The new Franck Muller Grand Central Tourbillon is one of the rarest modern complications of our generation and when this Watchland brand joins the 3 others before, it is time to revisit just what makes a Grand Central Tourbillon so difficult to accomplish. When the first production automatic tourbillon wristwatch was introduced in 1986, it was a marvel to behold. At the turn of the early 21st century, greatly aided by computer-aided design (CAD) and computer numerical control (CNC) milling, the tourbillon no longer posed as significant a challenge to watchmakers as it did in the early days. Furthermore, patents had lapsed and it was no longer an innovation that had to be “re-thought” of the way the karrousel accomplished the same objectives of combating gravity induced variance in timekeeping albeit with a different technique. Hence, the quest to introduce a heretofore unseen central tourbillon began in 1991 under the direction of Mr. Moritz Grimm and Mr. André Beyner.

Suffice it to say, it is not easy to place the escapement in the centre of the dial. Why? That’s typically where the hour and minutes hands are! Hence, given mechanical and architectural constraints, it’s more common to see the escapement and tourbillon cage around the periphery of the movement. Three years later, Omega’s technical department did find a sophisticated solution by moving the going-train to the periphery, giving the tourbillon centrestage. A brand patent also meant, other watchmakers had to find their own techniques to accomplish this new feat in watchmaking. In 2015, this patent lapsed, but it’s still not easy to develop your own central tourbillon – which is why only 3 other watchmakers have attempted it so far; simple mathematics like the space required for a round component like a mainspring barrel, would mean that typical power reserve would be less than ideal because it has to be much smaller given that the largest, roundest thing, is already dead centre. Introducing the Franck Muller Grand Central Tourbillon.

Set in the middle of an exceptional galvanised brass guilloché dial painstakingly coated with 20 layers of translucent lacquer, the Grand Central Tourbillon is the world’s first centre tourbillon in a tonneau-shaped Cintrée Curvex case. The curved crystal extends down to the lugs of the Cintrée Curvex, giving the dial a more dramatic effect. This edition has incorporates a “bezel” that sits under the crystal, allowing variations of the Cintrée Curvex Grand Central Tourbillon to have  two-tone or bi-metal aesthetics.

The result of over a year of painstaking research and development, central tourbillons are today still rarely practiced by watchmakers even with the patent lapsing. Frank Muller’s take on the Central Tourbillon complication sees its handsome 60 second tourbillon suspended by a single bridge—which is also shaped to indicate the seconds—and is elevated above the rest of the dial, magnificently on display, drawing attention to the complexity of the movement within, in an ingenious “stacking” of complications. Manufactured in-house by Franck Muller, the cal. FM CX 40T-CTR enjoys a generous 4 days of power reserve. the Grand Central Tourbillon’s minimal hour and minute hands extend outward from the central carriage on openwork circles that are also suspended around its spectacular centre of attention.

Franck Muller Grand Central Tourbillon Price & Specs

Case 35.85 mm steel or precious metal Cintrée Curvex case with 30 metres water resistance
Movement Automatic manufacture calibre FM CX 40T-CTR with 4 days power reserve
Price From CHF112,000

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