Watches: Ulysse Nardin Classico Amerigo Vespucci (+live pics)

By Thierry Ané on May 5, 2014

I have always had a weakness for enamelled dials. Cloisonné, champlevé, paillonné, plique-à-jour, grisaille… Whatever the technique used, I believe it breathes life into the dial and transform a simple watch into a work of art.

Although I always appreciate the tremendous efforts and talent it takes to achieve such refined dials, I must admit that the decorative themes selected by some brands leave me puzzled to say the least. In this department, abstract art is always a safe choice in my views even though it is rarely selected. With figurative subjects, I am afraid that I am very conventional and that my heart mainly goes to wildlife representations. One noticeable exception though is the maritime depictions and for this reason I have always been a huge admirer of Ulysse Nardin’s Classico Cloisonné collection.

First, there is this elegant and timeless 40 mm round case with a gently bevelled bezel, small but sharply designed lugs and a perfectly polished finish. Then, there is the COSC-certified self-winding UN-815 calibre. This time-only movement with a power reserve of 42 hours is a blatant example of the brand’s dedication to fine watchmaking. Visible through the crystal back it features a nice rotor with a wave-like guilloché pattern. And then, of course, there is the cloisonné enamel dial.

Over the years, the brand has paid tribute to magnificent ships that won fame in great explorations, decisive battles or simply graced the oceans with their natural beauty. Off the top of my head, I can quote the Santa Maria, the HMS Caesar, the Pride of Baltimore, the HMS Achille or the Frigate Shtandart, that the brand honoured with two cloisonné models, one in pink gold and another one in either white gold or platinum.

This year for Baselworld, Ulysse Nardin added a prestigious name to the list: the Amerigo Vespucci, a tall ship of the Marina Militare (the Italian Navy) and named after the famous Italian explorer, navigator and cartographer. Built in 1930 and launched the following year, she voyaged around the globe before serving today as a training vessel for the Italian navy.

With the same cloisonné technique as the previous model and always the same dedication, the in-house artisans have painstakingly used over 500 millimetres of gold wire to make the “cloisons” and fired countless opaque, transparent, and translucent enamel surfaces of various colours to make this miniature replica as authentic as its real-life counterpart.

As always this work of art is available in two renditions: a white gold model with a black alligator strap and a rose gold version associated with a brown alligator strap. Both are limited to 30 pieces and have an identical dial except for the hands and the Ulysse Nardin anchor logo appliqué that are crafted in the same gold as the case.

Even though I have seen many other models from this collection, I was once again impressed by the beauty of this timepiece, the dial of which requires more than 50 working hours by the artist. Ulysse Nardin can be proud as very few manufactures have the in-house expertise to create such an exceptional timepiece!

For a technical description of the timepieces and additional pictures: