Homage to ‘Black Gold’: Ulysse Nardin North Sea Minute Repeater

An homage to the oil industry, Ulysse Nardin’s new North Sea Minute Repeater marks the latest addition to the unique timepieces in its Classic Collection. Finely crafted in gold and champlevé enamel, this timepiece is an incredibly realistic depiction of the mighty off-shore drilling rigs that dig deep for the world’s precious “black gold”. The glimmering champlevé rig, seen from a low angle, rises majestically from the black sea, with its delicately wrought waves in the foreground. A dramatic red sky highlights the stunningly detailed structure, while in the background, another golden rig labors away.

Three 18K gold cranes – the Jaquemarts – move and sound when the minute repeater is activated indicating the hours, quarter hours and minutes. Known for its crystalline chimes as well as its impressive mechanical timekeeping, the minute-repeater complication is highly respected in the horological industry and by connoisseurs as one of the most difficult to achieve.

The champlevé enamel technique is a rarity and the Ulysse Nardin North Sea Minute Repeater is a fine example of this ancient art. First introduced in the 12th century, the champlevé enamel technique is mastered by only a handful of craftspeople worldwide. Firstly, it requires the engraver to define the design on a gold plate, carefully creating the image in three-dimensions. The enameller then lays down the different-colored enamels. Finally, the effect is brought vividly to life by the engraver who chisels the metal to perfection once the dial has been polished.

Minimal black indexes, and streamlined hour and minute hands allow the final results – the powerful champlevé rigs – to take center stage on the rose-gold dial.

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