Manufacture Royale Opera Minute Repeater Tourbillon
A watch of epic size, design, and functionality, with a case which can actually expand to create an acoustic chamber, the extraordinary Opera by Manufacture Royale is quite unlike any other. Outrageous yet highly technical and superbly constructed, this is a connoisseur’s collector’s piece, and a monument to Haute Horlogerie.
The Opera is not so much a watch in its conventional meaning, as a flamboyant showpiece for the company’s unique code of watchmaking. Inspired by the Sydney Opera House, it is aptly named, and the reason for that soon becomes apparent. Essentially this is a piece which is entirely designed around its most distinguished horologic complication, which has required a spectacular feat of precision engineering with distinct steampunk overtones,
One of watchmaking’s most accomplished complications is the minute repeater, which can be set to chime the passing of minutes, quarter hours and full hours, as tiny pointed hammers strike one or more circular gongs which run around the narrow confines between movement and case. It is a beautiful and sophisticated mechanism, and one which is held in the highest regard among watchmakers and collectors alike, but with virtually no space for the delicate sound to reverberate and develop within a case of dense precious metal, most of it never escapes, and that has always been the nature of the minute repeater.
In the Opera, Manufacture Royale has dispensed with the rules of case design, and it is obvious at first glance, as its round porthole-like body is borne on an elaborate chassis, which is hinged at one end and articulable at the other. Measuring an impressive 50mm in 18Kt rose gold, the Opera is certainly large and weighty, but still surprisingly easy to wear.
The release of a latch on its side allows the face of the watch to be tilted forward, with round collars extending telescopically behind it, to transform the case into a shell-shaped bell in which the tinging chimes of the gongs have their own cavernous auditorium with perfect acoustics, and the sound becomes crisp and fully rounded. Even underneath, where the hammers and gongs are located, the sapphire case back swings open on a hinge, exposing the mechanism to the air, so visually and audibly the experience is unparalleled.
On the front gold hands circulate above the exquisite finishing of the exposed movement, its complex arrangement of fine levers and tensioned springs configured around a round cavity in which the rotating one-minute tourbillon is the captivating heartbeat of the watch. Manufactured entirely in house, the hand winding MR01 movement has 319 components, and boasts 108 hours of power reserve when fully wound.
A horologic and innovative masterpiece the Manufacture Royale Opera is as ingenious as it is eccentric. With only eight unique pieces having been produced it is very much the connoisseurs’ collectible. Unusual and impractical too, it is, however, a fascinating and enchanting novelty and a conversation piece which trumps all others.