Ulysse Nardin Marches On With The Hannibal Minute Repeater Westminster Carillon Tourbillon Jaquemarts
The Ulysse Nardin San Marco Jaquemarts Minute Repeater from 1989 not only reintroduced translucent enamel to the world of modern horology, but in a way also reintroduced the minute repeater. For certain, it reintroduced jaquemarts, those sonorous seventeenth-century elements that had not been seen for decades.
In fact, the San Marco was the first serially produced minute repeating wristwatch in the history of horology to include automata.
On a wristwatch, a jaquemart is a specific type of automat: it is the reproduction of a human figure striking the time on a bell on the dial; in essence this “jack” is a fancy name for a human-form automaton. The figure is connected to a complicated set of gears driven by a repeating mechanism.
The jaquemart has become one of Ulysse Nardin’s signature elements, and the brand presents a new jaquemart-style repeater in a very limited edition to the world on a frequent basis.
As of 2002, though, this traditional complication fairly unique to the Le Locle-based brand received two added elements: a Westminster gong (a combination of four gongs playing four different tones) and a one-minute tourbillon.
You can see and hear them in this video.
Honoring the world’s greatest military commander
The reason for Ulysse Nardin choosing to honor Hannibal, aka Hannibal Barca, the Punic Carthaginian military commander who lived from 247 to approximately 181 BCE, other than because of his legendary historical status, might be rooted in the recent history of the brand and previous owner Rolf Schnyder’s love of such large gestures.
The minute repeater automaton wristwatch Ulysse Nardin introduced in 2002, for example, honored Genghis Khan. Ulysse Nardin has always liked the rhapsodic nature of such homages.
The Hannibal Minute Repeater Westminster Carillon Tourbillon Jaquemarts not only honors the brand’s own tradition in jaquemarts and repeaters, but also the remarkable feat by placing an animated representation of Hannibal’s legendary 218 BCE crossing of the Pyrenees and the Alps during the second Punic War in a bid to reach the Roman Republic with his Carthaginian army on the dial.
Hannibal is reputed to have had 50,000 infantry and 9,000 cavalry in addition to a war-elephant corps with him on the crossing.
Largely regarded as one of the best military strategists of all time, Hannibal is immortalized on the dial of the Hannibal Minute Repeater Westminster Carillon Tourbillon Jaquemarts with four figurines.
That incredible dial
This very masculine dial is very much worth taking a closer look at for it not only expresses the ingenuity of the watchmaker, but also the symbolic power of history.
For one, the background of the three-quarter dial is crafted in an authentic piece of granite from the Alps.
Against its backdrop and that of a white gold Alpine skyline, Hannibal on horseback interacts with one of the famed elephants. Flanking these two figures are foot soldiers. All of these applied figures are engraved in 18-karat white gold.
All four of the figures are also jaquemarts, and each one moves along with one of the gong tones, brandishing weaponry – except for the elephant, which frantically wiggles its trunk in time with its designated Westminster gong.
The four gongs inside the movement sound in three different sequences, one signifying each quarter hour: “mi-do-re-so” for 15 minutes after the hour; “mi-do-re-so-so-re-mi-do” for 30 minutes after the hour; and “mi-do-re-so- so-re-mi-do-mi-di-re-so” for 45 minutes after the hour.
If it weren’t for the beautiful tourbillon put on display on the bottom third of the dial, the fortunate wearer of this piece might be transported back into the Roman era. But the tourbillon whose bridge is shaped like those that James Pellaton produced for Ulysse Nardin at the beginning of the twentieth century pulls us right back into the modern era.
And, making it even more unique, the tourbillon is outfitted with a blue sapphire endstone in place of the usual ruby cap jewel (and even the diamond endstone that luxury Saxon producers prefer) that is flat on one side and domed on the other. The tip of the balance staff pivot rests against the endstone’s flat surface. Its function – like that of any jewel in a watch movement – is to reduce friction.
The ultimate toy for the man who has everything, Hannibal would surely be proud to know he has been depicted here – still conquering the Alps in his own way.
For more information, please visit www.ulysse-nardin.com/Hannibal_Minute_Repeater.
Case: 44 mm, platinum
Movement: manually wound Caliber UN-78 with one-minute tourbillon, minute repeater with Westminster carillon and jaquemart automata; 70-hour power reserve
Dial: genuine granite from the Alps
Functions: hours, minutes; minute repeater with jaquemarts automata
Limitation: 30 pieces
Price: 725,000 Swiss francs
Also published on Medium.