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AT LARGE QUALITY TIME

9900 Chronograph Conquistador Grand Prix by Franck Muller A quick browse through the quirky FranckMuller.ch website and the brand’s current watch collection before my meeting with the “master of complications” himself revealed penchants for product names such as the “Crazy Hour” and rainbowcoloured Arabic numerals on his dials. So finding a red-faced Mr Muller halfway through a bottle of scotch by 2pm at his press day on London’s Bond Street proved only momentarily unsettling; the same goes for his insistence on speaking French with me throughout our meeting, but it was the look of total incomprehension when asked what makes his watches different from or better than his competitors that really gave it away. Simply put, this is a man who plays by his own rules — not those of his publicist, his competitors or stuffy industry associations. He has boldly staked out a place for himself as an iconoclast intent on shaking up the somewhat reserved world of Swiss haute horlogerie; and good on him I say. Witness the unabashed ostentation of the 9900 Chronograph Conquistador Grand Prix for example. At 48mm in width, 62,7mm in length and 14,6mm in height, this is not a wristwatch to be tucked away under a shirt cuff. A case made of titanium and a hitech alloy known as Ergal is straddled by three push pieces for the chronograph: a start-stop at two o’clock, a fly-back at four o’clock and a date correction at nine o’clock. Look closely and you’ll see that the design has an almost psychedelic, Alice in Wonderland-feel to it, with huge Arabic numerals applied onto the wave-

unpretentious and basic. We sleep on the verandah, there is no electricity so we use candles and old paraffin lamps, and we have to collect rainwater. We would have the meal in the cool of the evening. I would have my whole family around me. To start with we would have a refreshing gazpacho soup, and then we would have cold meats and salads, and coronation chicken with aromatic rice. I have a sweet tooth, and I’d choose a dessert of red jelly made with my own wine, with homemade cassata ice-cream. To drink, we would start with one of the fabulous Lismore Chardonnays from Greyton, and with the meat we would have the 2007 Belfield Magnifica Cabernet Sauvignon. The dessert wine would have

shaped grain of the dial. The calibre FM 7000 automatic movement inside has been diamondpolished, rhodium-plated and finished with Côtes de Genève (Geneva Stripes) engraving, all complex aesthetic additions that bump up the number of man-hours in the production process. All that pales by comparison with the rose gold tourbillon version, however, on which the chronograph and date window make way for an impressive grand complication that

to be a Beaumont Goutte d’Or Noble Late Harvest — stunning. Fantasy Christmas wine? That would have to be a sweet Muscadelle from the 1930s, made by my grandparents who were wine farmers in the Tyger Valley. BRUCE JACK, FLAGSTONE AND CONSTELLATION, WESTERN CAPE I have a Christmas Day fantasy of waking up on a white beach somewhere, perhaps the west coast. I would be woken up by a beautiful, mesmerising woman wearing a light blue sari. She’d offer me a glass of 1990 Krug Champagne in a crystal glass and treat me like James Bond. She would then lead me to a large tent at the foot of a colossal dune and draped with swirling silks of red, purple and yellow. At each of the 13 seats a bright orange pincushion would be laid.

drives the second hand (now positioned at six o’clock). This is a watch aimed at men who think for themselves. MATT MORLEY

Retail price: from R180 000 Movement: self-winding calibre FM 7000 Case: titanium with Ergal or rose gold, 48 x 62,7mm Features: chronograph, 48-hour power reserve, water resistant to 10 ATM Available at: S. Bacher & Company, (011) 372 6000

“I’ve taken the liberty of opening a bottle of The Berrio Sauvignon Blanc 2007,” the woman would say, before and pouring me a generous measure. A group of people would arrive, including my mother, my two boys, other members of my family and friends. We would eat mussels cooked in white wine, garlic and cream with lemon zest and saffron, they would need a chunkier wine, such as Frostline Riesling 2003 (Stormhoek). The main course would be springbok shank, cooked slowly with kumquats in red wine and served with strawberry popcorn mielie-pap chips, Tigerella cherry tomatoes, Violetta cauliflower and Dragon beans. The party by now would be in full swing, at which point I would realise the beautiful woman serving me was my wife. Fantasy Christmas wine? A double magnum of Flagstone Mary le Bow 2004. CLAIRE HU

Business Days' Wanted watch column, Dec 2010, Franck Muller Conquistador Grand Prix  

Business Days' Wanted watch column, Dec 2010, Frank Muller Gran Prix watch, by Matt Morley

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