The Most Complicated Watch Ever Made
The Aeternitas Mega – the most complicated wristwatch in the world - is the pinnacle of success in the art of watchmaking in terms of complexity and complications. With 36 complications and 1’483 components, the Aeternitas Mega is a wonder of micro-mechanic and watchmaking know-how. Wholly manufactured in-house, each of the 1,483 components, was designed to give the watch an elegant design in the pure traditions of the old “cadraturiers” of the Vallée de Joux. The name of the Aeternitas comes from Latin and means eternity. It is in tribute to the eternal calendar in the Aeternitas Mega that follows a 1000-year cycle renewable to infinity.
Franck Muller History
Franck Muller watches are one of the finest and most complicated of the world. The manufacture was founded in Geneva by Franck Muller and Vartan Sirmakes with the aim of creating exclusive timepieces characterised by complicated movements and original designs. Thanks to its strong in-house capabilities in numerous fields of Haute Horlogerie, this young company rapidly became one of the best Swiss horlogerie brands. Today, we believe we succeeded in combining boldness and creativity with exceptional Haute Horlogerie know-how.
Franck decided to devote his career to create highly complicated watches and started working in his workshop on timepieces that would become exceptional world premieres. Later, in 1991, he met Vartan Sirmakes, who challenged him to turn a small volume production into a prestigious brand and enterprise that Franck Muller is today.
Remaining faithful to its roots, Franck Muller Genève is established in the very same village where Franck started his activity in 1983, namely Genthod, in the neighboring countryside of Geneva. Only this time, it was mansion built in 1905 that was restored to become, in just a few months, the wonderful headquarters of this promising brand.
The Franck Muller house found, in this enchanting and poetic environment, the inspiration that would promote his creations. The extreme serenity and peacefulness of these surroundings reflect the quest of harmony and perfection to which the creators aspires. The classical terraced gardens of the estate, its breath taking view of the Lake Léman and of the Mont-Blanc, are the elements, and many more, that make of this place one that is absolutely unique.
It is in this elegant and friendly atmosphere that the Franck Muller watches are designed and made. In response to the growing success experienced by the brand, two additional buildings in the same style were built in 2000. In 2019, the house inaugurates two new buildings of 16000m that allows the factory to repatriate his team in charge of the manufacture of watch components. This vast architectural expansion represents the continuity and reinforcement. Just like at the very beginning, one of the main priorities of the brand is to remain independent.
Independence of creation, of innovation, of strategy, the brand is proud to use all means to respond to one unique criterion: the creation of exceptional timepieces.
Watchland, this unique watchmaking concept, enables us to concentrate on the same property all the various stages of the making of a watch: conception, watchmaking, assembling, case manufacturing, engraving, after sales department, etc.
The Franck Muller group also has several production sites in the Jura Arc such as dial manufacturing and case stamping, which are then delivered to Watchland to be finished and ultimately assembled. Franck Muller is one of the few brands that manufactures 100 percent its cases and dials as well.
Open to the public by appointment, visitors from all over the world come to visit. For Franck Muller, opening the Watchland site is a way of paying tribute to the craftsmen who perpetuate the great watchmaking tradition, while sharing his passion with those who already appreciate fine watchmaking, or who want to learn about it.
Franck Muller showed his gift for creativity from a very young age. As a matter of fact, this watchmaking genius has regularly come up with World Premieres since 1986. These watches were high complications that had never been made in the history of watchmaking. Franck was working on these marvels in the old way, making and adjusting each component by hand and by himself, therefore the production was limited to three or four pieces a year. Whether it was a Tourbillon with jumping hours in 1986, a Tourbillon with Minute Repeater in 1987, or an inverted Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar with Minute Repeater in 1989, everyone was amazed by these complications.
Until 1992, the year when the brand and the workshop were founded, these marvels were produced by Franck Muller himself and were registered under the Franck Genève brand. Since 1991, these products have been created under the Franck Muller Genève brand. From the triple axis Tourbillon to the most complicated watch in the world, the Aeternitas Mega, Franck Muller created exceptional timepieces that left his hallmark in the story of Swiss watchmaking forever.
Thus, Franck was keen to experiment and create new concepts in a conservative industry where tradition was valued over change. Consequently, in 2003, Franck Muller introduced a totally innovative approach to the very notion of time. In fact, the Crazy Hours established a new philosophy and proclaimed independence from the established order. This extraordinary model displays numerals in complete disorder while still keeping perfect time thanks to a jumping hour mechanism. This emotional complication quickly became one of the most emblematic timepieces of Franck Muller.
In 2004, after years of development, Franck Muller revolutionized the watchmaking industry by making the very first tri-axial tourbillon in the world.
