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Manufacture Royale Opera

A few months before Baselworld I began organising meetings with many exciting watchmakers. Some I had written about before and others I had never featured on Total Watch Reviews. With a very limited amount of time at the fair I was keen to try on a diverse range of watches. Some of these timepieces are exceptionally exclusive and never reach boutiques. Therefore it was imperative that I actually got to wear these watches and take some decent wrist shots. Fortunately on this visit the brands were exceptionally accommodating and gave me access to their exquisite creations.


Back in late February I received an email from a lady called Margaret Pane, who is currently handling all public relations for Manufacture Royale in the US. Impressively Margaret has previously held senior managerial positions in companies like Roger Dubuis and Maîtres du Temps. After visiting my website she realised how interested I am in representing small independent watchmakers (as well as mainstream brands) and wanted to arrange a meeting on Manufacture Royale’s behalf. Fascinatingly French philosopher Voltaire originally established Manufacture Royale in 1771. The original business only survived for 20 years and specialized in producing watches for social elite. In 2010 the brand name was revived and is now owned by three cousins (David Gouten, Alexis Gouten and Marc Guten).


After a fantastic presentation from Margaret Pane I was allowed access to watches from both the 1770 and Androgyne range. Although these timepieces are beautiful I was captivated by the Opera. Initially Manufacture Royale were reluctant for me to try on this amazing piece but after a bit of gentle persuasion they kindly agreed. Dimensionally the watch has a diameter of 50mm and when unfolded must be at least 60mm thick. Surprisingly for a timepiece of this size it sat very comfortably on the wrist and felt fairly lightweight. Ultimately this is down to the innovative concertina case design and choice of luxurious 18-karat gold in production. Realistically a watch of this magnitude would only be reserved for the most special occasions and not daily usage.


Visually the Opera has the most magnificent façade and is unlike any other timepiece I have ever seen. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if this sublime timepiece became a museum piece in the future. The watch design is inspired by the contours of the iconic Opera house in Sydney, Australia. I was fortunate enough to visit this glorious building a few years ago with my family and I feel this watch is sympathetic to the design, especially when the case is unfolded. Other features include a sensational skeleton dial, polished gold hands, exposed rotating tourbillon carriage and wonderful articulated lugs. Overall I love the Steampunk appearance and feel the finishing is unsurpassed.


Beneath the opulent exterior lies a sophisticated in house manual winding tourbillon movement. The Calibre MR01 comprises 29-jewels and oscillates at a frequency of 21,600 vibrations per hour (3Hz). Each of the mechanisms 319 individual components have been decorated, brushed, polished and assembled by hand. This entire splendor is visibly showcased through the sapphire crystal exhibition case back. Functionally the Opera features a minute repeater, hours and minutes. The timepiece also has an impressive power reserve of 108 hours.


Currently Manufacture Royale only produce about three of these exquisite watches a year, so they are highly exclusive. The Opera has a handcrafted black alligator strap with matching 18-karat gold pin buckle. Priced for the serious collector at: $423,500.


For more information about Manufacture Royale visit the company’s website: http://www.manufacture-royale.com

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