Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Master of Complications

Ever since I’ve been coming to Geneva the past 4+ years, I’ve driven past (or ridden the bus past) a shop that sits on the little island in the middle of the Rhone River along the Rue du Moulins.  

The theme above the shop name declares, “Master of Complications.” And as a communications/branding professional, I always wondered what they meant by that.
I thought I might be able to use such a theme, but in my case it would mean one who makes simple things more complicated.
Looking at the displays in their windows, it wasn’t even clear what they were selling. For example, today they were displaying old-fashioned grammarphone-style record players, painted in different bright colors. (I’m pretty sure they aren’t selling retro grammarphones.)
Whenever we rode past the Franck Muller store, I commented to Donna-Lane that I wanted to take a photo of the sign sometime. So this afternoon, enroute to Rue de la Confederation, where D-L was going to get her new glasses adjusted, we got off the bus at the Bel-Air stop and backtracked a bit to the Muller store to snap our curiosity shots.
D-L suggested we ask Herr Muller, or his people, what “Master of Complications” means, and in she marched.

When I caught up with her, D-L was speaking with a nice young man, who introduced us to a very pleasant woman, who seated us at an elegant table and took the time to explain that Franck Muller is a watchmaker, and that “complications” are essentially any feature in a watch beyond the simple display of hours, minutes, and seconds. The more complications in a watch, the more difficult it is to design, create, assemble, and repair. A typical date-display chronograph may have up to 250 parts, while a particularly complex watch may have a thousand or more parts. Ultra-complicated watches – such as those by Muller, Patek Phillipe, Breguet, and Vacheron – are produced in strictly limited numbers. 

You won’t notice any prices on the Muller website (at least I couldn’t find any) – http://www.franckmuller.com/en/home/  – and if you have to ask, you can’t afford it.

The Muller saleswoman told us they have produced the wristwatch with the most complications in the world (http://professionalwatches.com/2010/01/worlds-most-complicated-wristw.html), and it’s available for only 2,700,000 Swiss francs (about US $3 million). 

I asked Donna-Lane if she’d like one for Christmas.

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