The Manufacture Royale 1770 Micromégas Revolution & Voltaire’s Interstellar Exploration (Live Photos + Videos)
A giant among giants, a colossus to men, Micromégas was far from his home near the star Sirius when he met a small Saturnian man that, though dwarfed nearly twenty times by Micromégas, showed considerable intellect and philosophical curiosity.
As the two talked at great length about their experiences and their differences, Micromégas realized that all great creatures around the universe shared certain truths.
For one, intelligent beings with a soul grew to experience the universe proportionately to their size. Where the Saturnians had 72 senses, the Sirians had nearly 1,000; where the Saturnians could see seven distinct colors, the Sirians could determine 39; and so on.
Lifespans varied greatly as well between the man from Saturn and the traveler from distant Sirius, as Saturnians live to about 15,000 earth years and Sirians about 10.5 million, which both agreed was much too short.
The titan Micromégas knew that no matter what the lifespan or how many senses a creature had, beings always wished for just a bit more. In his travels, Micromégas had met beings that lived much longer than he or the Saturnian and were also much more knowledgeable, yet these creatures lamented their short lives just the same as the pair did now.
It seemed natural of intelligent and curious beings to yearn for what was just out of reach, wishing for more than what the universe had bestowed upon them. And in that understanding, the truth of everything was that there was no truth, only what meaning beings give to the universe themselves. They must discover that meaning on their own.
Or at least that is what Voltaire wanted you to understand by the end of his short story.
You see, Voltaire was an accidental science fiction writer because he used the universe as an allegory for our world and our place in it. No matter your position, there would always be someone bigger or smaller and each could be equally or more intelligent.
His lesson was to practice humility but never stop exploring, questioning, and standing in amazement. Tolerance and discussion can take a person further in life than confidence in one’s superiority.
These are the takeaways from Voltaire’s Micromégas character and a fitting inspiration for a feisty independent brand like Manufacture Royale.
A purpose designed from within
Manufacture Royale is a long way from being among the biggest haute horlogerie brands, but nor is it one of the smallest. In Voltaire’s story, the Sirian and Saturnian discover humans while visiting earth and find that these beings, which are invisible to their naked eyes, possess great knowledge beyond their diminutive size.
This reminds us that size is not proportionate to knowledge and ability, and one must find one’s own meaning for life as it is not predestined by situation.
Manufacture Royale does this with its watches; it doesn’t seek to be a small brand that does small things or a big brand that does all and knows all, but a brand that is in charge of its own meaning and direction.
The new 1770 Micromégas Revolution is a clear example of this thinking.
While it is an evolution of the previous 1770 Micromégas with a cool new movement and a startling design change (and some have derided the design, while others have praised it) the underlying truth is that Manufacture Royale is creating its own meaning and doing so with purpose.
The new MR08 movement continues the dual tourbillon theme of the original Micromégas but branches off into a new style with skeletonization, a micro rotor, and regulator-inspired time display. And, of late, bright color.
The main aspect that has stayed the same is the inspiration: the pair of tourbillons beating at different frequencies and rotating at different rates at one revolution per minute versus 10.
While the movement remains basically the same, much of the rest has changed. First, the movement has been partly skeletonized, though it appears much more open due to the loss of a dial. Instead of cutting every bridge and plate to its smallest possible size, some holes have been added and a few bridges reduced in size, mostly surrounding the pair of tourbillons. The absence of a dial and a skeletonized minutes disk makes the movement feel on display and unfettered.
The tourbillons aren’t contained in dual windows like in the MR04 movement of the original Micromégas; instead they seem to extend from the movement’s bowels and hover inside like a pair of souls meeting.
This dance is mesmerizing, and while it used to be the main focus of its predecessor, the new Micromégas Revolution expands on this and creates a world of movement and rotation. Added to the top left of the movement is a micro rotor for automatic winding, eliminating the large rotor from the rear and freeing up space to view the MR08 movement.
The micro rotor (one of the best features that can be included on a fine piece of horology) adds a ton of visual depth to the already deep movement as it is thick to ensure enough mass to wind efficiently and maintain its 40 hours of power reserve.
Add to that the continuous movement seen from that micro rotor spinning and the Micromégas Revolution is a feast for the eyes. The changes continue this theme of movement and rotation, turning the dial into a regulator-inspired time display. As it lacks indication for seconds it is not a true regulator, but the minutes and hours are separated for added effect.
The minute disk is extremely skeletonized, so much so that the sight is actually a little hard to get used to at first.
