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One Of The Most Complicated Wristwatches Ever: Franck Muller Aeternitas Mega 4 Hands-On

One Of The Most Complicated Wristwatches Ever: Franck Muller Aeternitas Mega 4 Hands-On Hands-On

The Franck Muller Aeternitas Mega 4 I have long considered not a grail, but rather a myth, really. Not that I have ever looked for it specifically, but I have never stumbled upon it anywhere online, other than when featured with the company’s official photos. Meanwhile, as years passed, I have in fact worn and/or seen in the wild most all of the craziest watches the horological world has managed to bring to this world. The Aeternitas Mega 4 was, however, nowhere to be seen – at least in those parts of the world that I frequented. The Miraculous Encounter happened unexpectedly on the last day of our SIHH 2018 trip this January, when this watch just… appeared. I was baffled, but not baffled enough to miss calling first dibs before proceeding to take hands-on pictures of this beast myself. Here’s how the Aeternitas Mega 4 looked and felt like in the real world.

One Of The Most Complicated Wristwatches Ever: Franck Muller Aeternitas Mega 4 Hands-On Hands-On

The Franck Muller Aeternitas Mega 4 next to a Grand Seiko SBGC001… with about 1,050 fewer parts in it.

One Of The Most Complicated Wristwatches Ever: Franck Muller Aeternitas Mega 4 Hands-On Hands-On

All images by David Bredan

First, the basics of the complexities. 36 complications, 23 indications via 18 hands and 5 discs, 1,483 components, 99 jewels, 91 wheels (!), 7 pushers and 4 correctors, five years of planning and, reportedly, a full year to assemble… Oh, and a price tag of around $2.7 million. These are the figures the Franck Muller Aeternitas Mega 4 shocked the world with at the end of 2009 – even if watches with well over 1,000 components had existed before it.

One Of The Most Complicated Wristwatches Ever: Franck Muller Aeternitas Mega 4 Hands-On Hands-On

I wish to clarify that the level of complexity in a watch can be measured in more than a handful different ways – from component count through number of complications, indications, complexities and novelty-factor of indications, durability, level and complexity of decorations and so on. Therefore, I will not call this the most complicated ever – although it was widely regarded as such at the time of its launch – because it is a claim easy to undermine by mentioning other watches that are, in their own right, just as worthy of the most superb of superlatives. Another important thing to consider is how the Aeternitas Mega 4 has 36 complications but “””only“”” 23 indications. This is because, as you’ll see from the list below, the list of complications includes mechanical complexities that render a feature more complex/different than it basically would be, hence adding to the total figure of complications – but not always to the number of indications (e.g. flying tourbillon counts as two because it is a tourbillon that is of the “flying” arrangement without an upper bridge holding it down).

One Of The Most Complicated Wristwatches Ever: Franck Muller Aeternitas Mega 4 Hands-On Hands-On

Let us now entertain ourselves with a full list of functions and complications inside the Franck Muller Aeternitas Mega 4 – keeping in mind that this is coming from a hard-to-find, official Franck Muller document from the time of launch, not fished from the interweb.

  1. Hour, minute & second display
  2. Day-Night display
  3. Grand strike
  4. Small strike
  5. Silence
  6. Minute Repeater
  7. Westminster Carillon on 4 gong
  8. Programming of the Grand strike-Small strike function with a waterproof push-piece and display on the dial
  9. Programming of the Strike-Silence function with a waterproof push-piece and display on the dial
  10. Lifting-lever mechanism of the strike when in hand-setting position
  11. Mechanism which will not allow the start of a new strike if the precedent is not to the end
  12. Bolting mechanism of the hand-setting during the strike
  13. Transmission mechanism to the hammer which permits the adaptation to different shape of the gong
  14. Movement power reserve indicator
  15. Strike power reserve indicator
  16. Silent Centrifugal governor of the rate of the strike
  17. Tourbillon on a ball bearing with ceramic balls
    One Of The Most Complicated Wristwatches Ever: Franck Muller Aeternitas Mega 4 Hands-On Hands-On
  18. Balance wheel with adjustment screws in gold, without index
  19. Breguet overcoil with Phillips curve
  20. Flying tourbillon carriage, without any bridge, visible on the dial
  21. Automatic self-winding-mechanism of the movment with platinum micro rotor
  22. Automatic self-winding-mechanism of the Westminster carillon with a platinum micro rotor
  23. Perpetual Calendar
  24. Display of the days
  25. Display of the months
  26. Retrograde Date
  27. Secular Calendar
  28. Display of the year up to 999 years
  29. Bissextile year display
  30. Indication of the secular years
  31. Astronomic moon: deviation of 6.8 seconds for each lunation representing an error of one day every 1000 years
  32. Equation of time
  33. Two additional time-zones
  34. Chronograph incorporated with three column-wheels
  35. Instantaneous minutes counter
  36. Hours counter incorporated in the mechanism of chronograph, retrograde hand display
  37. Fly-back hand mechanism

