Manufacture Royale Androgyne

Angus Davies reviews the Manufacture Royale Androgyne, a watch which repeatedly proposes conflicting ideas that congregate together, bestowing a unique and harmonious horological composition.

This detailed review of the Manufacture Royale Androgyne includes live images, specification details and pricing.

Manufacture Royale Androgyne - watch review by ESCAPEMENT

A good friend of mine often remarks that to be truly at peace, a man should have both a well developed masculine and feminine side to his character. His argument is based on the premise that both sides of the brain need to work in harmony to impart a sense of wellbeing.

Over the years, despite being heterosexual and having two children, I have always felt at ease in female company. Conversations about children, fashion and general gossip have always proffered more interest to me than discussions of beer and football.

It is arguably when we have two contrasting entities, a yin and yang, that a wholeness is conferred.

The ‘Androgyne’ from Manufacture Royale, the Swiss watch brand from Vallorbe, is an intriguing choice of name. The nomenclature suggests that its form neither subscribes to male or female roles. This watch interestingly toys with the customary classifications employed within watchmaking and provokes thought.

Manufacture Royale Androgyne - watch review by ESCAPEMENT

The round case is framed with straight structural forms, blending maternal and paternal forms together in stylish union. Some elements of the design, such as the tourbillon bridge, appear classical and sit alongside contemporary parts such as the fascinating floating lugs. The traditional screwed balance wheel presents an intriguing juxtaposition with the state of the art silicon escapement. Indeed, wherever the eyes choose to dwell, contrasting components are freely disclosed.

I have always exhibited an enquiring temperament and the opportunity to become closely acquainted with the Manufacture Royale Androgyne proved a tempting proposition I could not resist.

Open-worked dial

The open-worked dial reveals the inner thought processes of the movement within. The hands are bold, increasing in width along their long sumptuous forms then narrowing sharply near their tips.

Manufacture Royale Androgyne - watch review by ESCAPEMENT

Two bridges dominate the circular framed vista of the Androgyne’s dial. The upper bridge spans the spring barrel, whilst the lower bridge traverses the tourbillon cage. Each bridge is exquisitely executed with hand-finished, polished chamfers which sparkle sublimely in ambient light.

The tourbillon cage makes one full rotation every 60 seconds. The brass-coloured screwed balance wheel sits adjacent the indigo coloured escape wheel. The parts are not only functional but exhibit a lustrous beauty.

Manufacture Royale, whilst embracing neoteric ideas, has not ignored the finest craftsmanship synonymous with traditional Swiss watchmaking. The wheels are circular grained and perlage can be seen on the reverse of the lower tourbillon bridge.

A shield-shape cartouche sits at 9 o’clock and is retained with three screws.

The open-worked winding stem is captivating. However, in my opinion, the pièce de résistance is the spring barrel, sans cover, which reveals the exposed mainspring.

The design language of this watch is beguiling. It seduces the wearer by drawing inquisitive eyes ever closer to each micro component revealed, connecting the observer with the mechanical parts industriously at play.

The case

The case measures 43mm in diameter with a thickness of 10.2mm. It successfully fuses both circular and straight lines. The inner case has 12 screws populating its bezel, imparting a sense of strength and robustness.

Manufacture Royale Androgyne - watch review by ESCAPEMENT

Hugging the circular form of the case, are two straight sections of metalwork, arranged in parallel and held steadfast with perpendicular tubes positioned between the horns. On one hand everything appears ultra robust and yet the lugs are articulated, conferring a gentle, cosseting embrace.

Manufacture Royale Androgyne - watch review by ESCAPEMENT

Manufacture Royale Androgyne - watch review by ESCAPEMENT

Prospective purchasers are offered a choice of case,  either18-carat rose gold or steel. Furthermore, the latter is offered in highly polished, black PVD coated or sandblasted variants. Once again, Manufacture Royale fuel cerebration. On one hand, I adore the cheerful, overt charms of the 18-carat rose gold version and feel helpless to resist its femme fatale advances. Conversely, the sandblasted steel variant, entices me close to its subtle, non-threatening muted mien. Both watches exhibit very different personalities and appeal to disparate traits of my own psyche.

Manufacture Royale Androgyne - watch review by ESCAPEMENT

The hand-sewn alligator strap befits a watch of this station, exuding a luxurious tactility that usurps the comparative pedestrian quality of a calf-leather strap. The strap is partnered with a pin buckle, presented in matching metal.

The rear of the watch

Typically the dial of a watch is the face it presents to the world and the dorsal flank of the timepiece is hidden from view. However, the rear of the Androgyne is equally attractive and demands to be seen via the exhibition caseback. Indeed, I would perfectly understand if an owner chose to the wear the watch with the caseback uppermost on the wrist.

Manufacture Royale Androgyne - watch review by ESCAPEMENT

Manufacture Royale Androgyne - watch review by ESCAPEMENT

The bridges are decorated with Côtes de Genève rayonnantes. Each line of this motif is perfectly defined and distilled to a very high standard. The ruthenium coated bridges sparkle resplendently, especially on the polished chamfers.

Manufacture Royale Androgyne - watch review by ESCAPEMENT

Manufacture Royale Androgyne - watch review by ESCAPEMENT

The finissage of the hand-wound, in-house Calibre MR02 is exemplary and shows no signs of compromise or concessions to expedience. This is a paragon of haute horlogerie.

Closing remarks

Closed minds will confine their views of the world within narrow parameters. I suspect this is often based on fear of the unknown or innate ignorance.

François-Marie Arouet, better known as ‘Voltaire’, was a key exponent of the ‘Age of Enlightenment’, promoting tolerance and free expression.

In 1770, in Ferney, a French enclave close to Geneva, Voltaire established a watchmaking business named ‘Manufacture Royale’. It crafted fine timepieces for royalty and the social elite. Shortly after Volataire’s death in 1778, the company disappeared from view for over 200 years. In 2010, the company Manufacture Royale was reborn, arousing interest among the cognoscenti with examples of its ‘enlightened horology’.

This small independent brand has sought its own unique path to enlightenment, combining technical prowess, individual and engaging aesthetics with very keen pricing.

The gold case model is priced at CHF 65,000 and the steel case variant sells for CHF 42,900. These figures, whilst not inconsequential sums, confer incredible value bearing in mind the complexity of the movements, the level of finishing and the exclusivity Manufacture Royale ownership confers.

The Manufacture Royale Androgyne elicits a myriad of opinions, courtesy of the plethora of facets employed in its creation and the numerous attributes which inhabit its pulchritudinous form. It masterfully embraces seemingly contradictory ideas that charmingly coalesce in harmonious accord. Indeed, it reinforces the informed opinion that being in touch with both sides of the brain will always bestow an inner peace.

Technical Specification

  • Model: Manufacture Royale Androgyne
  • Case: 18-carat rose gold or stainless steel; diameter 43.00mm; height 10.20mm; sapphire crystal to front and caseback.
  • Functions: Hours; minutes.
  • Movement: Calibre MR02, hand-wound movement; frequency 21,600 vph (3 Hz); 17 jewels; power reserve minimum 108 hours; 178 parts.
  • Strap: Hand-crafted, rolled-edge alligator leather strap, presented on matching pin buckle.
  • Prices: CHF 65,000 – 18-carat rose gold /  CHF 42,900 – sand blasted steel case (RRP as at 12.10.2015)

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