One of the new releases from Swiss Manufacture Royale is the 1770 Micromegas collection which is the first ever (that I know of) dual tourbillon watch where the tourbillons spin at different rates. The dial offers the time and a display for the two tourbillons that sit side by side over 6 o’clock. One spins at a relatively rapid pace, making a full rotation each 6 seconds, and the other tourbillon is more traditional in its rate, making a full rotation each 60 seconds.
Visually, the Manufacture Royale 1770 Micromegas is very interesting as well as unique. The brand’s signature “odd” design ethos is getting a bit more mainstream, but I like that they are still doing things differently. I’ve always sort of placed them in the same aesthetic category as Louis Moinet, but I do feel that the finishing and quality of Manufacture Royale is a lot better – and they also reportedly happen to produce in-house movements, which is a big plus for collectors.
“Micromegas” literally means “small large” and comes from the name of a short story written by Voltaire in 1752. Voltaire was a French philosopher, but he was also an aspiring businessman and actually started a watch company in Ferney, France meant to compete with the watchmaker in Geneva. It was in 1770 when Voltaire’s first watch was produced and he died in 1778, while the company survived for a few years after his death.
The entire Manufacture Royale brand of today is actually inspired by Voltaire’s watch aspirations from the 18th century. There is a fascinating article on this here on Watch Around. Anyhow, while the Manufacture Royale 1770 Micromegas watch doesn’t directly have anything to do with the story (aside from the loose connection of the slower and faster tourbillons being the “micromegas” elements), the story is an interesting early form of science fiction that of course blends in a lot of political and social philosophy.
Getting back to these new-for-2015 watches, there is a lot to like for the enterprising and well-funded watch collector. Initially, the Manufacture Royale 1770 Micromegas watches will come in three variants, being either in a fully titanium case, titanium and 18k rose gold case, or a full 18k rose gold case – with different colored dials. For the truly courageous watch lover, I highly suggest the orange-dialed Manufacture Royale 1770 Micromegas watch in titanium and 18k rose gold case with the matching orange-colored alligator strap.
At 45mm wide and 11.8mm thick, the timepiece’s case is not simple, but is much more traditional compared to most other Manufacture Royale watches. The bezel does remind me a bit of those from De Witt – which is not a bad thing. Even though tough the Manufacture Royale 1770 Micromegas dial is original, it feels simple compared to the larger theme of the watch, but it is growing on me. The design of the open window for tourbillon-style regulators is also interesting and perhaps one of my favorite elements.
Yes, it is true that from a performance perspective, the tourbillons do not add anything to the Manufacture Royale 1770 Micromegas’ accuracy or dependability. Most serious watch lovers know this, and it is a testament to the brand that they don’t try to pass the tourbillons off as anything more than a fascinating exercise in horological art – which they certainly are.
Inside the Manufacture Royale 1770 Micromegas watch is the Manufacture Royale caliber MR04 automatic movement which has 80 hours of power reserve operating at 3Hz (21,600). The regulators use silicon escapement wheels and pallet forks, while, as I said earlier, one tourbillon spins each six seconds while the other spins each 60 seconds. Aside from the dual tourbillons, the movement indicates only the time with those cool looking blued titanium hands.
The all-18k rose gold Manufacture Royale 1770 Micromegas watch has a white inner dial, while the two-tone gold and titanium has an orange dial, and the all-titanium model has a blue inner dial. According to Manufacture Royal, this colored inner section is in titanium (with a “rubber-effect lacquer”) but is also applied with SuperLumiNova. That means darkness viewing, but given that the hands themselves are not lumed, I would have to personally see this watch in the dark to fully appreciate its “night-viewing capabilities.”
While these timepieces aren’t cheap, they are unique, and that is, I suppose, what you are paying for when it comes to exclusive toys of this nature. Check out the video above if you haven’t already to see what two tourbillons running at different rates looks like. Prices for the Manufacture Royale 1770 Micromegas watches are $151,000 in titanium, $163,000 in titanium and 18k rose gold, and $181,500 in all 18k rose gold. manufacture-royale.com