Introducing Flying Back to the Future: Furlan Marri Swiss-made Mechanical Flyback Chronographs
Together with the world’s greatest watch collector Auro Montanari, Furlan Marri launches their first ever Swiss-made mechanical flyback chronographs in a series of three ravishing timepieces, including a special edition for Revolution, priced at CHF 2,750 excluding taxes.
For the last three years, the world has been swept up in a love affair for one of the hottest microbrands on the planet, Furlan Marri. The Cinderella story of how Andrea Furlan and Hamad Al Marri created their brand during the pandemic through Zoom, which then became a huge critical and commercial success, and in the same year won the Horological Revelation Award at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG), is now part of contemporary watch mythology. But since the first time I set eyes on Furlan Marri’s Japanese “mechaquartz” powered chronographs, I’ve asked myself one thing: What if this dynamic duo were to apply their unique brand of retro modern design genius to a fully Swiss-made mechanical chronograph?
Well, today I have the answer with not one, but three different stunning timepieces. And even better, this trilogy of time writers took shape with the guidance of one of the world’s greatest watch collectors and the most elegant individual in our community, the inimitable Auro Montanari.
Every once in a while, you meet a young person in the watch industry that you know is going to be an important part of the future. For me that person is Andrea Furlan.
Already what he and his partner, the wonderfully affable Hamad Al Marri, have done was unprecedented. They basically overcame the obstacles of the pandemic to conceptualize a watch brand, which went on to an incredible Kickstarter launch that allowed them to self-fund the creation of their eponymous brand. Then, in that same year, because they had perfectly tapped into the zeitgeist of accessible retro modernism better than anyone else, they went on to win the GPHG’s Horological Revelation Prize.
Anyone that has ever strapped a Furlan Marri chronograph onto their wrist cannot help but smile and be devastatingly charmed by this upstart watch brand, the horological equivalent of the “Little Engine That Could.” Because the design of the watches, their 38mm by 11.3mm in diameter size, led the charge back to classic sizes. Then there was the phenomenal contemporary riff on François Borgel’s chronograph case design made famous by — but not limited to — the iconic Patek Philippe reference 1463. Indeed, one look at Furlan Marri’s close-up image of their “Tasti Tondi” pushers on their Instagram, and I was irrevocably smitten. Finally, the quality-to-price ratio of their watches is the very best in our business.
Andrea is everything you want in a modern watch entrepreneur. He’s profoundly humble and understatedly confident, yet almost shy about his success. He is fiercely intelligent but soft-spoken and relentlessly hardworking. And though he will hate me for saying so, he’s also one of the most brilliant watch designers in our industry.
His watches which, when launched, cost a few hundred dollars, have transcended their price position and become the favorite wrist-borne accessories of even the world’s most astute collectors. Furlan Marri’s initial offering was a series of perfectly designed, vintage inflected, undeniably gorgeous yet affordable mechaquartz-driven chronographs boasting amusing sobriquets that one would expect from Quentin Tarantino’s movie characters. These included “Mr Grey,” winner of the GPHG award, “Laccato Nero” and “Tasti Tondi.” The watches simply seduced everyone. Unbeknownst to Furlan, one of the collectors who had developed a penchant for his timepieces was the legendary Auro Montanari, also known by his evocative nom de plume John Goldberger.
Conceptualizing the Watch
I recall two Geneva Watch Days ago seeking out Andrea in IceBergues, a public space rented out to small or independent brands during the major fairs. I asked him one question, “Andrea, would you like to meet Auro Montanari?”
Without hesitation, he replied by carefully placing his watches inside his travel roll and said, “Let’s go.” What you need to understand about Andrea Furlan’s character is that it is conditioned by two things — a relentless pursuit for perfection that enabled him to represent Switzerland at international athletic competitions including the Youth Olympic Games, and a huge respect for the individuals he considers mentors such as Dominique Renaud who, in a wonderfully poetic 360-circle of life, now collaborates with Andrea. As a boy, Furlan waited outside the Basel fair simply to greet industry legend Jean-Claude Biver and show him his drawings. While still a teenager, Andrea interned at Hublot, Chopard and HD3. While in his early 20s, Furlan, already a rising watch designer, moved to China to work as a production consultant. During his time there, he became aware of the high quality production available, which would later allow him to launch his accessibly priced brand. However, he and Hamad both insist on full transparency when it comes to where each component is made and where the watches are assembled.
