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Tour(billon) of beauty

A complication-focused exhibition with a £2.1m centrepiece

Tour(billon) of beauty

June 25 2013
Avril Groom

Swiss watchmaker Franck Muller, a revolutionary when he first sprang to prominence with his own tourbillon design almost 30 years ago, has done more than most to promote this complication as the plutocrat’s movement of choice. Big, striking, yet always horologically innovative – and many with the distinctive tonneau shape – his models adorn the wrists of oligarchs, sportsmen and movie stars. For many top brands, the tourbillon, rotating visibly through a spyhole in the dial, is now the sine qua non of reassuringly expensive watches.

Muller is underlining his company’s supremacy in this rarefied world with a travelling tourbillon exhibition that lands firstly in London on Tuesday June 25, appropriately at Bond Street retailer Marcus, which has long championed both Muller and high complications. The star of the show is the new Aeternitas Mega 4 (pictured), a unique white gold piece described as one of the most complex ever made, with 1,483 parts. Apart from the tourbillon, it boasts a minute repeater function with full grande sonnerie and Westminster chimes, which is very difficult to achieve in such a small space, alongside the tourbillon. Other functions such as chronograph, day, date, leap year and second time zone, equation of time and two power reserve dials also find a corner, their dizzying mechanisms visible through the crystal caseback. This one-off watch is currently priced at £2.1m.

There are 15 other models in the exhibition, which lasts until Sunday August 4. They vary from a tiny, one-off, baguette-diamond-embellished piece with the world’s smallest tourbillon movement, through sleek and light titanium models to the giant Giga Tourbillon skeleton. The starter model is the black Grand Prix in titanium, at £92,500 – which, by Muller tourbillon standards, is a steal.