Flying to fight the force of gravity with the new Franck Muller Vanguard™ Revolution 3 Skeleton
There is a 2003 song by Grammy nominated artist BT (Brian Wayne Transeau), an American musician, DJ, singer, songwriter called The Force of Gravity (that also features JC Chasez). Given the new watch we are reviewing today, the new Franck Muller Vanguard™ Revolution 3 Skeleton, is all about defying the force of gravity, it’s only apt we began with lyrics that rung home.
“Remember the words we use to speak; The promises made have turned to all apologies; The weight of the storm of memories; Still you’re flying to fight the force of gravity; the force of gravity”.
In the case of the new Franck Muller Vanguard™ Revolution 3 Skeleton, “remember how the traditional tourbillons worked; the promises by brands to release something different that only turned to not even apologies; (burdened under) the weight of again and again designing tourbillons that compensated only for the force of gravity when in a vertical position; still you find one brand flying to fight the force of gravity, the force of gravity (with the new Franck Muller Vanguard™ Revolution 3 Skeleton).
From the Master of Complications comes a marvel of Haute Horlogerie: a triple axis tourbillon that unlike more traditional and common tourbillons not only compensates for the force of gravity when in a vertical position, it corrects that force of gravity in all positions.
Rare, impressive and darn right accurate, meet the new tourbillon in town.
Franck Muller has carved out a name for itself in the world of horology with its Revolution series of tourbillons. These timepieces often represent the pinnacle of contemporary watchmaking.
It’s not just the Revolution series; in-fact the brand is known for its creative prowess and stunning the world of horology from time to time, as evident in their offerings as the Tourbillon with jumping hours in 1986, a Tourbillon with Minute Repeater in 1987, an inverted Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar with Minute Repeater in 1989, the Crazy Hours collection in 2003, the Aeternitas™ Mega 4, or the Giga Tourbillon in 2011. Even though the brand is young, Franck Muller is no newcomer when it comes to creating accolade worthy haute horlogerie masterpieces with over 50 world premieres and patents to its name.
Coming back to the Revolution 3 Skeleton, as the name suggests, we have seen other previous versions but this is the first time that this movement has been housed in a Vanguard case, and has been given a unique sapphire dome on the front and back.
The Revolution is a series of watches by Franck Muller that was introduced way back in 2004. They include the 2009 Revolution 3 that were the first tri-axial tourbillons in the world. The journey started with the Cintrée Curvex collection featuring Revolution 1, Revolution 2, Revolution 3 and Evolution 3-1 — the brand added a Perpetual Calendar to the latter — before taking this feat of horological excellence and putting it inside a Vanguard collection case and skeletonising the movement. It is now available in two colour variations, red and blue.
Today we are looking at the one in red.
The designed and manufactured in-house reference V 50 REV 3 SQT NR BR (ER) features a 34.30mm (w) x 40.30mm (l) x 9.65mm (h) manual winding movement that is comprised of 359 components, 36 rubies and beats at the low frequency of 2.5Hz (18’000 A/h), and allows for a very impressive, drum roll please, 10-day power reserve. The skeleton movement is impressively decorated with microbillage and hand chamfering on the main plate and the tourbillon cage along with circular graining on the wheels. Franck Muller has also lent touches of colour to the movement with red anodisation of the tourbillon cage and indicators.
The new Franck Muller Vanguard™ Revolution 3 Skeleton features a very similar movement compared to its predecessor, the Revolution 3. The reference 9800 T REV 3 featured a bigger movement: 34.73mm (w) x 41.40mm (l) x 16.60mm (h). It was also a manual winding movement that was comprised of (lesser) 315 components, but beat at the same low frequency of 2.5Hz (18’000 A/h) and allowed for the same 10-day power reserve. In terms of decoration it was different too, featuring hand-engravings with an Art Deco motif, alongside Côtes de Genève, circular graining and hand-chamfering.
While the Revolution 3 came inside a Platinum 950 or 18 carats gold case, the movement of the new Franck Muller Vanguard™ Revolution 3 Skeleton is encased inside a typical barrel shaped Vanguard case measuring 46mm (w) x 55.9mm (l) x 13.7mm (h). This Grade-2 titanium with back PVD treatment hand brushed case has sapphire crystal with two domes on the front and back along with red inserts on both sides of the case. The case provides the watch with an okay 30m water-resistance.
The watch face shows the functions of hours and minutes at 12’o clock, power reserve indicator above the hand and minutes hands again at 12’o clock, a Triple Axis Tourbillon at 6’o clock, and carriages progression indicators at 8’o clock and 4’o clock. The latter show the rotation of the first cage in 1 minute and the rotation of the second cage in 8 minutes respectively. The rotation of the third cage is revealed in 1 hour.
The way this extraordinary triple axis tourbillon world is by slowly turning through the one-hour, eight-minute and 60-second cycles of its respective three carriages. Power flows from the gear train through all three carriages to activate the balance wheel five times each second.
Look, there’s a lot going on here, it’s a busy dial, that’s obvious, no point in beating about the bush there. Plus it’s a skeletonised dial at that. The judicious use of red helps in putting a big dent in improving the legibility of this timepiece. I gotta be honest here, we at Watch Ya Gonna Do About It give bonus points to watches that are legible. No special encrypted reasoning behind it, it’s just what we prefer in our timepieces. That said, this is not a conventional timepiece, like many we have reviewed in the past, especially from Hublot, it’s more of wrist art, or a kinetic sculpture.
And when you treat this not as a conventional timepiece but as an Objet d’art, the concept of legibility goes out the window; what remains is the pure mechanical wonderment that the new Franck Muller Vanguard™ Revolution 3 Skeleton is.
So even if the watch face doesn’t provide for a conventionally clean, clutter free look, it directs the eye towards the execution and motion of the Triple Axis Tourbillon and the various elements in red, providing for a visual overload that’s akin to strapping a Transformer to your wrist. Complicated as it may be, the timepiece stylishly reveals open-worked black bridges and red aluminium indicators that allow the wearer to observe the Triple Axis Tourbillon is all its mechanical beauty.
The watch is presented on a hand sewn red Alcantara® strap with a hand brushed Grade-2 titanium folding buckle. The strap not only is ergonomically effective as it takes the shape of the wrist but also perfectly complements the red decorations on the movement and the Vanguard case.
Watch Ya Gonna Do About It
The Cintrée Curvex Revolution 1 opened up a whole new way for the world to experience a tourbillon. By pushing the button on the left-hand side of the case of that watch, the tourbillon carriage rose up until it is just a few microns from the underside of the upper sapphire crystal. And if cared to look from the side, you would be able to see that the balance wheel is fully elevated above the level of the watch dial. That series has evolved over the years and how.
While the Cintrée Curvex versions had a more formal tone to them, the new Franck Muller Vanguard™ Revolution 3 Skeleton is more sporty and full on; it’s watchmaking of the next level and as some sites would put it, is a prefect billionaires toy. And for those who like to witness the mechanics of a tourbillon upfront, this one just hits the sweet spot.
The new Franck Muller Vanguard™ Revolution 3 Skeleton comes with Franck Muller’s 5-year tourbillon warranty and is delivered in a very special box with an automated opening system. It’s retailing for 480’000 CHF (excluding taxes) and the first delivery should be expected in September 2020. For more information on this and other Franck Muller watches, please head to their website here. All images are courtesy ©2020 Franck Muller Geneve unless otherwise stated.