The minute disk slowly rotates each hour, spinning just in front of a portion of the micro rotor and a portion of the only dial left on the Micromégas Revolution, the hour dial.
The minute disk actually covers a good third or more of the hour dial, though it can be seen through the skeletonization of the disk. However it does pretty much permanently cover the 5 and half of the 9, so there could be a bit of issue with legibility there.
The hour dial is squished against the edge of the case with a small section trimmed off and the numbers 1 and 2 replaced by the word “hours,” just in case you got so distracted by all the movement elsewhere that you forgot what that dial was for.
The hour dial is also the most “traditional” aspect of the Micromégas Revolution as it features the typical broad sword hand in blued steel or gold (depending on the case material) and a white base with contrasting numerals.
But as the hour dial is needed much less often, it is minimized in importance, much like the lifespans of the two travelers. Since the varied lifespans left beings wanting more, the long term was much less important than the here and now. Hence the two tourbillons to occupy your fascination.
I do feel that the hour dial was a missed opportunity, though, from a design and horology standpoint. I understand that complexity and packaging concerns are always important when designing a movement’s architecture, but this seems like a perfect place to add a jump hour to reduce the need to find the hour hand wandering around the small dial.
This would eliminate the overlapping dials issue and add even more horological value to the movement . Perhaps this is something the brand’s designers have thought of and might pursue (I hope because I do love jump hours).
Still, considering all the fun stuff to look at as is, that really would just be icing on the cake. The style of the Micromégas Revolution is decidedly more modern than even the original Micromégas with its ruthenium coating on all the bridges and plates, allowing the other moving parts to stand out.
The case style hasn’t changed, which makes me happy. I enjoy the suspended 1770 case with the separate brancards (stretchers) affixed to the side of the case. The sensuous curves are something that strikes a large difference from the Opera or Androgyne case styles, allowing such an awesome watch to be a bit more subtle in its extravagance. It is another way for Manufacture Royale to be what it wants to be and find its own truth for each watch.
The Micromégas Revolution is something placing Manufacture Royale in a new area of technical constructions, stepping away slightly from the highly stylized haute horology found in the Opera, Androgyne, and even the 1770 Flying Tourbillon.
The Voltige and the Micromégas Revolution liken the brand to other small independents doing technical constructions like Arnold & Son, but with its own flair and purpose originating out of the first Manufacture Royale watch, the Opera Minute Repeater.
I for one am very excited with the paths Manufacture Royale seems to be exploring. And as long as the exploration of its own universe continues, I will be happy to watch the journey.
While we gaze after them, how about that breakdown!
- Wowza Factor * 9.65 The twin tourbillons spinning at different rates and the rest of the time indications and micro rotor make for a wowza of a piece from a brand that already wows!
- Late Night Lust Appeal * 91.2 » 894.366 m/s2 The Micromégas Revolution has an uncanny ability to keep me up all night hoping and wishing that this watch will be mine one day.
- M.G.R. * 65.6 Okay, so two tourbillons that rotate in the same direction but at vastly different speeds, a regulator type time display, a micro rotor, and openworked bridges and plates – yup, that is a pretty geeky movement!
- Added-Functionitis * N/A At this point it’s almost rare to see a watch that is incredible that actually has added complications since so much is put into the outstanding movements. Still, I guess you can forgo the Gotta-HAVE-That cream even though it is radically cool.
- Ouch Outline * 11.4 That time the barber took a bit of your ear with your haircut! This hasn’t happened to me exactly, at least not losing a part of my ear, though I have been sliced my fair share of times. Yet, I think I might even accept losing the tip of my lobe for a chance to get this watch in my collection!
- Mermaid Moment * Six seconds or sixty seconds! Depending on which tourbillon you are gazing at, it might take different amounts of time to fall in love, but once it happens it’s all over. I hear the Plaza is free in March . . .
- Awesome Total * 814 Multiply the hours of power reserve (40) by the number seconds it takes for the mega tourbillon to revolve once (60), take the result and divide by the frequency in Hz of the mega tourbillon (3) and finally add the frequency in Hz of the micro tourbillon (4) and the seconds it takes that tourbillon to revolve once (10) and the result is one seriously awesome total!
For more information, please visit www.manufacture-royale.com/micromegas-revolution.
Case: 45 x 11.8 mm, titanium or red gold
Movement: automatic Caliber MR08 with 6-second and 60-second flying tourbillons
Functions: hours, minutes
Limitation: three pieces in each color (blue, purple, olive green)
Price: 142,000 Swiss francs in titanium, 164,000 Swiss francs in red gold
Also published on Medium.