Franck Muller — the actual man, not just the brand — created the Master Banker watch after a conversation with an actual banker friend of his, back in 1995.
Franck recalls, “One of my close friends is Paul Tange, the son of Kenzo Tange, the father of contemporary Japanese architecture and one of the key proponents of structuralism. At Institut Le Rosey, the oldest private boarding school in Switzerland, he befriended an Iranian boy who became a huge banker in London.
“I got to know them both as they spent a lot of time in Geneva. One day, we got together for lunch and this banker mentioned that he was curious about Watchland, so I brought him on a tour.
“As we walked through the grounds, he told me, ‘Franck, I want to buy a watch from you, but the watch I want has not yet been invented.’ This intrigued me immediately.
“What he told me was this. ‘The world has changed forever. I spend almost no time in my actual office. One day I am in London, the next day in New York, the next day in Tokyo. What is important to me is speed, how quickly I can reach a new destination, how quickly I can react to the opening of the stock market there.
“‘When I wake up and I look at my watch, I want to immediately know when the market opens. Because in the time it takes me to figure out the time, I could have made or lost a fortune. So what I really need is a watch that is actually three watches, to simultaneously tell the time of three different cities where I am doing business.
“‘But I want to have all three time indications controlled by a single movement, and I want complete hour and minute indicators for each time zone… I may need to speak to my wife, who may be in Los Angeles; at the same time, I need to make a business call to Paris; yet I must also keep track of my meetings where I am. In addition, this watch must be incredibly simple to use.’”
Franck, of course, leapt at the challenge. He recalls, “I said to him, ‘Look, what you are asking for is extremely complicated, because it is as if you are placing three clutches in a single movement. It is as if you are putting three clutches into a single car motor. I can make just one watch like this for you, but it will cost a fortune. If I can make several watches with this invention, it will be very affordable because I can spread the cost of research and development over an entire series.’ He agreed.”
Mind you this was the mid-90s and what Franck was about to create was no small feat. It certainly was a complication that would become the first of its kind. The genius of it all is that the solution Franck devised allowed for three separate hour and minute indications, a central running seconds and a date window, all of which can be adjusted by one single crown.
Franck goes on to share further that the solution came to him while he was overseeing the addition of two buildings at Watchland and he found himself face-to-face with a certain construction vehicle: “I was looking at a Caterpillar tractor, and the basic underpinnings of its mechanics gave me the idea of how to solve the puzzle of the Master Banker. What is incredible about this solution is that if you were to take 100 watchmaking engineers and put them in an office together, such is the simplicity of the mechanism I arrived at that they would never find it; or even if they found it, the first 99 would all come up with far too complicated solutions.”
The solution that Franck devised remains a patented multi-time zone mechanism, which uses an additional pinion to drive the second and third time zones, while local time display is driven by the movement’s standard gear train.
In celebrating what was clearly a horological milestone, The Hour Glass on its 40th anniversary got together with Franck Muller to revive the Master Banker and its MVD 2800-MBSC automatic movement. This is The Hour Glass 40th Anniversary Cintrée Curvex Master Banker Limited Edition, and also the watch that will cap off the Singapore-based retailer’s series of commemorative watches. The stainless steel case of the watch is in Franck Muller’s signature Cintrée Curvex case, with a dark brushed sunray finish dial, paired with mocha-colored sub dials.
What a way for The Hour Glass to conclude their yearlong celebrations, with the revival of a grand modern horological masterpiece that was clearly ahead of its time.
Self-winding Caliber MVD 2800-MBSC; central hour and minutes for home time; second and third sets of hour and minute sub dials for two additional time zones; date; 42-hour power reserve
26.20 mm (diameter) x 7.45mm (thickness) in stainless steel; water resistant to 30m
Hand-sewn leather strap
Limited to 1 of 1
More information: TheHourGlass.com