Back in April, we saw the launch of Grail Watch, a new venture from Wei Koh with a focus on creating limited edition watches made with independent brands. The stated goal of Grail Watch is “to make dream watches real,” which is certainly an idea we can get behind. Limited editions, of course, are everywhere in the watch space, but the idea behind Grail Watch is to make the best limited editions. Everyone probably thinks their limited editions are the best, but according to Wei, the thing that will set Grail Watch apart is the ambition behind each project. With their new release, we start to get a sense of what he means.
The focus of the second Grail Watch release is Franck Muller, a watchmaker and brand that doesn’t get a lot of ink these days, but really had a moment in the 90s and early 00s, well before the current boom in independent watches. Franck Muller, known as the “Master of Complications,” had particularly great success with his early chronographs. These are watches that remain highly collectible today, yet are still somewhat under the radar. They are far from hype watches, and still very much targeted by connoisseurs.
This release celebrates the 30th anniversary of Muller’s brand with the release of three watches inspired by and paying tribute to his classic chronographs. All three watches are made from stainless steel in 39mm cases – slightly larger than the original watches, but still conservative and appropriate.
The Bi-Compax Chronograph has a two register silver dial, and is directly inspired by limited edition versions of this watch that were made for Italian retailers in the 90s. The movement is a new old stock Lemania caliber from Muller’s personal archives, and the watch includes both solid and exhibition casebacks. The Tri-Compax Chronograph is similarly inspired by those Italian limited editions, and features delicate leaf hands and a large Breguet “12” at the top of the jet black dial. The Tri-Compax is also powered by a new old stock, hand wound, Lemania caliber.
Rounding out the release is the Double Sided Rattrapante Chronograph, a signature Franck Muller complication. From the front, the watch presents as a typical chronograph, but through some clever engineering of a base Lemania movement, Muller’s version includes a central chronograph seconds hand on the reverse side, along with several scales for easy reading of pulsation info, as well as tachymeter and telemetry data.
For Grail Watch to shine a spotlight on Franck Muller in 2022 feels like a big swing, but to position this release as a trilogy and bundle them all together in a boxed set is truly ambitious. Collectors, though, have responded positively. The boxed set, priced at $64,500, is currently sold out, as is the Doubled Sided Rattrapante Chronograph if bought separately (only 30 were made). The Bi-Compax and Tri-Compax (both in runs of 50) are still available, and priced at $19,500 and $20,500 respectively. Grail Watch