The Revolution 3 offers an exceptional technical spectacle as well as emotions only to be found at Franck Muller. This 3 axis Tourbillon corrects the forces of gravity in all positions, contrary to a classic one which only compensates when the wristwatch is in a vertical position. This stunning complication is the result of one of the most complex creations in Haute Horlogerie. To this masterpiece, we added a Perpetual Calendar, pushing this complication even further, the result being the Evolution 3.1.
In 2007, after 5 years of research and development, Franck Muller presented a spectacular masterpiece: The Aeternitas Mega. This unique piece is part of the history of fine watchmaking as the most complicated watch in the world. With 36 complications and 1,483 components, the Aeternitas Mega is a wonder of micro-mechanics and watchmaking know-how.
In 2011 Franck Muller created the Giga Tourbillon, the world premiere featuring the biggest tourbillon ever incorporated in a wristwatch. This Tourbillon is absolutely massive. It is twice as big as a regular tourbillon, its cage measuring 20 mm in diameter and filling half of the watch. This unique achievement was bound by many technical difficulties and is once again the testament of the exceptional in-house capabilities of the workshop.
These unique complications required years of development, tests and adjustments. They testify the incredible know-how of the manufacturer, strengthening its name of Master of Complications. In October 2002, Franck Muller was granted the first prize of the Genève Watchmaking Grand Prix. This exclusive prize was the recognition of the watchmaker’s exceptional talent and the immense expertise of the manufacturer.
Since the 1980s, Franck Muller has become a name synonymous with beautiful finishing and unique designs. Throughout Haute Horlogerie and high complications, Muller has tied his name to a brand that has established a series of exceptional timepieces that, while originally avant-garde, have become embraced and often copied.
From its creation, the Cintrée Curvex case was very unique. Indeed, the Haute Horlogerie was bound by tradition and consequently not very open to innovation, especially in terms of design. At the time, there were plenty of round watches and perhaps a few rectangular ones, but there was nothing like Franck Muller’s Curvex. So it was a bold move to introduce, in 1992, something previously nonexistent on the market; a tonneau curved body in 3 dimensions involving great technical difficulties in manufacturing.
Thus, Franck Muller watches became easily identifiable due to their tonneau shape that is commonly recognized as the brand’s most significant silhouette.
For the brand, it quickly became a great success and a way to express its unique identity, assert its DNA and demonstrate its know-how in case manufacturing.
Similarly, Franck Muller timepieces became instantly recognizable for their unique and beautiful numeral design. The dials on our Cintrée Curvex models are also very complex to produce. For example, they must be perfectly curved to follow the shape of the case, but must still have the best guilloche, printing quality and precision. Introducing dials in gorgeous vibrant colors such as royal blue was also initiated by Franck Muller and showed all the hallmark of a classic Franck Muller design.
With its elegant cases, stunning dials and highly-complex movements, Franck Muller is very proud of all its timepieces. They really are great examples of clean and sober designs that have timeless elegance.
Franck Muller has distinguished itself not only by the exceptional nature of its models, but also by the creation of its own watch fair: the WPHH – World Presentation of Haute Horlogerie, where it demonstrates its pioneering status as an independent brand.
This exhibition is held on the Grand Malagny site, majestically facing the lake and the Mont-Blanc. The Grand Malagny, built between 1754 and 1757, is under the protection of built heritage, relevant for history, art, science or educational value. In this respect, the astonishing domain is classified as a cultural heritage of Geneva. The Franck Muller Manufacture purchased the estate of Grand Malagny in 2006 and it took several years of restoration so that the site is finally ready to welcome our annual exhibition on a breathtaking site mixing history of Geneva heritage with watchmaking know-how.
The WPHH is dedicated to the finest new timepieces of the brand. They are exclusively presented to professionals in the field and to the international press. Exceptional timepieces and world premieres have been launched there, such as the Franck Muller Aeternitas Mega - the most complicated wristwatch in the world.
Traditionally rounded off by Gala evenings welcoming up to 1,400 guests, the WPHH has become an important event for industry professionals.
Top stars have performed there - Ray Charles, Charles Aznavour, Paul Anka, Solomon Burke and Tom Jones, to name but a few. These unforgettable nights, featuring fireworks, lighting effects and water fountains, have charmed distributors, VIPs and the international press.
Master of Complications
All the mechanical watchmaking complications invented by Franck Muller are designed and developed at the heart of our own workshops. From the simple sketch of a world premiere mechanism to the execution of the plans, via the construction of a prototype, right through to monitoring the production — every stage of manufacturing a watch is followed to its successful completion.
Making a Movement
The Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar, an empiric complication, is manufactured entirely in-house. Beginning with hundreds of technical sheets for all the components, the components are then manufactured, delicately decorated and perfected before being incorporated into this exceptional movement.
Making a Dial
Franck Muller dials are manufactured entirely in house at our factory located in Les Bois, in the Swiss Jura. The artistry and talent behind a Franck Muller dial is incredible. Each dial needs 20 layers of lacquer and requires a drying period of one hour for each layer. Finally, the carefully hand painted Luminova numerals complete the work of art.