By 2021, Furlan was well aware of Auro Montanari’s standing as an educator, collector ne plus ultra and statesman in our industry. As I introduced them to each other, Andrea politely asked if he could take a seat. Auro smiled broadly at him and said with his signature elegant economy of phrase, “I like what you do. I bought two of your watches.” Andrea could not help but smile too. With that, a great and sincere friendship between them began.
At that moment, I had a stroke of inspiration and said, “Gentlemen, would you consider a collaboration project together? What if we could make Furlan Marri’s very first fully mechanical chronographs together?”
Auro replied, “Why not?”
Andrea said, “I need to check with Hamad but I think so — yes.” Later that week, in my Geneva Old Town apartment, the pair, joined by Hamad and I, embarked on our adventure that resulted in the trilogy of watches that you see before you. These are Furlan Marri’s very first Swiss-made mechanical chronographs, and I am absolutely, unequivocally besotted by love for them.
Upping the Design Ante
The first thing you’ll notice about the new Furlan Marri Flyback Chronographs is that they feature an entirely new case shape designed specifically for this project. While the mechaquartz Furlan Marri chronos had stepped bezels, these watches feature a high polished, aggressively concave bezel. The shape of this is echoed in the lovely swooping compound curve of the lugs that race dramatically down to the wrist. Watching Montanari, Furlan and Marri discuss these details was thrilling to behold.
Said Marri, “Good watch design is like good car design. If you look at the master car designers like Pininfarina, you’ll often see this juxtaposition between a smooth organic curve and a sharp straight angle. The dynamic tension between these two creates a sense of velocity and energy to the shape.” This is what we really focused on with this case shape.
It was Montanari that came up with the svelte, curvilinear olive-shaped chronograph pushers used in two out of three of the models. He explained, “These are wonderful and rare styled pushers that no one today is using but [that] were popular with brands such as Breitling and Omega in the 1930s.” The one exception to this is the Revolution exclusive two-tone salmon dial watch, which feature my beloved Tasti Tondi pushers in deference to the very first image I ever saw on Furlan Marri’s Instagram page that made me fall in love with the brand.
The three different watches each feature different dials. First, there is the aforementioned two-tone salmon and black dial for our Revolution edition that comes with the Tasti Tondi pushers. Then there is a stunning blue dial with gold-colored text and olive-shaped pushers. And finally, a discreetly elegant and very charming taupe dial version with olive-shaped pushers. The salmon dial watch will be sold exclusively by Revolution, while the taupe dial watch will be sold exclusively by Furlan Marri, with us both retailing the blue dial watch. There will also be a small number of box sets of all three watches.
Throughout the process, Andrea and Hamad pushed themselves to radically elevate the quality of every component, from the case to the dial to the pushers to even the hands. Said Furlan, “We really took this as an opportunity to radically improve our quality. So, for example, instead of stamped hands, we decided to have all our hands CNC machined. This really improved the three-dimensionality, which, of course, made it more expensive to mirror polish them, but the end result was really worth it.”
Swiss-Made Mechanical Caliber AMT5100
The big news, however, is in the engine bay of the watches. Instead of the Seiko V64 mechaquartz movement inside a closed caseback, we now have a Sellita manual wind, column wheel activated flyback chronograph movement, the caliber AMT5100 measuring 30mm by 7mm in thickness.
Andrea said, “I went to Sellita when they were developing this all-new manual wind chronograph movement that would allow us to make a watch that was the classic size we wanted.” The final watch dimensions are 38mm in diameter (46mm lug to lug) by 13.2mm in thickness; these measurements include a domed sapphire crystal on the front of the watch and a sapphire display caseback. For the movement, we opted for Sellita’s highest level of finishing as well as a signature rose gold-plated finish complemented by a blued column wheel. While there is no doubt that Sellita is a purely industrial movement supplier, the finishing lived up even to Montanari’s scrutiny.
