Since Franck Muller first introduced the Vanguard series over five years ago, the collection has leapt forward and become the platform on which new and bold developments are launched. The Franck Muller Vanguard Racing Skeleton collection also introduced a new era for the brand, as it moved away from jewellery-centric watches and re-established itself as a fine watchmaking manufacture. Along with the Vanguard, we saw new chronograph models emerge, as well as impressive oversized tourbillons, and delightful revivals of classic Franck Muller complications such as the Crazy Hours. The Vanguard collection reminded the industry at large that Franck Muller was one of the first watchmakers to place the tourbillon on the front of the watch dial, rather than keep it at the back of the movement as with traditional watchmaking. In many ways, his work introduced an era of dynamic high watchmaking to be shown off on the dial.
On the eve of its 30th anniversary, the brand continues to expand on its Vanguard series, with a new model, the Racing Skeleton, hitting stores this quarter. The watch sets the Vanguard collection’s bold and definitive looks in the style of a motorsport-inspired machine, delivering a sexy timepiece with hidden chassis enhancements that are not immediately evident at first glance.
At the heart of the Franck Muller Vanguard Racing Skeleton is the FM 2800-DT movement, a three-hand caliber that’s a foundation movement used previously in other Vanguard Racing models. The movement is fully skeletonised this time around and visible through the front of the watch, which has a secondary see-through crystal within the watch showing the central seconds and the gear train that lies underneath.
The watch differs from other past Franck Muller Vanguard Racing Skeleton models such as the Grande Date or Gravity. A central seconds ring, which supports the seconds display at the centre of the dial and under which a skeletonised date display rests, is attached to the case via the hour markers, which alternate between angled bars and cut-out Arabic numerals. The movement sits below this layer, with four bridges that support and protect it against shock and are screwed to the back.
While the hour and minute hands run in pretty much the same way, the seconds hand is a different matter altogether. The start of the seconds run is at six o’clock rather than 12, much like the speedometer of a vehicle. This reposition may not seem like much, but it has a very significant effect when it comes to looking at the watch. For example, the minute shift that takes place as the seconds hand passes “59” now occurs at the base of the dial rather than the top, and the date jump is similarly scheduled.
Four case variations are available, in rose gold, steel, carbon or titanium. The watch has a suede strap with a rubberised back, which is also attached to the watch case via two screws rather than a standard spring bar. Thus, the strap appears to merge into the case, rather than sit around it, giving it a seamless appearance in design. Motoring enthusiasts will find this a charming addition to their collection.