Manufacture Royale Androgyne Pure Glacier
Manufacture Royale is relatively new to the scene of independent watchmakers, having begun operation in 2010. Since then, the brand has positioned itself in the relatively crowded space by offering a number of models with brash aesthetics and, notably, beautifully designed in-house movements. One of these models, the Androgyne, distinctly symbolizes the brand’s unusual design ethos and commitment to technical dexterity.
Undoubtedly, the case is the first thing you’ll notice about the Androgyne. It is, shall we say, rather uniquely designed with 52 components in total, including a system of multi-part articulated lugs that are intended to conform to various wrist sizes. Seen here in PVD-coated, gunmetal-finish stainless steel, the 43 mm case is anything but discreet. But in all honestly, I doubt that discretion is of paramount concern to anyone interested in this watch – the Androgyne is meant to be worn and to be seen.
The unabashedly-designed cases could well be described as steampunk in appearance, with its articulated lugs and a bezel set with screws (that double as hour markers). The fact that you can see the nicely designed in-house movement through both the front and back of the watch adds to the industrial aesthetic.
While the Androgyne is far from a traditional wristwatch in terms of looks, its inner workings are crafted and assembled in an attractive way, with haute horology traditions in mind. Like Roger Dubuis, another manufacture with polarizing designs, Manufacture Royale is (perhaps unexpectedly) committed to using high-quality, in-house movements inside of its attention-getting watches.
A single barrel within Caliber MR02 offers 108 hours (about 4.5 days) of power reserve when the watch is fully wound.
Calibre MR02, the hand-wound movement inside the Androgyne, consists of 178 components and measures 30.9 mm in diameter by 6.26 mm in thickness. From a technical standpoint, the movement isn’t groundbreaking, but it is well constructed and detailed.
The brass plates feature Côtes de Genève finishing, observable through the sapphire crystal case back. Additionally, the bridges (which you can see directly from the dial-less face of the watch) feature a minimal sand-blasted finish, which is beautiful in its simplicity. The bridges are also outlined with hand-polished chamfers that contrast the sand-blasted finish in a modern and elegant fashion (even within this industrial-leaning design context).
The 2/3-plate construction of the movement and use of sapphire crystal on both sides of the watch facilitate the visually dynamic placement of a 60-second tourbillon. The bridges holding the tourbillon cage are attached to the movement at two points seemingly sandwiched between the mainplate and bridges (on the upper portion of the dial). As a result, the points of attachment are less pronounced, and the sand-blasted bridges with polished screws appear to float from the movement.
The Androgyne Pure Glacier is priced at $58,000.
Androgyne Origine in Rose Gold
This limited edition model features a fully skeletonized-movement, caliber MR06, with flying tourbillon.
This year, Manufacture Royale introduced a limited edition version of the Androgyne, with a rose-gold case and fully skeletonized in-house movement. The skeletonized components within the movement are coated in blackened ruthenium, and the result is stunning.
With the exception of its flying tourbillon, caliber MR06 is for the most part similar in concept to the movement used in the Androgyne Pure Glacier (and other bolder members of this product family). Beyond the similarity in architecture, the aesthetic is markedly different.
The skeletonized brass bridges and mainplate, with their black-ruthenium coating, form mesmerizing, reductionist links between the various components of the movement. For me, the movement design and aesthetics make a short list of the most attractive movements I have seen so far this year (which includes the comparatively complex caliber within Vacheron Constantin’s Harmony Ultra-Thin Grand Complication Chronograph).
As in the case of the Androgyne Pure Glacier above, there is nothing blocking the view of the movement from either side of the watch. But unlike that model, this limited edition has, thankfully, less room for branding. In lieu of the large trilateral shield with insignia normally positioned at 9 o’clock, the Manufacture Royale insignia is rendered here in a more proportional, homogeneously-sized type. Its positioning is more elegant as well, as it is relegated to a thin portion of the skeletonized bridge between 9 and 10 o’clock. The brand’s logo is applied separately, on a small trilateral shield positioned at 12 o’clock.
Beyond the precious metal used in its construction, the Androgyne Origine features the same visually-complex, 52-part case with articulating lugs featured in other models within this series.
The model name is inscribed on the side of the case, which measures 10.2 mm in thickness.
The Androgyne Origine in rose gold with skeletonized movement will be produced in a limited edition of 20 pieces, at a list price of $87,000. This model will also be produced with an alternate case in stainless steel with a black PVD-coating, limited to 45 pieces ($67,800.)
Each piece is individually numbered.
According to Manufacture Royale, its biggest markets are in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait – which are all, for the most part, established grounds for finding deep-pocketed collectors. That said, I am reluctant to say that these watches are for the nouveau riche, as the correlation between so-called old money and restrained, conservative tastes is not always direct. (For the record, the brand does offer a line of watches with uncomplicated round cases and actual dials.)
What Manufacture Royale does offer to its target market of well-heeled consumers, particularly in the case of the Androgyne, is a distinctive (albeit expensive) way to stridently say: “This is my taste, and it suits me just fine.”
For more information, visit Manufacture Royale online.