The tranquil village of Genthod becomes a hub of international interest during the World Presentation of Haute Horlogerie (WPHH). It was a clear, cold day in January when we visited the Franck Muller Watchland. Backed by Mont Blanc and facing Lake Geneva, this wonderful piece of land is a gift from Mother Nature, and this is the place where Franck Muller watches are designed and produced. Seated at a desk by floor-to-ceiling windows from which the beautiful lake was visible in a short distance, the Master of Complications was larger than life. Dressed in a Mandarin-collared jacket with no tie, Mr. Muller greeted us with a warmth that was almost between friends.
It might be strange to hear a master watchmaker say that time does not exist. To him, it is simply a human invention that helps society organise its days and nights. It makes sense when you think that time does not truly exist in the universe. And time is certainly not the same for everyone. Different countries have different time zones, and different cultures have a different concept of time. On a more personal level, we certainly use time as we like according to our lifestyles.
Mr. Muller challenges the concept of time with Mystery, a watch model which has no hands indicating time, just a single diamond going around the dial. Another example is the Crazy Hours, where you can assign your own value to the hours, while timekeeping remains accurate.
With over 200 watch models at Franck Muller, the creator is always full of ideas, inspired by many things in life. In fact, creativity is to turn a learnt experience into something personal. In the end, it is an act of self-expression. To Franck Muller, creation always comes from within. Naturally, every design is his baby. A huge amount of planning is involved before coming up with a new design. Knowledge is his ultimate inner resource.
Franck Muller customers then are special people. Mr. Muller describes them as creative individuals and leaders who find his many designs to match their personal taste. Customers are like his families, because they often collect one piece after another. Architects, painters, businessmen… Together they form a clientele that is like a creative club of people.
Someone like Franck Muller does not follow trends; he creates them. He designs with spontaneity and whim. But it is not as simple as we think. The challenge for Franck Muller is to constantly create something that appeals to his customers. For someone who is well-informed and someone who has everything, consumerism is no longer pure leisure. It becomes the result of careful consideration.
Towards the end of the interview, we had a better understanding of Franck Muller himself. An avid traveler, he regularly visits Switzerland, France, Monaco. He always spends one month every year in Thailand where the food, the people and the weather are wonderful. Describing the wonders of this exotic country, Mr. Muller ends our encounter by reiterating the importance of the personal experience. Because it makes all the difference in the world.
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