In the daily rhythm of working within the watch industry, one sees many watches, some nice, others that are exceptionally fine, and then there is that rarest class – the kind that stay in your memory long after they are joined to the wrist of a happy owner. It’s the latter category that I particularly enjoy. Having had the opportunity to spend a fleeting few moments with Ulysse Nardin’s “Jungle Minute Repeater”, I can unequivocally state that this gorgeous watch – no, more than that – this object of mechanical art, will not be forgotten anytime soon.
Gazing into the dial, you are immediately transfixed by the sheer detail of the jungle scene that seems to spring forth. The hornbill, the tiger, the foliage, and the waterfall with the fish are all very three dimensional and take on a life of their own. You can almost hear the stream trickle as the rhinoceros bends his head to drink. The cloissonne enamel work, obviously undertaken by an accomplished master of the challenging art demonstrates immediately that the watch in hand is something rare and glorious. But it is not until the watch is brought to life with a turn of the winding crown, and the minute repetition slide on the caseband is activated, that the full charm of this poetic watch is revealed.
Suddenly the jungle begins to stir. The tiger paw moves in synchrony with the chimes of the hours and the low tones of the quarter hours, while the hornbill on the branch bobs rhythmically to the treble notes of the quarters and the individual peals of the minutes. The small seconds display is not shown by a hand, but by fish which seem to effortlessly glide by on the miniature waterfall coursing through the foliage. A glimpse into the sapphire caseback reveals the finely executed Lemania minute repeating movement glittering within; it unfolds the fundamental basics of the play on the dial, but in no way diminishes the magic when we inevitably turn the watch over to be drawn into the pulsebeat of the jungle once again. The finish of the mechanism and the purity of the chimes ringing forth speak to that within us which is civilized, while the mesmerizing dial beckons us deep into into it’s primal beauty, providing a reminder that we are but a part of nature ourselves.
This is definitely a watch I will cherish in my memory, for above all, how many objects of art can speak to the duality of human nature in such a satisfying way?