One Of The Most Complicated Wristwatches Ever: Franck Muller Aeternitas Mega 4 Hands-On Hands-On

The FM3480 QPSE is the all you can eat buffet of fine watchmaking complications. The movement is 34.40mm wide, 41.40mm tall and a whopping 13.65mm thick. In other words, the movement is about the same size as a small, tonneau dress watch all cased up – except for the fact that it is much, much heavier. I must say, I’m slightly disappointed that Franck Muller didn’t add the entire list of complications in letters to the name of the caliber – Patek style – as I would have loved to see an FM3480 QPSETCWCHRPEGMTARMFBPRDRGSPSSC! Talk about missed opportunities!

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One Of The Most Complicated Wristwatches Ever: Franck Muller Aeternitas Mega 4 Hands-On Hands-On

The fun begins when you are handed the watch and first feel its weight. The 18ct white gold Cintrée Curvex 8880 case is 42mm wide, 61mm long, and 19.15mm thick. The weight is absolutely immense and yet, it feels great in a strange, inexplicably awkward way. I’m sure you’ve been there when you’ve been wearing a watch for long and, for a moment, you sort of forgot you had it on and ended up shaking your hand in panic to determine whether or not there was a watch still wrapped around your wrist. Well, I don’t think a sane mind – or even a severely intoxicated one, for that matter – could ever disregard the feeling this watch provides on the wrist. It’s so heavy and intimidating that you are constantly aware of its thickness (not to bump it into things) and its weight… It’s the watch-equivalent of The Mountain’s unnecessarily large broadsword – that’s a Game of Thrones reference you are invited to disregard, just think of a big ass sword.

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Comments

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  • Mikita
    • BJ314

      Everything about this watch is completely absurd. A turd in every way, everyday.

      • Berndt Norten

        It’s the 6??

  • IanE

    Zowee! And, what everyone wants to know is :- how much does a service cost?!

    • Not to mention; how long would such a service take?

  • Technologically impressive, to be sure; the amount of craftsmanship and attention to detail that went into it’s construction must be respected. But by God, it is hideous – A swirling vortex of discordance and confusion.

    And I’m just talking about David’s shirt.

    • David Bredan

      Ha! Touché!

    • pingrava

      I felt the same way when I visit St, Peter’s in Rome. The unparalleled craftsmanship eaves you breathless but damn if I want my house to look like Nero’s bordello.

  • SuperStrapper

    This watch aged better than I may have thought. It’s still ugly and looks brutal on the wrist, but not really outdated. Without a close eye as what a wonder it really is, from a glance it looks like a joke or a toy on the wrist. It just sits there like someone through it would be a good idea to have a toaster strapped to their arm. In case of… emergency toast requirements.
    The automatic winding seems out of place. Not that anything on a dogs breakfast of a watch could really be out of place I guess.

  • Bozzor

    The next Youtube sensation: the look on the suburban mall watchmaker’s face when you take this in for a service…

    • Mikita

      I would not recommend walking in the suburbs wearing a $2,700,000.00 watch. Anyway, locals would assume you are wearing some weird Aliexpress crap.

      • Bozzor

        LOL! The scary thing is you are right about this amazing watch looking like something you got from a mail order house. A little sad that suburbs are not safe for a watch like this…but it’s a big wide world out there and I guess Sydney and Seattle may not be reflective of all typical suburban safety levels…

        • Omegaboy

          If you wore it in Seattle, you’d have the Seattle City Council following you down the street trying to figure out how they could tax you for it.

          • I just had dinner last night with a friend who is from Seattle and he said the city council wants to tax the largest corporations in the area more (because they can afford it) so the city can fund homeless projects. What a ghastly and unfair idea. Sounds like communism asking capitalism to bail it out.

          • Omegaboy

            What an excellent point!

          • Bozzor

            Seattle is still not as bad as San Francisco: a few months ago I walked into a clients site and my meeting start ran late: the guy walked in with stitches across his face, starting just below his right eye: some homeless meth addict had smashed a glass across his face, taken the keys to his M5 and made it about half a block before crashing into a barrier. That city is still beautiful in parts, but so filthy and dangerous in others and insanely expensive. And I have NEVER been to any major city where there is so much wealth, yet such absolutely crap roads. Honestly, smaller towns in Ukraine and Moldova are not much worse. You wonder where the tax money goes. But I digress: getting mugged for this watch would be a blessing, like someone trying to punch you but missing and knocking a dislocated shoulder back into place…

          • Berndt Norten

            If you take a walk
            They’ll tax your feet

      • wickets

        Thankfully(???) I read your comment because at first glance i had seen 2700.00 and was thinking, ‘wow, thats really cheap pricing for a fm piece” Anyway, I now see the error of my eyesight

  • Stuart MacKenzie
    • Lindsay

      I’m sure the Rolex Deepsea Challenge is thicker than that

  • Darh109

    Hell yeah!

