Over the last few years I been fortunate to write several books about horology. This is a subject that absolutely fascinates me because of the microengineering involved.

The last book I produced was entitled “Independent Watchmakers” and the contribution they have made to the industry. Within the last 15 years, watch design has progressed exponentially. In fact, companies like Cabestan, De Bethune, Louis Moinet, MB&F, and Urwerk were the catalyst for me launching my own blog. They also inspired a whole new wave of other microbrands like Franck Dubarry to create their own Avant-Garde designs.

For the “Independent Watchmakers” book, I wanted to ensure there was a diverse selection of timepieces. The project involved a lot of research. Some of the watches had never previously appeared in print. However, literally days before submission I discovered the Crazy Wheel by Franck Dubarry and felt it needed to be included. Fortunately, my publisher agreed. And the rest, as they say, is history.


Franck Dubarry Crazy Wheel

For those that are not familiar with Franck Dubarry, he was the owner and founder of TechnoMarine. Franck originally launched the brand in 1997 and after enjoying global success for a decade he sold his interests. Subsequently, Franck has developed and sold various different brands in many different industries. In 2015 decided to launch a luxury watchmaking company under his own name. One of my personal favorite models is the Crazy Wheel and I was very fortunate to get my hands on one. Certainly, when I first saw the watch in the metal it exceeded my expectations.

Presently the watch industry is saturated with generic brands that create timepieces with no real identity. That is why (as a designer) I was enticed by the Crazy Wheel because it is strikingly different. For example, the case has a distinctive architectural appearance and is devoid of lugs. This makes it very comfortable to wear and there is no friction at all. It is also exceptionally lightweight because of the choice of Grade 5 titanium in production.

Personally speaking this is one of my favorite materials because of structural qualities and matt grey aesthetic. Over the last few weeks, I have rigorously tested the Crazy Wheel at both casual gatherings and formal occasions. Certainly, for a watch measuring 43mm×50mm, it doesn’t feel cumbersome or bulky in any way.


The crazy wheel

When I first saw the Crazy Wheel it vaguely reminded me of the TNT Royal Retro by a brand called Pierre DeRoche. Mainly because both watches share is the three-dimensional multi-layered dial with additional mechanical modules. Additionally, they both have angular titanium cases. However, the TNT Royal Retro is much more expensive at around $25,000. You can purchase the Crazy Wheel CW-04-02 for $10,128. That’s a very competitive price for an exclusive watch of this type. When Franck Dubarry launched the brand he wanted to create relatively affordable Avant-Garde timepieces. With that model, I think he achieved his goal.

Aesthetically the Crazy Wheel CW-04-02 is a pretty striking timepiece. It is designed to make a very bold statement. Since I have been testing the watch I have received many compliments. However, if you prefer more traditional pieces, perhaps of a dressier style, this model might be too distinctive. In Adelaide, people are more familiar with brands like Omega, Rolex, Tag Heuer, etc. Certainly, these companies produce some beautiful watches, but I gravitate towards more contemporary designs. Essentially that is the main reason I was attracted to this watch.


What makes the Crazy Wheel CW-04-02 so special is the multi-layered satin-finished silver dial with exposed elements of the date wheel. Other features on this model include a vibrant blue chapter ring with contrasting yellow numerals and an aeronautical inspired minute hand. But nothing can top the three-dimensional Flying Hour Bridge (wheel). This amazing characteristic gives this watch a very expensive appearance normally reserved for Haute Horlogerie brands.


Technical expertise

When Franck Dubarry originally devised this concept he knew it would be challenging to execute. Therefore to achieve this feat of engineering he had to find a watchmaker with a high degree of technical expertise. That is why Dominique Renaud seemed a natural choice. This amazing watchmaker has produced movements for companies like Audemars Piguet, HYT, and Richard Mille.

Dominique opted to use a 25-jewel Soprod A10 self-winding mechanism as the base and then created an additional Flying Hour Bridge (360° rotating) module. Certainly, the attention to detail is meticulous and Perlage & Cotes de Geneve decoration is absolutely exquisite. As a perfect finishing touch the Crazy Wheel CW-04-02 I tested comes with a sporty 3D printed alligator pattern (Elastogator) black rubber strap. Learn more about the brand here.