“THE NEW RULING IS FAR TOO FLEXIBLE … IT’S SHAMEFUL THAT SUCH A STRONG BRANDING AS ‘ SWISS MADE’ ACTUALLY MEANS NOTHING TO THE END USER”
Nicholas Rudaz, COO of Franck Muller
What have been some of the highlights for Franck Muller in 2017?
The 25th anniversary of the brand, which was celebrated at our headquarters in January, in May in Japan and this September in Hong Kong, marked a milestone for a young and unique brand known for its complications and designs.
Which timepiece have you worn most this year and what makes it so special? I love wearing our Crazy Hours Curvex in white gold with Swiss flags on the dial. Its fun complication uses the heure sautante complication to keep a correct timing while having the numbers scattered in a uniquely odd order. The Curvex shape is our DNA, our emblematic shape and the complication is unique. It’s a very emotional watch in the sense that when I show it to friends or clients, they don’t understand how it works. It’s only when I show them how the jumping hand functions that they, too, appreciate the complication.
Where did Franck Muller sell well in 2017?
The nice surprise of the second quarter is to see the business growing in Hong Kong. The market is definitely rising here again, and we expect it to grow further in 2018.
There is an increasing number of smart watches on the market. Do you foresee any kind of revolution in the mechanical watch business in response?
A true mechanical watch will always be sought after by watch collectors. The [ appeal of the] smart watch is short- lived, as every six months the old generation is replaced with a new technology. We prefer to let other brands exploit this market and concentrate on the purity of traditional watchmaking.
To get the younger generation on board to become Franck Muller aficionados, are there any specific releases aimed at the youth market? The Vanguard case ( which launched in 2014) is sportier and appeals to a younger audience, with a starting price that’s more affordable for younger generations.
What defines a watch for you – is there ever an overlap between mechanical and “smart” timekeepers?
A watch is a timekeeper to be worn with pride and joy on the wrist. A mechanical timepiece encapsulates a long history of savoir- faire. Of course, there are many different ways to show the time, and a smart watch is just another possibility.
What are you most looking forward to in 2018?
Next year will be the 15th anniversary of the Crazy Hours watch and to mark this occasion, we will be presenting some new, unique colours for our southeast Asian and Hong Kong markets. In 2018, we will also extend two buildings to offer 16,000 square metres of additional production space at our Watchland headquarters in Genthod. We’re also very excited to be presenting some wonderful novelties this January at our World Presentation of Haute Horlogerie ( WPHH) event.
What’s your opinion on the new “Swiss made” 60 percent rule? The new ruling is far too flexible, which enables some manufacturers to produce all their components in Asia at cheaper costs before mounting the movements in Switzerland. It’s shameful that such a strong branding as “Swiss Made” actually means nothing to the end user. Indeed, the consumer is deceived into buying a product seemingly of good quality, but in fact, the origin of the product is from another continent. At Franck Muller, we are fully verticalised, and all our components are made in Switzerland. All Swiss watchmakers should be proud to state that their watches are made in Switzerland, if that is indeed the case.
What factors ensure a watch retains its popularity over the years?
Its creativity and design. As for watchmakers, it’s their dedication to quality.