Watches: Manufacture Royale 1770 Voltige

By Thierry Ané on July 22, 2015

If you are as much a fan of original and refined Haute Horlogerie as I am, chances are Swiss luxury brand Manufacture Royale has been under your radar for a while now. Just like me, you may appreciate the outstanding craftsmanship and unique aesthetic that go into each creation of this small Manufacture doing everything right to honour French philosopher Voltaire, the illustrious founder of the original Manufacture Royale.

With a resolutely modern appeal and a design like no other, the elegant Androgyne offers countless beautiful renditions, experimenting with materials like black DLC steel, bronze and every shade of gold. If you have classical tastes, the slender lines of the 1770 Flying Tourbillon, particularly in rose gold, are bound to speak to you. But even there, the use of a [115166 partially open-worked blue sunray dial] and stainless steel will remind you that elegance and modernity can be successfully combined.

Unfortunately, though, just like the rest of Manufacture Royale’s collection, these stunning timepieces all showcase a tourbillon escapement, immediately placing them in the high-end segment. Don’t get me wrong: with prices mainly in the CHF 50,000-75,000 bracket, those creations are an excellent value for money: they just remain out of reach for many watch enthusiasts yet sensitive to the refinement of this brand.

This month, at last, the brand has decided to offer them an opportunity to enter its exclusive world with the new 1770 Voltige, their very first model without a tourbillon! The absence of this symbol of Haute Horlogerie does not mean, however, that the watchmaking standards have been lowered in any way. Indeed, the self-winding MR05 calibre that animates this model has been developed and manufactured in-house with the same care as its predecessors. The sapphire crystal on the back reveals its magnificent decorations, entirely performed by hand in the purest standards of Fine Watchmaking.

Even on the technical side, this “time-only” model with small seconds remains extremely interesting due to the unusual position of its balance wheel. Indeed, the watch’s harmonic oscillator has been placed at the extreme end of a beautifully crafted stainless steel bridge that hangs high above the dial, creating a dramatic effect. “Voltige” or “aerobatics” in French is truly a well-deserved name for this timekeeper with a balance that seems in a state of levitation. The magnificent anthracite dial with sunray decoration, the original grid of the small seconds counter and the brand’s trademark sword-shaped skeleton hands are the additional touches that transform this watch’s dial into a work of art.

Crafted in stainless steel, the 45 mm case with a thickness of 13.80 mm retains the general design codes of the “1770” collection. Designed by Eric Giroud, it is held by two brancards adding sophistication and originality. They gently hug the slender sides of the case, extending beyond its middle to form the lugs. A hand-stitched alligator strap of the utmost quality and a large pin buckle perfect the look of this watch.

Despite all the attention that goes into this model, the newly unveiled 1770 Voltige carries an extremely reasonable price tag, CHF 27,000, finally making it possible for a larger audience of watch enthusiasts to enter the universe of Manufacture Royale. I am confident this timepiece will meet the success it fully deserves and truly hope that Manufacture Royale will continue to develop this “watch segment” while still making us dream with some of its more complicated creations…

For more information please visit the Manufacture Royale web site.

For a technical description of the timepiece and additional pictures: