Salmon Dial Franck Muller 7000 DF Chronograph
There’s Franck Muller as the 2000s knew it and then there’s early Franck Muller Chronographs, with almost no thru line between the two. I can’t think of single name with a larger spread between early elegance and senile nonsense, save perhaps some of the French fashion brands who enjoy burning unsold bags at the end of each year to maintain scarcity. I wouldn’t mind if Hublot picked up that strategy, but that’s just me. The genius of Franck Muller’s early years was the classicism seen through Muller’s detailed, slightly mad eye. It’s a bit like Singer Porsche, taking the classic Patek chronograph’s as inspiration but exaggerating the details. Roger Dubuis managed the same trick. But when I say Muller is mad, this one performs dark arts like Voldemort with a face on the front and back.
This is a 7000 DF, where the DF stands for double face, a chronograph made after the highly-collected Lemania era. Muller made a habit of giving his chronographs two dials in order to include a myriad of scales like pulsations, telemetre, and tachymetre on the back without cluttering the quite elegantly styled dial. It’s a solution to a problem many watch designers will have encountered, but done mechanically by making an extra-long pinion for the secondary back chrono hand to mirror the front’s motions. Interestingly, few others have attempted the same trick. The essential tradeoff is this: would you rather see the calibre or have a more practical chronograph? Today, I think most people would choose the former. But I’m glad the creativity of Muller left us with a few of these oddities for posterity, a testament to his out of the box thinking, if a little less classic.
That said, one dial is more special than the other here and possibly unique. The salmon circular Clous De Paris guilloché may possibly be unique. The scholarship you normally see around brands like AP or Patek is nascent in F. Muller. Enthusiasts have started cataloguing variants, but more in the early Lemania chronographs (the later 7000 series are Valjoux 7750). I haven’t seen a dial like this on a 7000. Nor has the seller. That’s not quite enough to be certain, but it’s enough to say it’s definitely uncommon. Here in a 39mm pink gold case, the aesthetic is classic pink-on-pink we love in things like 1518s and 591s. But the price is actually . . .not bad? That’s new.
This example is lightly worn, no huge bashes but a set of hairlines across that highly polished, slightly bulbous bezel. There’s an even light to moderate level of surface wear on each bit of the exterior, but that’s about it. It comes with its box and buckle, from a well-regarded Belgian retailer.