A graffiti artist goes to the metro station, chooses an expanse of wall in a stairwell, and creates an enormous colourful composition. Then a few days or weeks later, along come the municipal painters who repaint the wall. All that is left of the graffiti artist’s work is the stair handrail, still decorated with gaudy colours. This is the effect created by the ADN Street Art by Manufacture Royale.
It looks like a watch for our contemporary age, with an unusual geometrical architecture, and more emphasis on the visual, artistic content than the engineering. All you can see of the movement – calibre MR10, the brand’s tenth movement – is the flying tourbillon below, the mainspring above, and the manual winding assembly at the centre. The engineering is excellent, with the one-minute tourbillon mounted on silicone ball bearings that reduce friction to such an extent that from when the mainspring is fully wound, the movement will continue running for 108 hours, over 4 days.
Complex printing technique
How do you paint the bridges of a skeletonized movement? The composition is created on the computer, you print it on a special film which is then placed in water. The film dissolves, leaving the ink floating on the surface. Then you put the bridges into the water and the ink adheres to them. Each watch is an individual composition, with the art agreed with the customer. “The superfluous, a very necessary thing” said Voltaire, the philosopher to whom Manufacture Royale trace their identity.
The price of uniqueness
The result is very modern, or at least, a contemporary movement is placed in a traditional frame. In this instance, the work of art is framed by Manufacture Royale’s classic 46 mm steel case with mobile lugs, and a circular bezel. It has a rubber or leather strap with a folding buckle. The caseback is in sapphire crystal; no photo as yet. As a work of art, it’s quite pricey: 70,000 Swiss francs, $73,500.
When writing about Manufacture Royale watches it’s hard to resist searching for quotations by Voltaire. Watchmaking was only a sideline for him, and so he didn’t say much about that. Here is a quote that is completely irrelevant but illustrates his witty nature. “Anything that is too stupid to be spoken is sung.”