Horology: tribute to Venice, la Serenissima
From September 2 to 12, Venice attracted international attention. The 72nd annual edition of the Venice Film Festival or Mostra de Venise 2015 has just ended. Ulysse Nardin showed its naughty side.
Venice, oh Venice. “La Mostra de Venise” is the world’s oldest cinema festival. This year, Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron presided over the international jury composed also by German actress, Diane Kruger and French writer Emmanuel Carrère, amongst others. On the watchmaking side of things, Ulysse Nardin paid tribute to the city of canals with the “Hourstriker Erotica Jarretière”, which was introduced in August 2015. The provocative watch is a minute repeater that features Jacquemarts on a background of delicate Venetian decorations.
History-imbued walls: an exceptional presentation-case
Venice… its gondolas drifting along the Grand Canal, its magnificent carnival, Doge’s Palace and its narrow alleys. Also known as the “la Serenissima” and part of the Adriatic Sea, Venice is the dream destination of millions of tourists each year.
Established shortly after 528, the city is made of 118 small islands that are separated by 177 canals – on which gondolas and vaporettos travel – and interlinked by 455 bridges. Venice’s rich artistic and architectural heritage includes Doge’s Palace, the Bridge of Sighs and the impressive Clock Tower.
The Clock Tower was built between 1496 and 1499 on the famous St Mark’s square. It features a huge clock that indicates hours, the zodiac signs, the sun’s position, the seasons, and moon phases thanks to a complex mechanism that was designed by Gian Paolo Rainieri and Bartolomeo Ferracina. On top of it there is a statue of Virgin Mary holding the Child. Around it there are two apertures that reveal the hours in Roman numerals and the minutes in Arabic numerals. There is also St Mark’s Lion on a background of blue enamel interspersed with gold stars. Of course, such architectural and historical creativity could not leave watchmaking manufactures indifferent. Many of them thus paid tribute to the city of canals with pieces as exceptional and refined as the frescos to be found in the city’s monuments. Some Swiss watchmaking brands also felt the appeal of the city of canals, which fueled their inspiration and pushed them to create inspired pieces.
Frederique Constant Genève: “Runabout Venise Limited Edition” (2012)
Since 2009, the manufacture based in Plan-les-Ouates has paid tribute to the famous 1920s Runabout boats that navigate Venice’s canals. In 2012, it introduced a chronograph and a three-hand-date watch dedicated to Venice, where the Challenge Runabout it organizes took place in 2012. Both pieces were available in limited editions of 1,888 pieces each and were of course named “Runabout Venise editions”. They featured a classic design, a 43-mm steel case and a silver dial. The center of their “Pavé de Paris” guilloché dial was equipped with pink gold hands and indexes. They both came with a brown leather strap enhanced by beige top stitching. The FC-392 caliber was partially visible through the back that is engraved with a gondola and the town’s main monuments. Each watch was encased in a sumptuous hand-made, wooden presentation case featuring a Runabout boat.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition Grande Complication Venice Edition (2010)
Jaeger-LeCoultre and Venice share the same values: a rich legacy and refined creations. In 2010, the “Grande Maison” introduced the “Master Grande Tradition Grande Complication Venice Edition”, a refined piece equipped with the three greatest watchmaking complications: a minute repeater, a flying tourbillon and a sidereal zodiac calendar. This unique piece is a tribute to Venice and it reproduces the movements of the Earth in relation to the sun and the stars. The middle of the 44-mm 18K white gold case is engraved with geometrical patterns inspired by Doge’s Palace. The transparent back reveals the in-house Jaeger-LeCoultre 945 caliber that was entirely assembled and decorated by hand.
