Introduced in 2018 but put on hold until recently, the Skafander adapts Franck Muller’s trademark tonneau watch case for a dive watch. Getting its name from “scaphander”, an archaic term for a diving suit, the Skafander has been facelifted just as it reaches stores in both stainless steel or titanium.
Brash and bold watch, the Skafander is much typical of Franck Muller’s current style. At first glance, the design might seem derivative, bringing to mind the Hublot Spirit of Big Bang, and various Richard Mille models.
It was Franck Muller that made the tonneau case a thing in contemporary watchmaking with the Cintree Curvex – Cartier, on the other hand, invented the shape in 1906 – so the brand has every right to the shape. In fact, the Cintree Curvex was one of the “it” watches of the 1990s, so successful it arguably inspired all tonneau watches in 21st century watchmaking.
Complicated and mechanical in style, the Skafander has a partially open-worked dial, which doesn’t help legibility, but it’s very much the style for modern sport watches. The Skafander manages to set itself apart amongst watches in this genre, by way of its case shape and inner rotating bezel. And priced at about US$15,000
The Skafander’s key feature results from matching a rotating bezel with a tonneau case – it’s an elapsed-time diving bezel that is surprisingly complex, and probably unwieldy in use. The bezel is rotating with a pair of pushers on the side of the case: the pusher at eight advances the bezel in one-minute increments, while the upper pusher at ten does the same in larger, five-minute steps. In between the two is the “Lock” button that disengages the adjustment mechanism, preventing unintentional movement of the bezel.
Part of the mechanism behind the over-engineered bezel is visible through the aperture on the dial. The Skafander is powered by the FM 2800-SK movement, which is essentially the venerable ETA 2892. While ordinary, it is reliable and easy to service.
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