. And while there’s nothing subtle about the look of the Crazy Hours, for its fans, isn’t that the point?