On the blue guilloché dial that displays the sky map of the northern hemisphere, the flying tourbillon replaces the hand of the sidereal hour and makes a complete rotation of the dial in 23 hours 56 minutes and 4 seconds (the time the sun takes to rotate in relation to the stars). Placed on the edge of the dial, the sun turns and displays the months, the date and the zodiac symbols – Leo being symbolized by St Mark’s winged lion. Available in only 75 pieces, this great complication was also innovative due to its minute repeater made of two gongs of a special alloy and “trebuchet” hammers that emitted exceptionally clear sounds.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Répétition Minutes à Rideau Venise (2012)
On the occasion of the 80th anniversary of its iconic reversible watch, Jaeger-LeCoultre launched the “Reverso Répétition Minutes à Rideau”, a watch produced in a limited edition of 75 pieces equipped with the most prestigious of watchmaking complications; the Holy Grail of any collector of refined watches. The brand also created the Reverso Répétition Minutes à Rideau «Venise» - an exclusive version of the iconic watch in only 8 pieces with a distinct dial and blue gold bridges.
With this timepiece, the Le Sentier-based manufacture paid honorable tribute to Venice and illustrated its every skill for great complications. Indeed, the 18K white gold “Reverso Répétition Minutes à Rideau” is the world’s first watch to be equipped with a curtain that slides to activate its minute repeater. Inspired by the design of the famous venetian blinds, the curtain is composed of sixteen 2.34-mm sheets and covers the skeletonized grey dial. It slides to wind the minute repeater that successively strikes the hours, quarters and minutes on two gongs. It is driven by the hand-wound ultra-thin 5.89-mm Jaeger-LeCoultre 944 caliber that has been completely crafted, assembled and decorated by hand.
The front face of the white gold case pays yet another tribute to Venice with engravings that reproduce the geometrical patterns that decorate the façade of Doge’s Palace.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso «70 Mostra» (2013)
On the occasion of the Venice Film Festival’s 180th anniversary in 2013, Jaeger-LeCoultre, partner of the event for ten years, created a customized version of the Reverso for the winners of the year’s Best Film (Golden Lion), Best Actress and Best Actor (Coppa Volpi). The back of the Reverso 70 Mostra’s gold has “70 Mostra” engraved and is decorated with a hand-made red-lacquered engraving that represents Venice’s iconic winged lion.
During the Festival, Jaeger-LeCoultre also gave out the trophy for the Jaeger-LeCoultre “Glory to the Filmmaker Award”. The brand created this prize to honor the personalities who contributed to the development of cinematographic art. This year, the award went to American director, Brian de Palma.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Duomètre Sphérotourbillon Enamel (2014)
The Hybris Artistica collection is composed of twelve unique pieces with great complications that regroup 180 years of the Grande Maison’s technical and artistic skills. One of them is the “Duomètre Sphérotourbillon Enamel”, available in a limited edition of only 3 pieces and featuring finishes inspired by Venice. The middle of the 44-mm white gold case – partially open to reveal the moving “Sphérotourbillon” – is engraved with the same geometrical patterns to be seen in Doge’s Palace. The bezel, dial and middle are decorated with blue enamel. The dial is divided in two; the main dial features spangled blue enamel echoing the patterns of the Clock Tower. It indicates the local time and reveals a flying tourbillon overhanging a sapphire bridge. Two additional sub-dials display the second time zone and the small seconds as per the Dual-Wing concept that joins the two autonomous mechanisms in the same case. The first one indicates the hours while the second one activates additional features. The hand-wound Jaeger-LeCoultre 382 movement is equipped with two barrels that provide it with a 50-hour power reserve.
