Manufacture Royale ADN Spirit

The Manufacture Royale ADN Spirit is a contemporary openworked watch featuring a hand-wound movement. The Swiss brand has set aside traditional skeletonisation techniques and embraced modernity using 5-axis CNC machines.

This detailed review of the Manufacture Royale ADN Spirit includes numerous images, specification details and pricing.

Manufacture Royale ADN Spirit

A few days ago I attended an event. During the evening, a magician meandered through the room performing tricks. I am old enough to realise there is no such thing as magic and I know that someone practising sleight of hand is termed an ‘illusionist’. Like my fellow onlookers I watched coins seemingly appear from nowhere and thereafter disappear. I then spent much time pondering how each trick was performed.

My point is that most of us are naturally inquisitive, we want to understand how things work. The beauty of an openworked watch is that it shares many of its secrets. Few parts are hidden from view. The mechanical thought processes are freely disclosed.

Manufacture Royale has recently unveiled a new timepiece, the ADN Spirit, which reveals many of its constituent parts for the delectation of horophiles. Aesthetically, it shares a family likeness with its older siblings, the Androgyne and the Opera, however, overall it looks resolutely fresh and new.

The dial

The Manufacture Royale ADN Spirit is offered in various colourways, including blue, khaki and a brooding shade of black. Unlike some the delicate, filigreed brightwork found on many skeletonised watches, the openworked bridges on the ADN Spirit exhibit a purposeful, sturdy appearance. Each of the bridges are treated with CVD, infuse with one of the aforementioned colours.

Manufacture Royale ADN Spirit

The time is expressed with openworked hour and minute hands. A small seconds display sits at 9 o’clock. Arabic numerals, incorporating a modern font, are positioned at 6 o’clock and noon. These numerals, together with indices at 3 and 9 o’clock, glow in dim light. In addition, the screw-heads securing the bezel also act as indices.

Positioned at the top of the dial, supported by an arc-shaped bridge, is an openworked spring barrel. Its surface eschews much metal, allowing the wearer to view the mainspring in various states of tension. The space between the aforementioned bridge and the flange is covered with a blue transparent panel, irrespective of the model selected.

Manufacture Royale ADN Spirit

An arcing balance bridge is situated at 6 o’clock. Again, positioned between the bridge and the flange, a blue tinted panel spans the void, adding a cheerful soupçon of colour. The blue glazing at 6 and 12 o’clock confers a wonderful balance to the vista.

The large central bridge straddling the dial looks substantial but still allows sight of the various movement components. For example, a small section of the winding stem and the castle wheel can be seen. In addition, the hour wheel and minute wheel are revealed at the centre of the dial. Between 7 and 8 o’clock, the escape wheel is visible and the adjacent pallet lever can be seen industriously nodding. This is a fabulous watch for mechanically curious minds. Irrespective of which colour is selected, the contrast between the hands and the CVD treated beams provides excellent readability.

The case

The shape of the Manufacture Royale ADN Spirit looks very similar to the existing Androgyne, albeit the newer watch is larger, measuring 46mm in diameter. Despite its scale, the ADN Spirit proves comfortable to wear. The reason for this ergonomic excellence relates to the lugs. In their relaxed state the straight lugs form a 23° angle with the caseband. However, they are also articulated, allowing the strap to freely move and envelop the wrist. It is the mobility of the lugs which confers ‘optimal wearer comfort’.

Manufacture Royale ADN Spirit

The case in gleaming stainless steel or discreet DLC treated steel. With this latter option, the caseband and lug assembly are made of forged carbon. The marbled appearance of the forged carbon imbues the watch with a fascinating character.

Both the caseband (brancards) and the lugs are of tubular construction, further differentiating the watch from many of its contemporaries. Indeed, I cannot think of any other timepieces, other than alternative Manufacture Royale models, which look like the ADN Spirit.

The movement

The hand-wound Caliber MR010 movement is visible via the exhibition caseback. The skeletonised mainplate is treated with coloured CVD and brims with modernity.

Manufacture Royale ADN Spirit

The silver tone of the screws and the transmission and ratchet wheels provide an agreeable contrast with the CVD treated mainplate. Both the transmission and ratchet wheels are adorned with a sunray motif. Personally, I adore the sight of the circular grained gear train wheels, the rim of the screwed balance and the escape wheel.

Manufacture Royale has equipped the ADN Spirit with a variable-inertia balance featuring screws on the rim of the balance wheel. Because the effective length of the balance spring never changes and the hairspring is not nipped by an index adjuster, the spring breathes better, delivering greater precision. Furthermore, the balance is less susceptible to positional errors.

Manufacture Royale ADN Spirit

The balance has a frequency of 28,800 VpH (4Hz) and the movement contains 21 jewels. The spring barrel is capable of storing sufficient energy to deliver 48 hours of autonomy.

Closing remarks

In the world of high-end watchmaking, the best practitioners usually use fret saws to remove extraneous material from the mainplate to form a skeletonised watch. With the Manufacture Royale ADN Spirit, the Maison from Vallorbe has used 5-axis CNC machines to create intricately formed bridges. Each of these bridges incorporates different levels, resulting in a striking three dimensional aesthetic.

Manufacture Royale ADN Spirit

While this modern take on openworking is very different from historical methods, it continues to bestow views of many movement components typically hidden by behind a solid dial and caseback. The Manufacture Royale ADN Spirit should sate the foibles of horological voyeurs.

The Swiss company has cleverly used colour to enhance visual appeal and provide sufficient contrast to facilitate ease of read-off. All three variants I have seen provide excellent legibility.

Measuring 46mm in diameter, with a case thickness of 12.35mm, the Manufacture Royale ADN Spirit is a horological leviathan. However, the intelligently designed lugs, with their ability to articulate, invite the strap to comfortably embrace the wrist. It is this aspect which makes it a viable timepiece for many would-be wearers.

With the advent of the ADN Spirit, Manufacture Royale has, once again, shown its capacity to deliver something modern and inspired. Indeed, its strapline, ‘enlightened horology’ seems most apt.

Further reading

Technical specifications

  • Model: Manufacture Royale ADN Spirit
  • Case: Stainless steel or steel-DLC with forged carbon; diameter 46mm; height 12.35mm; sapphire crystal to front and case-back; water resistant to 3 ATM (30 metres).
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds
  • Movement: Caliber MR010; hand-wound movement; frequency 28,800 vph (4Hz); 21 jewels; power reserve = 48 hours
  • Strap: Alligator or Néburtec
  • Price: CHF 25,500 (steel) and CHF 29,900 (steel-DLC with forged carbon) (Prices as at 21.9.2018)