SIHH 2018: Voyeurs and Freaks, Ulysse Nardin Gets the Deviant in Us to Watch
While getting their “Freak On” was never an issue for Ulysse Nardin, the brand dared to go where no brand had gone before with two new and naughty novelties for SIHH 2018.
Brand press releases don’t usually excite me. I mean, I’m happy to get them and they often contain news that is critical to what I do for a living, but they don’t excite excite me, if you know what I mean. That is, until I received an email from Ulysse Nardin about this year’s new releases for the 28th edition of the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH). Its opening paragraph contained the following description of the discreetly roped-off “back room” at their SIHH salon where their latest erotic watches are to be showcased:
“...everything else in this voluptuous boudoir is carnal red — the carpet, the red velvet canapé in the shape of a woman’s mouth, and the walls, adorned with the evocative tools of the sex trade, all exquisitely framed. Do you dare enter?”
To which my inner sybarite replied, “Yes, Ulysse Nardin. Yes, I dare enter. I dare enter like no watch journalist has ever dared enter before me, and likely will not dare enter after. You may not even be able to get me to dare exit once I dare enter, but you might want to bring me a cigarette and a scotch because I have a feeling I’m going to be there a while. So, I guess the question back to you should be, do you dare let me dare enter?”
And for the first time since I started writing about watches, a brand press release truly excited me.
The Ulysse Nardin Classic Voyeur
While it’s easy to get tied up (pun intended) in the hedonistic, erotic artistry with which the Ulysse Nardin Classic Voyeur is made, the labor involved in bringing such a fantastical timepiece to life should not be overlooked or misunderstood.
Like most unconventional relationships – marital, sexual, or otherwise – the Classic Voyeur is quite complicated, but the magnificence and splendor brought forth by those complications make every ounce of worry, work, and wisdom put into creating such a thing of beauty well worth the time and effort involved.
Mechanically speaking, the Classic Voyeur is a minute repeater, but more specifically (and impressively), it is a Jaquemart automaton repeater with low-pitched chimes at the hours and higher-pitched chimes at the minutes. However, unlike Ulysse Nardin’s Hourstriker Erotica Jarretiere watch released by the brand in 2015, the fornicating couple on this year’s edition has an audience, giving this erotic timepiece a slightly more unorthodox feel.
The scene depicts the “watching” couple standing in the foreground of an anthracite Louis XIV-style salon dial complete with engraved canapé and carpet. The male partner has pulled back the curtain to the salon, revealing the “watched” couple in the throes of lovemaking. Each press of the minute repeater’s button couples the lovers by rhythmically moving the woman’s leg and her partner’s arm, torso and thigh, while in the foreground, the woman’s hand aids in arousing her partner as he excitedly looks on.
The Classic Voyeur contains the Calibre UN-73 manual winding movement, is water resistant to 30 meters, measures 42mm in diameter, and has a 36-hour power reserve (which neither guarantees nor suggests that the wearer will able to perform for that length of time... sorry, ladies). It is available in 18K pink gold or platinum and is limited to 18 pieces of each in the non-diamond version. But Ulysse Nardin is also offering a magnificent baguette diamond and platinum option for those who prefer a bigger bang for their buck.
And now that I’m finished writing what will probably go down in history as being the greatest watch description of my career, let’s talk about another one of Ulysse Nardin’s 2018 SIHH releases by – as if we didn’t do it enough already – getting Freaky.
The Ulysse Nardin Freak Vision
While the name “Freak Vision” might sound like a virtual reality adults-only website, it’s actually quite the opposite. The Ulysse Nardin Freak Vision is the first automatic watch in the brand’s award-winning Freak Collection; a collection that caught the attention of journalists and collectors alike because of its silicium escapement components, and lack of hands, crown, and dial.
The release of the Freak Vision for this year’s SIHH shows us again that Ulysse Nardin is not only serious about Swiss watchmaking because of the trade’s artistic elements and historical significance, but that they also plan on taking an innovative approach to watchmaking through the use of modern methods, alternative materials, unconventional components, and creative concepts.
The time on the Freak Vision is still kept in the same “Freak” manner as the previous watches in this collection: with the “flying carousel” baguette movement rotating around its own axis. However, there are noticeable differences in the watch’s design, such as the box-domed sapphire crystal allowing for a narrower middle and bezel, and the three-dimensional carved upper bridge which was inspired by the hull of a ship. Even the outer case itself looks different, though the platinum case with blue rubber side bars and titanium case back makes for an interesting combination.
Ulysse Nardin’s Freak Vision contains the Calibre UN-250 movement with the hour and minute functions indicated by the rotation of the movement (one turn of the flying carousel in one hour). It has a silicium oscillator with nickel inertia blocks, self-regulating silicium micro-blades, and a silicium finishing gear train, plus a 50-hour power reserve, though that’s at constant amplitude. The watch is water resistant to 30 meters, measures 45mm in diameter, and comes with a rubber-like leather strap with titanium folding clasp.
And while these two watches were about as different from one another as they could be, both brought an element of surprise and wonder for me, and frankly, both knew exactly how to #freakmeout.