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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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