Making a Case
Franck Muller cases are manufactured entirely in house. They are stamped at our factory in La-Chaux-De-Fonds and then delivered to Watchland in Geneva for completion. All cases are artisanally polished by hand. Also, diamond cases require an incredible amount of time and mastery to accomplish, particularly with the Cintrée Curvex where it is very difficult to hand-set the diamonds along its curves.
Our watch decorations
Timepieces created by Franck Muller offer quintessential aesthetics and exceptional finishing on every component of our watch movements, whether they are visible or not. The level of care lavished upon them in our workshops makes Franck Muller watches truly exceptional. They are at the pinnacle of the art of watchmaking.
We use engraving to personalise and embellish our open-back watches. Delicate motifs, engraved on the different parts of the movements, are beautiful ornaments that give a watch its unique personality.
Côtes de Genève
This finish, known as Geneva stripes in English, looks like small parallel waves formed on a metal surface. They are present on the bridges and the rotor plate. Famous today, this form of decoration was, for many years, a distinguishing feature of watchmaking in Geneva.
Known also as perlage in French, this decoration is made up of slightly overlapping circles or spots. It is mainly found on the bearing surfaces of the plates of watch movements. It is carried out by hand by skilled craftsmen.
Sunray brushing & Snailing
Sunray brushing is a decoration made up of straight lines running from the centre to the edge of the piece and depicts the sun’s rays. A variant of this is snailing, a pattern consisting not of straight lines but of slight spirals. These finishes can be found primarily on the rotor segment and the barrel.
This hand-crafted finish consists of cutting the edge between the surface and the sides of a piece, creating, most frequently, a 45° chamfer, which is then carefully polished. In addition to the aesthetic aspect, this eliminates sharp edges, a source of crenellation, which could interfere with the proper functioning of the movement.
Mirror polishing, also known as black polishing or block polishing, represents the highest possible degree of polish. It leaves no visible traces and produces outstanding optical effects. Light is reflected in only one direction and, depending on the orientation, the piece changes from deep black to bright white.
Shot-blasting is a surface treatment process, similar to sanding. It involves subjecting a surface to a stream of glass microbeads, which strips it without damaging it. The surface thus obtained is shiny, like satin. In addition to the aesthetic aspect, it also eliminates sharp edges, which are a source of crenellation.
This involves decorating a metal surface with a series of extremely fine, parallel stripes. The effect created is regular, clean and catches the light from several angles. It must be uniform and, above all, the alignment of the micro-stripes must be flawlessly parallel.
The Circular Graining is a circular satin finish, a form of smoothing that produces fine circular lines and adds shine. This decoration is achieved by pressing a “baff”, a buffing stick, onto the surface of a rotating piece.
Diamond polishing is carried out by turning or milling on non-ferrous metals, using tools set with diamonds. Diamond polishing is used to produce high gloss surfaces, such as on bridge bevels.
The craftsman first removes machining marks and burrs from the flanks, then begins the étirage or drawing process, using different files to achieve a smooth, clean appearance. These processes leave marks and striations. Careful smoothing and polishing will result in a honed, even surface, which is essential for good bevelling.
Rhodium plating consists of electrolytically depositing a layer of 24k gold and then rhodium on a component to prevent corrosion and extend its life.
Passion, precision and innovation are the three essential qualities that highlight the creative genius of Franck Muller. For over twenty years, the history of our watches has been marked by innumerable masterpieces and collections giving a contemporary style and spirit within the legendary universe of the Art of Watchmaking.
In the workshops of Franck Muller Watchland, the watchmakers have the privilege of assembling the movement in its entirety. It is important that each part is given the individual attention it requires so that every wristwatch leaving Genthod workshops passes the test of time with distinction and that the excellence of the art of watchmaking may be passed on from generation to generation. Many artistic crafts are essential to watchmaking and, in Fine Watchmaking, respect is shown for perfect mastery of them. Franck Muller continually strives to perfect and extend his research into every single watch component, constantly refining the essential link between cutting-edge techniques and traditional craftsmanship.
As such, Franck Muller engraving workshops perpetuate this traditional craft, favoring ancestral expertise by respecting entirely hand work, with no intervention other than the talent of the artist and his tool.
Every component becomes “the” showpiece of the watch when one contemplates the beauty and precision in the creation and decoration of every part. The degree of hand finishing and hand craftsmanship on Franck Muller watches and their grand complications are exemplary within the industry. The care, patience and attention given to each component is tremendous. An artisan decorator is sometimes required to work 20 hours on a single component. Even if the components will not be visible, it is very important that the beautiful movement looks as beautiful inside as outside. This level of care is what gives to the Franck Muller timepieces their identity and their infinite value.