From Voltaire to Vogue: How Manufacture Royale is Reshaping the Horological World

By Ted Christodulidis

From the first glance, it’s evident why Manufacture Royale decided to name this Micromegas model “Revolution,” considering everything on the face is in constant rotation. Between the hour hand, the skeleton minute desk, the two tourbillons (left making a six-second rotation and right making a sixty-second rotation) and the oscillating automatic rotor, the sleek-yet-de-synchronized movements all work in simple harmony; something which appears so effortless yet so complex, it seduces the eye with absolute ease.

The name “Micromegas,” translating from French as extra-small/extra-large, is derived from Voltaire’s 1752 short story about a giant with the same name and a dwarf from Saturn who traveled the universe in search of knowledge before finally arriving on Earth. Interestingly enough, while Voltaire was an acclaimed philosopher, he also moonlit as a businessman. Wanting to compete with watchmakers in Geneva, he established Manufacture Royale in 1770 just across the border in Ferney, France. Just eight years later, Voltaire would pass away with the company following suit shortly after. It wasn’t until 232 years later when Alex and David Gouten, cousins hailing from a long lineage of watchmaking, revived the company in order to pursue the heritage and spirit of Voltaire’s original goal: enlightenment.

Manufacture Royale initially drew inspiration from Voltaire’s story when creating the in-house built MR04 movement that powers the 1770 Micromegas. Although timepieces with multiple tourbillons existed long before this, none had a double flying tourbillon rotating at varying speeds; truly a first of its kind. With the Micromegas Revolution, Manufacture Royale has again introduced a revolutionarily exclusive movement: the calibre MR08. The upper dial reveals a medium-sized rotor mounted upon ceramic bearings, allowing for a direct view into the heart of the horological wonder.

Coming in much smaller than the Blancpain Villeret Carrousel and only equal to the Jaeger-LeCoultre Rendez-Vous Night & Day at 36mm in diameter and 8.7mm in thickness, the movement delivers an impressive 40 hours of reserve, meaning that removing it Friday night won’t equal a dead watch Monday morning. Available in both a titanium and rose gold finish, the watch also features a transparent caseback and a sapphire crystal sat atop the case. It has the ability to dive to depths of 30m and straps with a classic but beautiful hand-stitched alligator bracelet.

Co-Founder David Gouten was honest when he mentioned that the company has a long existence but not a long history. When Manufacture Royale set out to create the Micromega 1770 Royale, the goal was to pay homage to Voltaire’s vibrant beliefs. It’s safe to say that the timepiece is one the eccentric founder himself would be proud to don.