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Manufacture Royale Opera Time-Piece Watch

Manufacture Royale Opera Time-Piece Watch Watch Releases

Beat me with a stick! I just had to plod through Manufacture Royale’s nine page long bloody press release – only to have reasserted what they mention in the first few lines; that they are “unashamedly elitist.” Wipe my brow and hand me an ol’ timey hallucinogenic absinthe, because I need to lay back in a hammock on a steamship and read some Jules Verne to appreciate this steampunk mechanaut.

Oh how right it would be for the good people behind the conception of this watch to redo their text and branding on the watch. It is a cool thing, and the overgrown child in my loves this oddity – but they really need to take it down a few notches. I kid you not: in a nutshell, the brand would have you believe that this watch not only sets the bar upon which all future watches must be judged, but also claims that according to the designer this watch release is one step closer to realizing a dream of utopia. Please calmly take an axe to my forehead – for I cannot believe this.

Manufacture Royale Opera Time-Piece Watch Watch Releases

Ok, let’s get back to the subject at hand. Manufacture Royale takes inspiration from Voltaire. Yes, that Voltaire – a man that at one point they refer to as the “Super Salesman.” They should have just called the watch “Voltaire.” That would have been better than making it look like a wrist catapult and for some reason calling it the Opera (well it does have a minute repeater complication).

It also appears that Manufacture Royale (with cheese), has been influenced by the designs of fellow watch brand Louis Moinet. Both seem to be focused on the “age of enlightenment” (and limitless coffers). Another nod to fantasy is the Manufacture Royale logo. Above the “MR” letter is a curved line with the handle of a sword coming out of it. This is the sword in the stone – Excalibur from Arthurian legend. Make of this what you will. I just smile and think of the Disney cartoon. Does Merlin come with the watch? Perhaps a little Archimedes? Owls seem to be really “in” right now.

Manufacture Royale Opera Time-Piece Watch Watch Releases

The Opera Time-Piece (how MR officially calls it) contains a brand new movement that is manually wound, has a tourbillon and a minute repeater. It was designed by the good people at Fabrique du Temps. Built of 319 parts, the movement is quite nice looking. I do enjoy the silicon escapement, and the combo of brass in various tones and finishes. Makes for a very rich look. While nicely conceived, it is not quite as unique as the watch case, but is still quite attractive. Power reserve is said to be in excess of 100 hours. Plus, the minute repeater plays the hours in A, and the minute in C sharp.

Manufacture Royale Opera Time-Piece Watch Watch Releases

Manufacture Royale Opera Time-Piece Watch Watch Releases

Now comes the interesting part. See how the case opens up like the bellows of an accordion? This unique design feature is made to create a resonance cage/chamber to allow for the minute repeater to sound more lively. The unfortunate reality is that the complexity of many minute repeaters is diminished by the tinny sound they make after being cased in a watch. The modern needs of a watch with water resistance (as well as the desire for precious metals that absorb sound) has made it a challenge for watch designers to come up with cases that adequately allow for minute repeater complications to sound decent. For Manufacture Royale had to convince engineers to develop this ultra complex style of articulating case. We can call it the “Beetle shell watch case.”

Manufacture Royale Opera Time-Piece Watch Watch Releases

The watch case itself is 50mm wide done in 18k rose and gray gold. It has three sapphire crystals and 60 pieces in its construction. Everything about this watch is crazy. It is weird and wonderful. Ugly and beautiful. A novelty for true collectors, only 12 of these watches will be made – making way for other future Manufacture Royal watches. I really do appreciate the audacity of the men behind this watch and brand. There is a hefty amount of silliness here. They make little attempt to hide the fact that this is one eternally ostentatious toy. The watch comes in a veneered wooden box that is said to be a reproduction of the Bastille Opera House in Paris. In case you didn’t detect it yet, the French are behind this timepiece. The price you ask? Well in Manufacture Royale’s own words “just like the product – exceptional.” And they aren’t lying…. $1,200,000. My consumer gland just had an aneurysm.

Manufacture Royale Opera Time-Piece Watch Watch Releases

Case materials and finishing:
-Folding/unfolding case in patented 18 carat gray or rose gold. 3 sapphire crystals.
-Moveable transparent back. Screws and axles in 18 carat gray or rose gold.
-Assembled and polished entirely by hand
-Individually numbered -Case dimensions 50mm in diameter -Number of components 60 -Crown 18 carat rose gold. Polished and diamond encrusted / Manufacture Royale logo hand-polished surface -Hands Hours and minutes in hand-polished 18 carat rose gold.
-Strap Hand sewn Mississippi alligator skin
-Buckle Hand-polished 18 carat rose and gray gold.