  • Thanks David! This is a review I never thought I would see.

  • Buy and Sold

    This could be the only one ever made.

  • Jason

    unless i walked around with a magnifying glass, i would never be able to read any of these complications.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    It’s ridiculously big and ridiculously complicated…and i want it!

    • Horum Positivium

      Much like Dona;d Trump then…?

      • Raymond Wilkie

        I would describe Trump as a few things but complicated is not the first thing that springs to mind.

  • SuperStrapper

    So… why was a 10 year old watch travelling to a contemporary watch show? Did FM have a ‘special client’ in attendance that wanted to consider the piece? I cant imagine too many of them exist (Mega watches or serious customers for them).

    Also, David you mention this to be “…among the worlds most complicated…” whereas FM simply says it IS the worlds most complicated (on their site). I assume your broader language is respectful to other pieces that may require a similar amount of skill and time to complete despite maybe (certainly) not having this many ‘features’? I can certainly appreciate that “complicated” doesnt necessarily need to directly relate with the number of complications, and that other elements can carry their own gravity of complication. This movement is incredible but I’ve certainly seen better finished ones, and finishing to such a high degree is of course quite complicated. Or more artistic pieces with notably complicated techniques employed (such as the Charming Bird, etc).

    • David Bredan

      FM wasn’t among the exhibitors at SIHH, we saw this on the last day of our Geneva trip (the fair was already over then I believe).

      I think you have pretty much answered your own question there. I don’t consider the Hybris Mechanica trio less impressive (55 complications), even if it’s not all wrapped into one watch.

      There are a number of other watches with over 1,000 pieces (not only those with fusée and chain) and at that point I think we’re talking about a level of complexity where so few people can design and so few can assemble, that in my book I don’t find it just to call one “The” watch and the others as runner-ups… Especially when one can only gain theoretical right to “The” title by becoming largely unwearable.

  • BrJean

    I must say it’s a good-looking watch… if you look at it straight from the top. By the way I recommend to check out the recent article on Q&P about Superbia Humanitatis — outstanding timepiece in which development Franck Muller participated. I’ve never heard about it before which is strange because a watch with such an amazing history deserves wider recognition. https://quillandpad.com/2018/04/17/the-ongoing-history-of-the-superbia-humanitatis-watch-by-louis-elysee-piguet-franck-muller-and-paul-gerber-with-video-of-it-striking-time/

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b9b27bcc1144480feda7531fd23d769ad5635002b94880349a2378824bc076a3.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/aacd0ef9be904b6a0cb8bfd8c5fb5c38dded4e44890feefbb02c07b4aba67a91.jpg

    • David Bredan

      That is one absolutely fantastic watch.

  • It may look complicated but it is not.. You give me 5 years and I can do the same mechanism… But even if you give me 25 years i can’t design a G-shock with solar, gps, movement correction and many servo motors that they use. So a G Shock is more complex. Frank M cheated on this watch by using many many layers of gears(that is why the watch is so fat) … Nothing special… One layer… That would be special

    • Raymond Wilkie

      Jeez Rob. you’re a hard man to please! 🙂

    • BJ314

      you went full retard.

      • commentator bob

        Seriously, felt like I was reading a sponsored post.

    • Mikita

      You have some sense.

  • mtnsicl

    It looks like Invicta went wild!

  • Omegaboy

    Love, love, love, love it.

  • Bladeknight

    I wish the case was round. I’m not a fan of this shape 🙁

    • commentator bob

      The tonneau shape is Franck Muller’s thing. Just like Richard Mille.

      Unfortunately, even though Muller was doing it first, Mille did it better. At least according to the market and Jay-Z:

      “Had a Muller
      but I switched it for a Mille
      ‘cause I’m richer”

  • BNABOD

    “All you can eat buffet “ yes one can say that….. and while it is impressive to cram everything in one giant pancake it does not erase the fact that to me this watch is ugly as sin. So many protrusions, you could actually play saxophone with it.
    From a brand showing off your skills I see why this watch exist but that is about it.

  • ProJ

    Every possible feature (except for a kitchen sink) in a size that nearly matches a kitchen sink.

  • BJ314
  • Matt Rowe

    All that mechanical engineering brilliance and time…
    For an extremely delicate (I’m assuming here), nearly illegible piece of watchmaking.
    I’m glad stuff like this is being made, but what could those engineers accomplish that would help humanity (unless they donate some of the $$ from the sale of this thing when the day comes)?

