Franck Muller cheap watches rarely go unnoticed. No matter how you feel about it, the eye-catching curvaceous tonneau case shape for which the brand is known requires attention. I’ve always thought of Franck Muller as a brand that fills a specific niche. It’s, at least in my opinion, the shinier, more classically-influenced precious-metal counterpart to Richard Mille’s high-tech futurism. These watches are for those who want to talk about their timepieces. If you want to be sure to start a conversation, what better way than to paint your watch bright green or bright yellow. This is exactly the strategy explored by the Franck Muller Vanguard Racing V 45 SC DT watch, which we will experience first-hand in this article.
Since we reviewed the time/date only Vanguard and the last model of its kind (the Frank Muller Vanguard Glacier watch). So how has the series changed since then? Well, the Glacier, despite looking very similar to these new models, isn’t actually part of the Racing Collection. Given that the eye is inevitably drawn to the dial in front of the case, the difference between the Racing Collection and previous Vanguard iterations may not be very clear. However, differences can be found in the profile of the latter. Not only do the colorful and flared sides make this case more aggressive than the regular Vanguard, but they also tie the entire colorway together. Furthermore, these colorful flashes continue the vibrant sporty feel of the case’s exterior and interior.
Adding a colorful crown guard was a good step in my opinion. I’ve always felt that the standard Franck Muller silhouette (which evolved from the Cintree Curvex style the brand is probably best known for) was a little too feminine for my tastes, even considering some of the newer styles have stretched to sizeable Dimensions. The new, updated jaggedness of the Vanguard Racing Collection look is a huge improvement in my book.
The case is available in two materials: the stainless steel case pictured in this article or the 18k rose gold case, which also comes with two dial variations. Both are the same size. The case width is 44mm, the lug-to-lug length is 53.7mm, and the distance from the wrist is 12.7mm. For a watch of this unusual shape and profile, it’s no surprise that it’s water-resistant to just 30 meters. As predictable as it can be, and while the odds of someone actually wearing a Vanguard racing watch during vigorous physical activity are slim, it always bugs me a bit when a sports watch offers such meager moisture protection.
For such a modern design, the DNA of the avant-garde is definitely Art Deco. I would say that the classic Franck Muller look that sets the brand apart from its peers is to Art Deco design what steampunk is to the Wild West. It seemed to freeze aesthetic taste in time, and material technology accelerated around it.
The dial features bold, form-fitting Arabic numerals for added depth. Beautifully machined, with sharp edges and clean lines, the numbers are a big part of this design. In fact, the numbering on the Pioneer cheap watch has always been my favorite thing about this family, and one of the only things I love, without a doubt. As mentioned, this case didn’t satisfy me until this release, but now I feel like Franck Muller has really found the formula for a great sports collection that meets all the legibility, implied dynamism and identifiability requirements. I also love yellow and green, for that matter. It must be the Norwich City fans in me who finally fought to the surface.
The Franck Muller Vanguard Racing collection is powered by the FM 2800-DT movement. It is a self-winding mechanical movement with a diameter of 25.60 mm and a thickness of 3.6 mm. Each model in the collection features a 42-hour power reserve and 28,800vph, the bare minimum to expect from a watch that so clearly defines its sporty character. The Calibre FM 2800-DT consists of 158 components, 21 of which are gemstones, and all bridge engravings feature a 24k gold finish. In addition to the beautiful decoration, the movement is also available in a variety of different styles of polishing, including Côtes de Genève, circular grain, diamond polished, sunray brushed and 45 degree polished, as well as hot blue polished screws.
It took me a while and had plenty of opportunities to try on Franck Muller watches myself, but I finally think I got their appeal. These two models, ref. V 45 SC DT RACING (VE) (green) and reference. The V 45 SC DT RACING (JA) (yellow) is the most exciting of the four series that debuted recently. The other two models – the V 45 SC DT RACING (ER) (black dial with red accents) and the V 45 SC DT RACING (NR) (white dial with black accents) – feature rose gold cases.
While the white dial version with black accents is a very nice watch, neither precious metal version feels as comfortable on the skin as the two steel models. I believe it’s because of steel’s suitability for sports watches and the stylistic incongruity of pairing luxurious metals like 18k rose gold with such a vibrant, edgy design.