Review: Franck Muller Master Square Diamond
This Franck Muller Master Square retails at £86,300. Cheap, it is not, but good value? Perhaps one of the best. How is this possible?
There are two halves to the Franck Muller story, the first being with Franck Muller himself, who left the Geneva School of Watchmaking to start a business restoring high-end pieces for auction houses and watch collectors. He, as many talented watchmakers before him have done, decided that he wanted to work on his own watches rather than other people’s, and so, in 1983, he introduced the brand Franck Genève to the world.
Each Franck Genève watch was handmade by him, and featured a complication or an array of complications in a way the world had never seen before—typically featuring a tourbillon of some sort. From the first tourbillon that could be viewed through the dial, to the first triple axis tourbillon, and even the Giga Tourbillon, the world’s biggest at 20mm across, Franck Muller has always pushed his watchmaking abilities to the limit.
And that’s no exaggeration: in 2010, Franck Muller announced the Aeternitas Mega, the most complicated wristwatch ever made, with 36 complications assembled from 1,483 parts. I won’t list all of those complications—36 is a lot—so here are the greatest hits: there’s a tourbillon, naturally, a perpetual calendar, equation of time, mono-pusher flyback chronograph, two additional time zones—and it plays Carillon de Westminster on four gongs.
But a business doesn’t work without income—just ask Porsche, which came extremely close to bankruptcy in the 1990s before acknowledging that it needed to sell a more universal product in order to keep building its sports cars. Enter the 2002 Cayenne SUV, a vehicle hated by purists that enabled Porsche to continue giving them what they very nearly lost.
Franck Muller needed its own Cayenne, something to generate a steady turnover to keep the company going in between the complicated—and extremely limited—flagship pieces. This was the genesis of the entry level collections such as this Master Square, designs that reflected the Franck Muller aesthetic that offered considerably more affordability and availability.
But at £86,300, this particular Master Square is anything but affordable. And the price has nothing to do with the movement—you get an ETA, albeit redecorated by Franck Muller—the money is all quite obviously spent on the materials: white gold and diamonds.
The arrangement of the 392 diamonds is what’s known as pavé setting, a complex and tedious process that involves carefully drilling the holes for the diamonds to sit in, then dissecting the material between the holes into the prongs that will hold the diamonds in place. It can only be done by hand, one diamond at a time.
But that doesn’t explain how this Master Square could be perhaps the greatest value watch out there. To elucidate further, it would be prudent to clarify that value does not necessarily equate to price. A private jet for half a million pounds isn’t cheap, but it’s good value relative to the cost of private jets in general.
It’s the same for this Franck Muller, because if you decided that this was the watch for you, but you couldn’t stomach paying the best part of £100,000 for one, then you could save yourself a fortune and source one from the secondary market instead.
We all know that, for the most part, buying something pre-owned bypasses the steepest part of the depreciation curve—so just how steep is it for the Master Square White Gold Full Diamonds? I’ll tell you—this watch is priced used at £40,000. That’s a £46,300 saving from new—the cost of an entire Patek Philippe 5205 and change enough for a ceramic Daytona, too.
Whether or not you think this Franck Muller Master Square is worth £40,000 is up to you, but there’s no denying the value in buying smart and letting someone else take the hit in depreciation first. Do it right and it could save you over £40,000.
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