Into the Woods

Singapore Tatler - - STYLE WATCHES -

Ni­co­lette Wong

ome peo­ple think that watch di­als are just stamped on and that’s it, done! If only it were re­ally that easy!” Th­ese words, ut­tered by a man named Jean-paul Boil­lat, were part joke, part frus­tra­tion. Boil­lat is the di­rec­tor at Les Fils d’arnold Lin­der, the ex­clu­sive pro­ducer of Franck Muller’s dis­tinc­tively eye-catch­ing di­als. His do­main, a small build­ing nes­tled in a small Swiss town called Les Bois or “the woods” in the snow-capped Jura moun­tains, looks non­de­script from the out­side bar a green sign bear­ing the name of the com­pany. The sim­plic­ity of its sur­round­ings merely serves to em­pha­sise the ex­quis­ite na­ture of the di­als the com­pany pro­duces. Ev­ery­thing, in­clud­ing the shap­ing and cut­ting of the di­als, painting, and di­a­mond set­ting, is done here. The task of tak­ing us around the dial man­u­fac­ture fell to Alain Vion­net, the man­u­fac­ture’s pro­duc­tion man­ager, who as­sured

gets a rare peek into Franck Muller’s dial man­u­fac­ture

us that the di­als were most def­i­nitely not just stamped in 5sec. We knew that we were about to wit­ness a la­bo­ri­ous man­u­fac­tur­ing process, so it came as quite the shock when, at the very be­gin­ning of the tour, Vion­net quite placidly broke a fin­ished mother-of-pearl dial in half. Once the gasps had sub­sided, he ex­plained that the dial was al­ready doomed be­fore he broke it. De­spite its seem­ingly gleam­ing ap­pear­ance, it was ac­tu­ally dam­aged, scratched in some mi­cro­scopic way, and there­fore un­ac­cept­able ac­cord­ing to Franck Muller’s strin­gent stan­dards. The rest of the tour con­tin­ued with fewer heart-stop­ping mo­ments, and we were able to see the pro­gres­sion of the di­als through each pro­duc­tion process. We started with the cre­ation of the brass plate that forms the base of each dial. It starts out life as a smooth disc, about 2cm thick. A two hun­dred-tonne weight then slams down on the plate, adorn­ing it with a stamped sun­ray, or frappe soleil, fin­ish. This base is then later cut away from the ex­cess ma­te­rial us­ing water jets that run 24/7. The

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