There are some brands that make a few watch models that make me think, but do you really need to do that? Such as erotic watches – often made to commission with two people doing things with animation in a personalized position – for which apparently there is an incessant demand. And then there are watches like this North Sea Minute Repeater by Ulysse Nardin, designed for an obvious, restricted group of customers. Ulysse Nardin are specialists in champlevé enamel: in 2017 they have presented five watches presenting this technique, including the Classico Rooster for another “captive audience,” so to speak. The artisan excavates areas in a metal blank, that are then filled with enamel. The parts still visible are then hand-chiselled to complete the composition. The North Sea Minute Repeater has a sinister symbolism, with pitch-black sea, blood-red sky, and the golden rigs.
A demanding complication
The three cranes on the rig in the foreground move when the minute repeater is activated by pushing down the slider on the left, and the watch chimes the hours, quarters and minutes. The minute repeater is one of the classic complications (Jean-Claude Biver identified six complications that he considers essential for a watch brand, automatic winding, split-seconds chronograph, complete calendar with moon phase, perpetual calendar, tourbillon, minute repeater), and it is the most expensive, and the hardest to perfect in terms of acoustics, the volume and beauty of sound.
The watch is powered by the in-house calibre UN-73, manually-wound with about 36 hours power reserve. It is in rose gold, 42 mm in diameter, with a 30-metre water resistance. The caseback is in sapphire crystal.
Price and reference
The North Sea Minute Repeater by Ulysse Nardin is a limited edition of 18 pieces, reference 736-61/E2-OIL, price €295,000.