The world of high-end watchmaking is a tough one, especially if you happen to be an independent brand like Manufacture Royale.
Fortunately the brand’s new owners – watch industry veterans and brothers David and Marc Gouten – were not perturbed by the challenges that lay ahead of them when they took over the brand at the start of the year.
Bringing their collective years of experience to the fledgling brand they set about putting a new structure in place, freeing up Manufacture Royale’s original founder in the process and allowing him to go back to focusing on what he does best; developing and manufacturing superb mechanical movements.
The initial goal was to present a new timepiece at Baselworld 2014, which they successfully did earlier this year, two variations in fact. This was a critical step for Manufacture Royale because like many of the other independent brands they are hamstrung by a highly limited marketing budget and so they are heavy reliant on the press to help get their name out there. The best way to ensure this happens of course is by creating a timepiece worth talking about, which brings us to the new 1770 Collection.
The 1770 Collection
Now for those of you already familiar with Manufacture Royale you will no doubt be aware that the brand first made its mark with timepieces that can only be described as, well, outrageous. If you don’t know what I’m talking about then check out the Opera collection here and you’ll quickly see what I mean.
The new 1770 Collection retains some of this elaborate excessiveness but presents it in a far more subdued, understated way which I really like. Designed by Eric Giroud, the 1770 comes in a very wearable 43mm case, in your choice of either stainless steel or rose gold, and sits nicely on the wrist thanks in part to the two bumpers that hug the outside of the main case, curving in at each end to form the lugs.
Although not visible from the dial side when looking at the watch on the wrist this bumper style is a subtle design detail that has been carried over from the brand’s earlier Androgyne collection, which becomes more apparent when you look at the watch from the back. And given the high level of hand-finishing the Calibre MR03 has received – such as fine-sandblasted bridges and mainplate, both of which have also been hand-chamfered and black-polished with satin or perlage finish – it’s a safe bet you’re probably going to want to spend some time staring at the back. That is assuming of course that you can tear your eyes away from the one-minute flying tourbillon visible on the dial side.
To say that this tourbillon is a thing of beauty would be an understatement. Completely open-worked, not to mention over-sized, the level of detail that can be seen and appreciated with the naked eye is simply breathtaking. So much so that regardless of which model you choose you know Manufacture Royale’s 1770 is going to attract a lot of attention on the wrist, which is exactly what a small brand with no marketing budget needs to do.
Add to that the fact the MR03 movements offers 108 hours of power in reserve when fully wound – the remainder of which is tracked on the small power reserve indicator on the dial – and you’ve got yourself a very stylish, mechanically impressive timepiece. Not bad for a first watch produced within a very tight timeframe, not bad at all.
All versions are presented on an alligator leather strap with alligator lining and a pin buckle fastening. Pricing is set at US$48,000 for the steel versions and US$70,000 for the rose gold.
For more information on Manufacture Royale and the 1770 Collection please visit the brand’s official website here.
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