Franck Muller's Vanguard Casablanca reinvents a timeless classic
A younger, more affordable Casablanca for young watch lovers.
If the name "Casablanca" evokes Humphrey Bogart's farewell to Ingrid Bergman in the iconic 1942 film With the image of Paris", we are not surprised. Or, if you're a wealthy traveler familiar with the exotic, charming Moroccan port cities are known for their diverse architectural and culinary treasures.
However, if you are a watch enthusiast, the name “Casablanca” will inadvertently bring to mind Franck Muller’s exquisite tonneau-shaped dress watch collection of the same name. Legend has it that the eponymous founder of the brand was himself inspired by the film Casablanca when creating the watch collection.
Defined by sensual lines, the Casablanca timepiece magnifies the curves and volume of a traditional tonneau-shaped case – an aesthetic Franck Muller has since trademarked "Cintree Curvex" (French for "curved arch") - The Casablanca watch is also equipped with a variable dial with large Art Deco Arabic numerals fanning out from the center. In fact, the look and style would become synonymous with Franck Muller. More pertinently, the Casablanca line, both an old-school tribute and uniquely modern dress watch, was so popular that it appeared on multiple cash registers during its heyday.
Although the Casablanca line has never been discontinued, it has taken a backseat in recent years, overshadowed by the brand's other lines; the Vanguard line, launched in 2015 in particular, has dominated new releases. This year, however, Franck Muller decided to cross-merge the two collections with Vanguard Casablanca. If silver screen comparisons were to be made — after all, the collection has “Casablanca” in its title — these watches are like Baz Luhrmann-esque remakes of the originals.
Watch lovers familiar with the Vanguard line will be familiar with these watches' bulky cases (sort of like the gym sibling of the Cintree Curvex), colorful, eye-catching dials, and thick, sturdy straps that convey a sporty and dynamic spirit. Just as Franck Muller's iconic products, such as Crazy Hours and Revolution 3 Tourbillon, received the Vanguard treatment and finally looked ready to party, Vanguard Casablanca also re-emerged as an introduction that looked a few years less than it was. Notable series.
Available in 41mm and 43mm sizes, the Vanguard Casablanca makes its presence felt. The tonneau profile has been significantly enhanced, replacing the original Casablanca's Art Deco dial and classic lance-shaped hands with a unique font with bold, stretched printed hour markers (also Art Deco) with skeletonized hands , framed by the minute track of the Vanguard collection, with compass points on the inner bezel.
The showmanship of the series is straightforward, to say the least. Available in automatic three-hand and steel chronograph models, the watches are available in a black dial with Super-LumiNova markings, a brown dial with chocolate numerals and a salmon dial with Super-LumiNova markings. Each version is imbued with its own charisma while collectively expressing the collection's sporty luxury DNA. There’s also a steel three-hand and chronograph boutique version with a black dial and blue numerals, which is, in our opinion, the coolest look in the collection.
The sporty style of the Vanguard Casablanca is a stark departure from the exuberant yet refined elegance of the original Casablanca. Franck Muller calls it a rendition of the "21st Century" series, and it's not too far off the mark. In addition, a brand spokesperson revealed that Vanguard Casablanca aims to attract the attention of young watch lovers.
The muscular silhouette of these watches, in their vibrant colours, made them Franck Muller's entry-level product category. Granted, that's still a pretty high bar for young executives. But as the brand's entry-level collection, Vanguard Casablanca offers an alluring and intriguing proposition.