Manufacture Royale’s Creative Spirit Of Enlightened Horology
The first incarnation of Manufacture Royale was founded during the Age of Enlightenment, in 1770, by French writer, poet, historian, and philosopher Voltaire (1694–1778), who was an outspoken advocate for freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and separation of church and state.
When it was relaunched in 2010, the modern incarnation of Manufacture Royale inherited Voltaire’s independent spirit: the aim was to create a brand ahead of its time while expressing the same sort of offbeat humor that the great poet was famous for.
Manufacture Royale’s “DNA” comprises three pillars. Freedom of thought and a “Voltairian” quirkiness make up the first pillar.
The second is the manufacture itself, TEC Ebauches, sister company of Manufacture Royale. This movement maker offers great flexibility and real independence to the brand as components and movements can be made internally. TEC Ebauches also provides movements for an array of other independent brands, some quite well known.
The third pillar is built upon family spirit. Manufacture Royale is a family-owned and -run company with no outside shareholder pressure. Nevertheless, the firm needs to be profitable to continue developing. Passion is a great engine, but cash is what makes companies grow.
Strongly based on its pillars, Manufacture Royale creates haute horlogerie timekeepers at relatively affordable prices.
Its 1770 Voltige flying tourbillon (see Why The Manufacture Royale 1770 Voltige Has No Need To “Humble Brag”) starts at 43,000 Swiss francs without taxes in stainless steel; it is powered by a truly 100 percent Swiss made movement with precise hand-finishing.
The 1770 Voltige goes for 27,000 Swiss francs. That’s not cheap by any means, but good value for a distinctive and original independent watch with in-house manufacture movement.
Manufacture Royal also offers top-of-the-line limited edition creations like the Micromégas 1770 double tourbillon with its hypnotic twin tourbillons, one making a full rotation in 6 seconds, the other in 60 seconds.
A family of experts in the watch industry
When Manufacture Royal was relaunched in 2010 by Arnaud Faivre, CEO of TEC Ebauches, it was focused more on production than marketing, distribution, and communication.
The arrival of Marc Guten and his cousins (Gérard, Alexis, and David Gouten) in 2013 refocused everything. Their combined experience of decades in the watch industry and their distribution networks proved vital to the company’s success.
Manufacture Royal is now profitable producing 150 to 180 timekeepers per year with the capacity to reach 900 or more in the long term. The brand is now building its brand awareness and opening new markets in the USA and Europe.
Asia was its first market, followed by the Middle East. It seems emerging markets are more responsive to independent watchmakers than the more mature, traditional markets.
In today’s somewhat gloomy economic outlook – there was another 9.7 percent drop in Swiss watch exports in May 2016, according to FHS statistics – Manufacture Royale’s creativity sustains growth and enables the brand to go beyond traditional distribution channels.
Retailers face great pressure from big groups and their cash flow is under considerable strain. Using social media, Manufacture Royale created alternative distribution networks through what it calls “ambassadors” and direct sales.
The brand attracts a younger market with the wealth and the desire to differentiate itself from elder watch aficionados, which are generally collectors of more established traditional brands. Typically, these new aficionados become “fans” on Facebook or Instagram, then customers, then eventually “ambassadors” that “promote” the brand among their peers.
Manufacture Royale is creating its own fine watchmaking culture . . . and this plan seems to be working – impressively, the brand announced a double-digit increase in sales in 2015, when the vast majority of brands had shrinking sales.
Perhaps that is at least partially owing to the Enlightenment Club the brand created, in which members share their passion and vision of luxury watchmaking. For Manufacture Royale and its “enlightened” members/fans/clients, true luxury is to own something exceptional, innovative, and different.
Manufacture Royale has managed to redefine serious watchmaking without taking itself too seriously.
Voltaire would have appreciated that, I am sure.
For more information, please visit www.manufacture-royale.com/1770. You might also enjoy Why The Manufacture Royale 1770 Voltige Has No Need To “Humble Brag.”
Quick Facts Micromégas 1770
Case: 45 mm, titanium
Movement: automatic Caliber MR04 with double tourbillon rotating at two speeds
Functions: hours, minutes
Price: 125,000 Swiss francs