Ulysse Nardin’s Anthemic Stranger Now Plays Pakistani ‘Qaumi Tarana’
by Sandra Lane
At a time when the launch of a limited edition by one brand or another seems like an almost weekly occurrence (see Can We Still Take Limited Editions Seriously, Or Is That Already A Rhetorical Question?), Ulysse Nardin’s newest limited release is nonetheless well worthy of attention.
The Ulysse Nardin Stranger Anthem, an eight-piece edition developed in collaboration with Pakistan’s leading watch retailer, Collectibles, was unveiled at a dinner in Karachi in November with brand-new Ulysse Nardin CEO Patrick Pruniaux in attendance. This new interpretation of the Stranger musical watch (first introduced in 2013, followed by a Vivaldi version and an Only Watch unique piece in 2015) plays Qaumi Tarana, Pakistan’s national anthem.
Conceived by Rameez Sattar, Collectibles’ owner, as a tribute to his country’s seventieth anniversary, this watch is the latest in a series of Pakistan-inspired limited editions that has included Ulysse Nardin’s Freak, El Toro, and Hourstriker Oil Pump.
The idea came from a conversation over dinner in Geneva with Ulysse Nardin’s previous CEO Patrik Hoffmann about 18 months ago, says Sattar. “We were talking about Ulysse Nardin’s musical watches and it suddenly seemed clear to me that if they could do Sinatra and Vivaldi, they could surely do one with a national anthem – which no watch company has ever done before.”
However, says Sattar, it has been by far the most challenging of their collaborations to execute. “Patrik was open to the idea, although his technical team was very resistant at first. The mechanism is extremely hard to make, and our anthem added another level of complexity because in our music the tonality is just as important as the tune.”
A preferred version of the anthem’s music was computerized, and a digital rendition of the tone was used to determine the formation of the blades, which, like the gongs in a classical repeater, set the tone of the chimes (see Music Boxes And Heartfelt Causes: Ulysse Nardin Stranger).
Getting the notes right, and the tempo correct, was a back-and-forth process that took about a dozen trials and prototypes, Sattar says. The music can be played on demand, set to play automatically on the hour, or turned off entirely.
Anthem is an edition of eight pieces, a number that pays tribute to the month of August 1947, when Pakistan was formed following the partition of India. On each of the eight pieces, a different one of the eight applied numerals on the dial has been colored green, Pakistan’s national color, effectively making eight unique pieces.
Among other aesthetic touches, notable is that the ten blades are anchored by green screws, the text on all dial indicators is printed in green, and the black alligator-leather strap is hand-stitched with green thread. The legend “Pakistan 70 Years” is printed on the underside of the crystal, and the solid pink-gold case back is hand-engraved with the flag, an arrangement of musical notes, and the edition number.
In an interesting side note to Sattar’s collaboration with Ulysse Nardin, he has been collecting marine chronometers for three decades – although he sadly lost a significant portion of the collection in a 2016 robbery.
For more information on the Stranger, please visit www.ulysse-nardin.com/product/classic-stranger-6902-125-viv.
Quick Facts Stranger ‘Qaumi Tarana’ Anthem
Case: 45 mm, pink gold
Movement: automatic Caliber UN-690 with music box function and function selector
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date, melody striking Qaumi Tarana (the national anthem of Pakistan)
Limitation: 8 pieces, each with a variation in dial decoration
Price: approximately $110,000 (without taxes)