Piaget Polo Tourbillon Relatif Hommage à la Tour de l'Horloge de Venise
Piaget Polo Tourbillon Relatif «Hommage à la Tour de l’Horloge de Venise» (2007)
Piaget’s history is closely linkes to Venice’s. Indeed, the brand sponsored the restoration of St Mark’s Clock Tower. When the clock was inaugurated in 2006 after ten years of restoration work, the Swiss manufacture created a unique copy of its iconic “Polo Tourbillon Relatif” and named it "Hommage à la Tour de l’Horloge de Venise". The piece was assembled by only one watchmaker and is equipped with the in-house hand-wound 608P caliber. A central plate displays the hours while a flying tourbillon is suspended on the tip of the minute hand. The watch’s decorations pay tribute to great Venetian artists. The white gold case features the blue color as well as the patterns of the Clock Tower. Just like the dial, it is enhanced by Grand Feu enamel. St Mark’s stars and winged lion are hand-engraved in white gold on the middle (with the use of the champlevé technique) and it reproduces part of the Clock Tower.
Ulysse Nardin Carnival of Venice Minute Repeater (2013)
Ulysse Nardin, one of the oldest watchmaking manufactures and one of the rare brands to continue the production of minute repeaters with Jacquemarts, was also inspired by Venice. In the late 1980s, the Le Locle-based manufacture named a unique watch San Marco after the famous square in Venice and, in so doing, showed that it fully mastered the minute repeater; the queen of watchmaking complications. In 2013, the manufacture introduced the Carnival of Venice Minute Repeater, inspired by and named after the city’s most iconic event. The Carnival of Venice that started in the Middle Ages is today a spectacular and colorful tourist event. Housed in a 42-mm case, the complication can be seen on a refined dial of champlevé enamel through two shapes standing in front of the Rialto Bridge – the oldest bridge in Venice and one of the city’s most visited monuments. The two Jacquemarts, which move in synchronization with the minute repeater – wear carnival traditional costumes such as the “bauta” that was inspired by the “Commedia dell’arte”. They lift their mask at each strike when indicating the hours, quarters and minutes. The hand-wound UN-71 caliber is visible through the platinum case’s sapphire back. Produced in only 18 copies, this watch is also available in pink gold or platinum and features a crown set with 60 baguette diamonds.
Ulysse Nardin Hourstriker Erotica Jarretière (2015)
Once again, Ulysse Nardin pushed the boundaries by launching the “Hourstriker Erotica Jarretière”. It is a sensual minute repeater which follows a watchmaking tradition that appeared in the late 17th century by adding a complication linked to an erotic scene. Crafted by hand, the scene is displayed on a black onyx dial with a Venetian background showing the Rialto Bridge, under which passes the Grand Canal. On a balcony, two passionate lovers make love on an armchair next to which, on the floor, lies a pair of high heels and suspenders. Their bodies are animated by 18K gold or platinum hand-made Jacquemarts that move to the rhythm of the Hourstriker’s chiming. This marvelous mechanism is driven by the self-winding UN-611 caliber that strikes the hours and the half-hours on demand. Indeed, the chiming can be activated or deactivated by simply pressing the watch’s pusher. This erotico-venetian scene is enhanced by the 43-mm case that is available in platinum 950 or 18K pink gold and protected by anti-reflective treated sapphire glass. This unique timepiece has a sensual décor and is available in only 28 pieces.
Zenith Chronomaster Open El Primero Venice edition (2007)
In 2007, Zenith was the brand to pay tribute to Venice with a limited edition of one of its great classics, the iconic Chronomaster Open. Driven by the famous El Primero caliber, the watch had a frequency of 36,000 vibrations per hour and a 50-hour power reserve.
The Chronomaster Open El Primero Venice edition evokes the splendors of the Italian Renaissance. Produced in a limited edition of 100 pieces, the refined watch is equipped with a 45-mm pink gold case protected by anti-reflective treated and curved sapphire glass on its front and back. It features a guilloché dial with gold threads that inevitably remind us of the winged Lion, the representation of St Mark and symbol of Venice. The legendary figure was added with appliques to the whole of the dial. Delicately sculpted in pink gold, its effigy is also visible through the aperture on the escapement side of the dial, which is typical for watches of the Chronomaster Open collection. The edge of this aperture as well as the numbers, the indexes, and the oscillating mass were also crafted in pink gold.