The prolific collector and author remarked that it was “not bad,” which I consider to be high praise coming from him. In the end, Andrea, perfectionist that he is, even designed the shape and skeletonized opening for the plate that sits over the chronograph train. He incorporated a micro-engraving of his brand’s slogan, “Crafted with care, designed for details,” on the plate surrounding the column wheel.
Furlan Marri Pièce Unique for Only Watch 2023
To me, this trilogy of mechanical chronographs is only one step in the journey of Furlan Marri as it blazes its inexorable path into its very bright future. One need only look at the incredible pièce unique timepiece for Only Watch that was created by Andrea and Hamad in collaboration with up-and-coming independent watchmaker Julien Tixier, and one of the industry’s greatest technical minds, Dominique Renaud, to understand the ambitions of this small but mighty brand.
The watch in question is not just a perpetual calendar — a complication which automatically compensates for the shifting 30/31-day rhythm of the months and knows that there are 28 days in February except in the leap year and adds it in accordingly. But it is, in fact, a secular perpetual calendar, which knows that the years divisible by 100 are not leap years, and thus it omits the leap day, but the years divided by 400 are leap years, so it adds the leap day back in.
One of the most well-known secular perpetual calendars appeared in none other than Patek Philippe’s incredible caliber 89, created to celebrate the maison’s 150th anniversary. In modern wristwatch history, the secular perpetual calendar has only been successfully implemented by Svend Andersen and Pierre-Michel Golay for Franck Muller’s Aeternitas Mega 4. However, at 39mm by 11.3mm in thickness, the Furlan Marri watch is not just incredibly wearable, but rumor has it that the brand intends to put the piece into production in the near future and make it more accessible than any other watch featuring this complication.
And that is one of the reasons I am so impressed with Andrea Furlan. I know that he and Hamad Al Marri have a limitless future in front of them. I’d like to think that our project revolving around Furlan Marri’s very first Swiss-made fully mechanical chronographs, made in a series of three stunning watches, will be a nice historical chronicle to the rise of this remarkable brand. I would like to thank the incredible Andrea Furlan, Hamad Al Marri and Auro Montanari for their collaboration. Gentlemen, it has been a pleasure and an honor.
These watches will be available on the Shop from 7 December, at 10PM SGT/ 3PM CET/ 9AM EST. Click here to buy.
FURLAN MARRI × AURO MONTANARI × REVOLUTION FLYBACK CHRONOGRAPHS
Ref: Honey BlueFlyback (Ref. 3199-A); Salmon Flyback (Ref. 3188-A); Taupe Flyback (Ref. 3177-A)
Movement: Manual winding Sellita caliber AMT5100, with rose gold plating and custom bridge for Furlan Marri; 58-hour power reserve; heated blued steel screws
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds and flyback chronograph
Case: 38mm (46mm from lug to lug); stainless steel with olive-shaped pushers for Honey Blue flyback, Taupe flyback and Tasti Tondi pushers for Salmon flyback; water resistant to 50m
Dial: Taupe, blue, or two-tone salmon and black (Revolution edition); double printed text with pulsations scale, polished applied indexes
Strap: Italian leather with quick release system
Price: CHF 2,750 excl. taxes
Availability: 270 pieces per reference + 30 collector boxes (including one of each references) in addition
MORE STORIES ABOUT FURLAN MARRI
FEATURED FROM SHOP
|Manual winding Sellita caliber AMT5100, with rose gold plating and custom bridge for Furlan Marri; 58-hour power reserve; heated blued steel screws
|Hours, minutes, small seconds and flyback chronograph
|38mm (46mm from lug to lug); stainless steel with olive-shaped pushers for Honey Blue flyback, Taupe flyback and Tasti Tondi pushers for Salmon flyback; water resistant to 50m
|Taupe, blue, or two-tone salmon and black (Revolution edition); double printed text with pulsations scale, polished applied indexes
|Italian leather with quick release system
|270 pieces per reference + 30 collector boxes (including one of each references) in addition.