When we see something repeatedly, over time our brains quickly develop habits that allow us to deduce what we see without analyzing every bit of information. This is why we can fully understand passages made up of words that lack vowels, and why we can read the time on an analog watch display that has no hour or minute markers.
That’s why the Franck Muller Crazy Hours is one of the most delightful pieces of contemporary watchmaking. At the first moment, the dial looks completely normal, with a series of numbers arranged around its circumference. After half a second, we realized that this was not normal: the usual number positions were completely messed up. It’s a visual trailer — meaning and nonsense — and a brain teaser that plays with the way we’re accustomed to reading time in a natural clockwise order.
Since Franck Muller invented the Crazy Hours complication in 2003, it has (unsurprisingly) become a symbol of the brand that bears his name – as emblematic as the Cintrée Curvex cases that house these colourful limited-edition models significance. Few items of any kind combine mature glamour with childlike whimsy so well. If you’re dreading the end of summer, opting for tropical lagoon blues and greens or daffodils and sunflower yellows will keep the sun feeling year-round.
Even before you get into the really fascinating timing section, the dial is a visual feast. The oversized Arabic numerals (a vivid mix of XL and XXL) are hand-painted – rich in layers of paint and look almost three-dimensional against a luminous silver background. The wavy sunburst pattern is embossed and then coated with several coats of translucent varnish to create an effect very similar to a guilloche, playing with light as you turn your wrist. buy replica watches
Then there’s the striking: as the hour changes, the hands jump to the correct number immediately, while the minute hand follows its normal cycle. (This is where the “inferred” reading I mentioned at the beginning comes into play: you read/infer the minutes from the customary position of the hand, not the number it points to.)
The way it works is as clever as it is simple: it’s nothing more than a classic time-jumping complication – but with a clever twist. Look closely and you’ll see that four of the numbers are in “normal” positions: 1, 4, 7, and 10. The “Jump” complication is set to jump five positions per hour to end at the right time. Watching it happen is great entertainment. The reaction of looking at someone who doesn’t know a watch is better entertainment: they’ll think it shows the wrong time (at 5 o’clock, the hour hand is at the traditional 9 position, not where it “should” be – until the time change, the hands jump, and they’ll think the watch has gone completely crazy).
It also has another trick – one that will make fun of the owner even if you’re used to the unusual hour position. The leaf-shaped hands are filled with luminous material that glows in the dark, so you can (theoretically) tell the time in the middle of the night. Except you really can’t. Would you know that it’s 20 o’clock past (the minute hand is in the normal “20 o’clock past” position) but 11 p.m. past 20 o’clock? 20:30? You have no way of knowing unless you fully memorize where the hourly numbers are.
The Curvex Cintrée case — an elongated tonneau-shaped case with a curved caseback that fits snugly around the wrist — is one of the most elegant and comfortable. It’s all about curves: the cabochon sapphire crystal echoes the shape of the case back, and the sides of the case bulge slightly – the high polish of the steel adds to the visual effect. Despite the case’s 35mm x 25mm dimensions, it has far more presence on the wrist than any traditional 35mm round case I’ve come across.
The real charm of this watch lies in its contradictions: childlike in its charming packaging; the elegance and aesthetic details of vintage watchmaking in a very contemporary style; and a totally unconventional approach to timekeeping (via a very cool The complication that makes the watch nerd’s box tick) messes with our brains in the best way possible.