Color – it is essence of life and Earth, and for many, it offers inspiration and makes a keen statement of individuality. Such is the case with the newest women’s Classico Lady Grand Feu watches from Ulysse Nardin unveiled earlier this year and in stores now.
A brand renowned for its marine heritage, its dive and water watches, as well as for its complicated repeaters, sonneries, automatons, Freak and more – Ulysse Nardin never ceases to delight us with its softer side. From its well-known Jade watch with twist crown instead of pullout crown (to save women’s fingernails), to its women’s Marine line and the Classico Lady, Ulysse Nardin regularly offers both form and function in its women’s watches – sometimes with a bit more form or a bit more function depending on the watch.
With the newest collection, this is beautifully evident. Thanks to the fact that the brand owns the Donze Cadrans dial workshops, it is a leader in the making of enamel, grand Feu enamel, hand painted and other artistic dials. The Ulysse Nardin Classico Lady Grande Feu watches blend that hand craftsmanship and artistic form with top-notch mechanical watchmaking.
The new pieces feature silver dials that are meticulously hand-guilloched with a sunburst pattern, as well as a tiny wave pattern across the entire dial. Each dial is then superbly painted with translucent enamel in gradient shades. The enamel is applied time and again, and then fired in a kiln as high as 900 degrees centigrade, again and again to achieve the desired depth of color. Dial colors are a medium gray, stunning sea blue, alluring lavender and arresting seafoam green. Each watch is color-coordinated with a matching alligator strap (except for the blue dial, which is fitted with a white strap). Because the enamel powder that is used for the translucent dials is incredibly limited in reserve at Donze Cadrans, just a handful of each color version will be made.
The Grand Feu enamel work is so detailed and inviting that it leaves you continually gazing at the dial – sometimes forgetting to check the time. My personal favorite is the lavender version because it is so different and unusual. Granted, it doesn’t match everything, but it makes a powerful statement on the wrist. The other one that works wonders for me is the pewter gray version because it is spectacularly sophisticated and can easily go from boardroom to ballroom. Don’t get me wrong, the blue dial is beautiful but I would have preferred it on a blue strap (and if it is just a matter of strap, Ulysse Nardin will probably be kind enough to switch for a blue one…) The green one is also lovely, but seafoam is more of a tropical color.
Matching beauty with brains, Ulysse Nardin equips each Classico Lady Grand Feu three-hand watch with the UN-815 self-winding movement with 42 hours of power reserve. Each 37mm watch (a respectful diameter for a lady’s watch) is crafted in 18-karat white gold and features a bezel and lugs set with 76 diamonds – weighing just over 1-carat. The watches are water resistant to 30 meters and features anti-reflective sapphire crystals. The latter is a good thing because with the wave pattern and graduated color, having no glare on the watch makes for easier readability.
There is nothing to really say on the negative side of this watch. The precision movement is accurate, and the three hands are adequate for a classic, dress style watch whose true statement is about art and elegance. The retail price, about 24,900 Swiss Francs also seems fair, given the intense amount of hand craftsmanship that goes into the making of each dial. Now, if Ulysse Nardin would only offer it in sunlight yellow…