  • Horum Positivium

    Regarding the size, I’ve seen bigger Hublots with ETAs in them; and regarding the complexity, just try setting the average G-Shock. Now the price is a little more of a problem.

  • Good dial side symmetry and still horrible to look at. And for over 2 mega bucks, I would have expected the movement finishing to be quite a bit better. No black polish on screws, not that much anglage, etc. SuperStrapper was right – the case has the size and shape of a toaster. Yes, I’m glad that it exists, but I wouldn’t want to wear it. Not even remotely a grail watch for me. But an interesting review to read – thanks David.

  • Rob Baron

    The reason that Franck Muller made this watch is the same reason that someone would drop $2.7 million on it: just to show everyone you can.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    I would strap this bad boy to my wrist, and i wouldn’t give a shit what anyone thought.

    • hatster

      Got to agree. Monster or creature of beauty, it is an incredible feat of engineering and design. Would love to see it in the flesh. Is the Bugatti Veyron of watches.

  • wolverbilly

    We live in shatteringly stupid times. It reminds me of some films I’ve worked on, where incredibly talented people busted their asses to do a perfect job, on a project that was ultimately a complete waste of “time.”

  • egznyc

    I appreciate the review. This looks so ridiculous on an ordinary sized wrist, like a large watch being worn by a toddler, except that it has some seriously crazy set of gears and stuff that goes whirrrr …… The number of pushers and doodads is only outshined by the number of hands and indicators. Fascinating and impressively complicated, yes, but who knows what time it is? One hot mess. To wear one would be to invite not just crime but ridicule – on account of its ridiculousness (so where can I get one? ;-).

    • I like that when it’s really 7:25 you read the time as “J” after “I”. Why or why did them even bother to put half of those numerals on the dial? Even worse is the “19” at the top of the dial.

      • egznyc

        Exactly!

  • HectorAsuipe

    That is…something.
    I smiled while reading the review and literally guffawed at the picture on the top of page 2. It’s like seeing some woman with an exotic face sitting in a cafe, and then she stands up and her size 22 bubble butt knocks over the neighboring table.
    Weird, grotesque, fabulous, alluring, freaky, and a few other indescribable qualities.

  • Richard Baptist

    As an engineering exercise – great, as a practical exercise – ridiculous

  • Jon Heinz

    I admire the Hell out of the tech involved, but it’s too much of everything there is to be too much of.

  • AGrogToSnatch

    Seriously? 2.7 million for that crap? Who would choose a Franck Muller over the Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime, the most complicated wristwatch ever made (2.6 million)?

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a3401769777e246fee5a78e639394801a93f9e24c8009bb975c4dd3d3fef0595.jpg
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/1c41392612c47edb88c2140ff20062b92952962849cfc5fe53f06e4a342626b2.jpg

    Patek shows us, how it´s done properly. Everyone can cram a bunch of complications and add a bit of finishing, but that doesn´t mean it will be a good watch (as this Franck Muller illustrates). In comparison to the Patek, this Franck Muller is just pathetic, considering that it offers less complications, a worse fit & finish, a thicker case, a horrible design, and a significantly higher price. Even the buckel of the Patek is superior:
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6b9dde235b848977ef8a017638aab3319b55f8cc5cbea9c4893ddfef25995f16.jpg

    Furthermore, despite of its complications, patek managed to keep the dial clean by adding another dial on the “caseback”, implementing an easy system to switch dials: https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/2bbfd9869f80546545dde0ca3593f6e377559e1a6e35924d4194eba370c918fe.jpg
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4541cb52f43f0558a98709a968c2903d5eec4818e220d2056a9ef1e7520ce3f9.jpg

    Goodbye, Franck Muller, your complicated timepieces could serve as a paperweight at best, and your simpler watches are so crappy I wouldn´t even feed my robot dogs with them:
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/479baa3625e61c5c4ba01fed9153c2e72ce4820003991b8b52d9953aa94af6e8.jpg

  • RL

    A watch for Chuck Norris…
    Citation (joke): “Chuck Norris threw a grenade and killed 50 people, then it exploded” or “Chuck Norris can lift up a chair with one hand… While he’s sitting on it…”

  • benjameshodges

    Haha I enjoyed this. I’m surprised tonneau cases aren’t more prevalent considering how comfortable they are in contouring to the wrist.

  • Polly Molly Moo

    Well that’s one way to get noticed! Mexican drug overlords, your watch is ready!

  • Ulysses31

    Someone at Franck Muller has been reading “Michael Bay’s Guide to Haute Horology”. It’s bloated and hideous.

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