Manufacture Royale, the Swiss watch brand whose original incarnation was founded by 18th-century French philosopher Voltaire, has developed six entirely new mechanical movements since its “rebirth” in 2010. At this year’s Baselworld, the company launched its seventh, which debuts in the 1770 Haute Voltige, a luxury travelers’ watch with an easy-to-set, independent, second-time-zone feature.
The dial of the Manufacture Royale 1770 Haute Voltige has a multi-level design, with two sculpted bridges rising up on either side, the first one holding the raised balance wheel poised above the setting mechanism, the second anchoring the subdial for the second-time-zone display at another level. This unconventional, open construction allows a view of the balance wheel and escapement and also creates an interplay of light and shadows. The second-time-zone subdial at 5 o’clock has both an hour and minute hand, above a quilted guilloché pattern inside a satin-finished scale with a polished rim — a contrast to the sunray finish of the main dial. The main (reference) time is displayed in the center by the openworked hour and minute hands characteristic of the 1770 collection.
The movement — which has automatic winding, a 40-hour power reserve, and entirely hand-decorated plates and bridges — links the central hours-and-minutes display with the second-time-zone indication but allows each to be set independently with a few simple turns of the crown. The two-handed design 0f the subdial also means that it can be set to any time zone in the world, including those that vary from one’s home time zone by half-hours or quarter-hours rather than full hours. The movement’s decorations, including côtes de Genève finishing and 5N engraving on the plates, are visible through a clear caseback.
The case, made of black PVD micro-blasted steel, measures 45 mm in diameter and 13.8 mm thick and is water-resistant to 30 meters. Its grooved crown has hand-polished surfaces and a sanded back with a Manufacture Royale “MR” logo. In lieu of a conventional dial, the hour markers — in hand-polished gold — appear on the inner flange. Consistent with other watches in the 1770 collection, two lateral stretcher pieces, attached to the sides of the case by four screws and extending their full length, follow the curves of the case and taper to form the lugs at both ends.
The Manufacture Royale 1770 Haute Voltige, which is mounted on a hand-sewn black alligator strap with hand-polished, black-PVD-steel pin buckle, retails for $36,300. The company says it will also offer a rose-gold version for $52,800.