Franck Muller pushed the boundaries of the possible in high-end watchmaking in its earlier years, particularly with its whimsical complications like the Crazy Hours. Now, the brand has gone in the direction of edgy and provocative with its collaboration with Tokyo streetwear brand #FR2. Bearing the clothing label’s emblem of two naughty rabbits, the #FR2NCK MULLER Vanguard is a limited edition available only in Southeast Asia and Australia.
When I first saw the #FR2NCK MULLER Vanguard, I was conflicted about the aesthetics. This type of pop-culture collaboration has been done before and often. Various watch brands have tied up with well-known streetwear labels. And Franck Muller itself recently launched a Vanguard customised by Bamford Watch Department to feature Popeye on the dial.
But upon closer examination, the #FR2NCK MULLER feels like a more interesting collaboration because of the striking black-and-white livery – and the irreverent logo on the dial. The rabbit emblem is fairly discrete at a distance, making it something of a in-joke.
Beyond the design, the case is notable for being a composite of carbon fibre and glass, which gives the material a banded pattern that is slightly glossy. The composite case perfectly complements the black-and-white palette of the watch. And inside the composite case is an in-house automatic movement, making it slightly more interesting than the Franck Muller watches powered by stock third-party movements.
As is usual for the Vanguard, which is more or less the entry-level Franck Muller model, the #FR2NCK MULLER Vanguard is more affordable than the average Franck Muller, with a retail price of just under US$12,000. It costs only slightly more than the Vanguard standard model, making it a compelling alternative.
That said, while it is a limited edition, it’s a run of 800 examples, a large enough number to be a drawback. But for those wanting an iconoclastic and amusing contemporary timepiece, this fits the bill.
Streetwear meets high-end watchmaking
Short for “Fxxking Rabbits”, #FR2 was founded by streetwear guru Ryo Ishikawa. Buoyed by the popularity of Japanese streetwear in general, #FR2 has gained a cult following both in Japan and abroad thanks to its obviously provocative graphics.
Given that Franck Muller was once the enfant terrible of watchmaking, back when his brand was first established in the 1990s, the collaboration between the two is fitting. And given that the Vanguard is a bestselling sports watch that very fits in with the streetwear aesthetic, it is unsurprising that Franck Muller chose it as the base for the #FR2 collaboration.
The Vanguard retains the trademark Franck Muller tonneau form, but minus the lugs. In a first for the brand, the case of the #FR2NCK MULLER is a composite of carbon and glass fibre, but it has the same dimensions as the standard large model of 41 mm by 49.95 mm.
According to the brand, the composite is fabricated from a mixture of carbon powder, glass fibre, and polymer resin that is fired in an oven at a temperature of 150 degrees Celsius to create a strong material that can be milled into the case.
The matte-white dial has bold hour markers with a glossy black PVD finish, save for seven and eight o’clock, which have been replaced by the #FR2 logo of two rabbits. For a more three-dimensional effect, the PVD hour markers are applied and fairly tall, while the hands are open-worked, as is the #FR2 logo. And for nighttime amusement, Super-Luminova has been applied to the #FR2 logo as well as the hour markers and hands.
Apart from the#FR2 dial and case material, the rest of the watch is identical to the standard Vanguard model. It employs the FM 800-DT calibre, a proprietary movement with bi-directional winding. The calibre was constructed by Martin Braun when the German watchmaker was employed by Franck Muller Watchland, but is now used across the Franck Muller range.
Key facts and price
Franck Muller #FR2NCK MULLER Vanguard
Diameter: 41 mm by 49.95 mm
Height: 12.2 mm
Material: Carbon and glass fibre composite
Water resistance: 30 m
Movement: Cal. FM 800-DT
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, and date
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 42 hours
Strap: White nylon strap with print
Limited edition: 800 pieces
Availability: Only at Franck Muller boutiques and retailers in Australia and Southeast Asia beginning January 6, 2023
Price: 15,800 Singapore dollars including GST (equivalent to US$11,800)
For more, visit franckmuller-sea.com.
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