-Movement dimensions Height: 5.45 mm / Diameter: 32 mm
-Number of components 319
-Number of rubies 29
-Power reserve 108 hours
-Frequency 3Hz, 21,600 vibrations per hour
-Plates Brass with sunray brushing, polished angles
-Bridges Brass with sunray brushing, polished angles
-Entirely hand finished
-Bells/chimes Hours in A / Minutes in C sharp
-Tourbillon Escape wheel and anchors in silicon
-One rotation per minute
-Functions Hours, Minutes. Repeater (triggered by slide)
-Gears Counter gears and sound system NIHS 20-02
-Balance spring Flat
-Balance with screws



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  • Thank you for consistently saying what I think.


    PS. Any chance you could find out what watch Charlie Sheen had lifted by the “escort?” All I heard was that it was $165,000.

  • pat i.

    So Voltaire’s the inspiration for this watch, huh? I guess Rhinoceros p*nis woudn’t go over well in print.

    As I’ve said before – I’m a machine designer by trade. This watch falls somewhere between mechanical marvel and absurdity on stilts.

    My next watch design will be inspired by Ann Landers.

  • Thomai Serdari

    Dear Ariel,

    Let me just say once again how much I enjoy your writing. You make what could have been a technical piece a joy to read! Especially on Thanksgiving morning….
    Having just returned from Paris, where I had the opportunity to see the very large scale model of the Opera (the model is in the Musee d’Orsay), I see what they are trying to say.
    I will quote you here to say that where ” the case opens up like the bellows of an accordion” [is where the resemblance to the Paris Opera is most evident]. “This unique design feature is made to create a resonance cage/chamber to allow for the minute repeater to sound more lively.” And while a resonance chamber was not the intention in the original building, the space is indeed structured in such a way, particularly in the section that occupies the stage. There you have an accordion like structure that allows the stage to expand to infinity. And while I see the connection between the two objects, I agree with you that it is esoteric and intellectual. As such not the most pertinent explanation for a press release perhaps. Thank you for this delightful piece, it made think about the Opera and the model I just saw last week. You know by now that making connections between product design and architectural design is my type of thing….
    Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Glad you liked the wording Thomai, and thanks for the nice words yourself. Good additional info on the Opera house itself. Talk soon.

  • Kris C.


    The movement is quite attractive, but the case is insulting. I like the idea of making a better repeater, but with all that gold, those lush polished surfaces that collapse on one another will last about 10 minutes. I don’t care how much engineering prowess went into this, it’s gold we’re talking about – having those parts touching each other to open and close the “bellows” will result in a diminishing finish each and every time it happens.

    But, who cares? These 12 pieces will be sold before I finshing writing this sentance, and none of them will ever be worn I’m sure, aside from maybe that 1st time novelty; It must be pretty uncomfortable to wear. Looking at that last shot, if the case is 50mm, then that buckle is ridiculously big. I find rose gold to be quite garish, but at least the strap is brown; black would have put it on display like a circus freak.

    But most importantly, who let those hands get past the design phase? Terrible shape and size.

    But, what the hell – it’s the holidays and I’m nowhere near done my shopping, so I’ll take 3 of them.

    • Thomas

      Well said, Kris C!


    SLOPULENCE!!!!! Another travesty of time, designed for stuffed shirts who waste loads of cash on decadent self indulgences. If it’s allegedly all in-house, then how can it have an
    American, Mississippi alligator strap on board? They could have used French snailskins.

  • Seam

    $1,200,000?? Even the biggest cash thrower will not even consider…

  • Ariel,
    I can tell whether other commenters like this watch or not, but I can’t really tell whether or not you do. When you say, “It is weird and wonderful. Ugly and beautiful,” I’m left with he likes it… he likes it not… he likes it… he likes it not…


    • This isn’t a normal watch, so I don’t have normal feelings for it. I am just sort of dumbstruck by the whole thing. It is hard to separate the watch from the little fantasy the creators made for it.

  • Newsriffs

    I’m so glad the rich got a giant tax cut. That will create jobs. You probably have to hire a a few extra security guards if you walk around with a million dollar watch on your wrist.

  • Tony

    Gad. I’d love to squander a large fortune on one of these, but I’m still finishing off the payments on the mountainside retreat with the natural spring water, 500 acres of pines and the helicopter.

    Maybe in May.

  • R. Elgin

    It is an over-done piece of work.
    I think I enjoy reading the above comments — which are priceless — more than the watch.

  • this is very nice watch. i like this. how can i purchase this watch?
    pls tell me cost of the watch.

  • Kc Martin

    Little did I suspect a watch review could be so amusing, pithy, and relevant! You have helped me decide…I shan’t purchase the Manufacture Royale. With or without le cheese.