Golf and Time’s ‘Backswing’
Nicholas Rudaz, Franck Muller’s chief operating officer, gives an exclusive preview of the New Backswing timepiece.
GV: In more than 20 years, Franck Muller has always defied convention, but golf is a conventional sport.
NR: It was actually by listening to a watch collector that we first got the idea to do a watch linked to the golfing world. Nobody needs yet another watch today but by giving a good reason to buying one is our challenge and it pushes the boundaries of our creativity.
The Backswing functions as a stroke counter. Could it have been something else, like a GPS distance device?
You certainly are pushing the limits of our creativity! I think that you just gave us a great idea for our next watch! Jokes aside, I think that integrating a GPS inside a watch will be best achieved in a smart watch and I would leave that to the brands doing them.
Our original idea was to have a counter that would add up each swing for each hole giving you one total at the 19th hole. But we decided that this would require too much mechanics, which in turn would be impractical for use on the golf course. We wanted to keep the watch as lightweight as possible, and hence, we only have one counter for each par and as well as a version without any counting.
How’s your game?
I only started golf about two years ago and absolutely loved it. I started with a lesson at a driving range in Bangkok and then went on to a beautiful golf course in Hua Hin. My instructor told me I had a natural swing. I’m sure he was just being polite but at times, it felt amazing. I think that travelling around our beautiful planet by playing golf is probably one of the best ways of doing it. You get to see amazing landscapes and it helps you stay fit.
You visited Malaysia last year to showcase the Backswing. Describe that experience and what the response to the watch had been.
Malaysia has always been close to my heart since I was 12 when I first visited KL and Penang. At the time, my mother was due to remarry a Brit who was living in KL and I was enrolled at the international school. We even had the house and I still remember the address today: it was: 11 Lorong Taman Pantai Satu Pantai Hill. It sounded so exotic to my ears!
Every time I come to KL, I always remember those times fondly and I have seen the town transform itself. Also, I love Malaysian food so it’s always a pleasure to visit this important market for Franck Muller.
We have also developed many limited editions for Malaysia such as the Vanguard Harimau Limited Edition in 2016. There is a constantly strong demand for our watches in Malaysia and we want to continue developing our brand here.
The watch, inspired by golf, is made of titanium, steel and silicone. How about urethane, which is the covering layer of the
modern golf ball?
Titanium will keep the weight of the watch down as you don’t want too much extra weight on your wrist as you hit the ball. And the silicone is used inside the movement in order to absorb the shock as much as possible without deregulating the timekeeping of the watch. We did actually give some consideration to using urethane but technically, it was not possible to fix it to the case.
Will there be a golfing ambassador for Franck Muller now that you’ve got the Backswing?
At the moment, we currently do not have any plans to work with a golfing celebrity. But we do plan to develop the product for fans of the sport. We feel that all golf fans will naturally fall in love with this fun watch. The Backswing will always remind its owner that it’s time to hit the green.