The Ulysse Nardin Classico Manara Stainless Steel, a limited edition series watch that is part of the Classico collection from Ulysse Nardin featuring the work of Italian erotic comic book artist Milo Manara is a true masterstroke from the Le Locle based Swiss watch manufacture Ulysse Nardin Watches. In a world of traditional pieces from Audemars Piguet with their Royal Oak, the Hublot Big Bang and Classic Fusion, and the excellence of every manufacture from IWC to Richard Mille, the Ulysse Nardin Classico Manara Stainless Steel, although based on the same automatic self-winding movement and polished steel case as other watches in Ulysse Nardin Classico collection, offers something genuinely different, and rare.
The Ulysse Nardin in-house design UN-320 caliber (calibre to some) movement which powers all of the watches in the Ulysse Nardin Classico Collection features not only an automatic, self-winding movement but beats at the rhythm of silicium technology. What the Ulysse Nardin Classico Manara limited edition in stainless steel does then is to combine the straightforward elements of the watches from the Ulysse Nardin Classico collection, the automatic self-winding movement, silicium technology and polished steel case, and then combine this with a dial face with only the hours an minutes displayed and featuring, in replica, miniature form, within the water resistant polished steel case, a blue dial with one of a series of ten hand-painted erotic masterpieces of scenes from beneath the waves. The long history and connection of Watches Ulysse Nardin and the Classico manufacture with seafaring in some ways make the tie up with the Valpolicella, Italy based erotic painter and artist Milo Manara a match made in heaven, particularly when that heaven is under the sea. Hublot and the other manufacturers had never ventured here.
What the Ulysse Nardin Classico Manara Stainless Steel is then, is a polished stainless steel case automatic self-winding Ulysse Nardin Classico with erotic fantasy art placed center stage, or the center of its blue dial to be more precise. Milo Manara brought to the Ulysse Nardin Classico Manara project a series of ten, individually created images, with illustration from Milo Manara working on both an individual level and as part of the series of ten. Each full-size Milo Manara drawing, or rather each full-size Milo Manara illustration, was then replica micro painted onto each watch blue dial that would sit inside the case of each watch in the limited edition series. With each Milo Manara illustration replica micro painted onto the blue dial of ten watches destined to be housed in a rose gold case, and ten more destined for a home in a stainless steel polished case, the total series of ten replica Milo Manara erotic illustrations would yield a limited edition series for the Ulysse Nardin Classico Manara of some 200 pieces, and a beautiful rival to anything from Hublot, IWC, Audemars Piguet, Richard Mille and the others.
Aside then, from the basic layout of the watches from the Ulysse Nardin Classico Collection, with the automatic self-winding movement and rose gold or polished steel case, the entirety of the blue watch dial face of the Ulysse Nardin Classico Manara was given over to Milo Manara, with a replica of his drawing micro painted on its blue surface, a blank canvas for a replica of the original Milo Manara illustration to be micro painted in replica form, by the craftsmen and women back at the Ulysse Nardin manufacture headquarters in Le Locle. With Watches Ulysse Nardin’s close association with seafaring, it was perhaps no surprise that the Milo Manara’s erotic images would evoke the mythology of the sea, with a distinctly erotic twist. Milo Manara himself has commented that the series of erotic sketches, drawings, and illustrations forming the basis for the art destined for the dial of the Ulysse Nardin Classico Manara were inspired by not only the artwork of Caravaggio and the Renaissance but the deeper connection between the erotic and time. In the Milo Manara illustration series, we see Nadia, a human woman, through the window of the blue dial of each of the ten limited edition pieces, as she ventures beneath the waves and is rescued from a shark by Ulyssa, a mermaid. Ulyssa and Nadia involve themselves in an erotic art adventure before Nadia once again returns to dry land, perhaps only with a Ulysse Nardin Classico Manara Stainless Steel watch to remember her fleeting encounter. It must be said that the quality of the transfer of each of the Milo Manara illustration series to produce a painted blue watch dial in replica, the micro painted form is truly stunning.
In the world of limited edition watches from any manufacturer, whether that be Richard Mille, Hublot, IWC, or Audemars Piguet, perhaps particularly Hublot, the Ulysse Nardin Classico Manara Stainless Steel watch from the Ulysse Nardin Watch manufacture, Le Locle, Switzerland’s Classico collection, remains something special. Much like the mythical scenes painted onto the blue limited edition dials, Milo Manara has legendary status not just in his hometown of Valpolicella, Italy, but amongst Italian of any generation and indeed worldwide. The genius behind the Ulysse Nardin Classico Manara Stainless Steel watch is to match the type of erotic, Renaissance-inspired imagery that others such as Hublot might shy away from, and take nothing away from its power, in this case by the use of anything other than an in-house, self-winding automatic movement and a relatively simple polished stainless steel watch case. The replica, micro painted depictions of the Nadia and her underwater liaison with Ulysse, perhaps a goddess who has inspired many a Ulysse Nardin nautical themed timepiece, is simply stunning.
What impresses most though , particularly when compared to more sober brands such as Hublot, is the risk that Ulysse Nardin has been prepared to take with this blue dial addition to the Ulysse Nardin Classico Collection, and in offering the limited edition blue sea dial Ulysse Nardin Classico Manara Stainless Steel watch with such an understated steel case and self-winding automatic movement, Ulysse Nardin has guaranteed that all the attention is focused on the micro painted blue dial of each watch and the Milo Manara illustration that it depicts. Mated with a blue alligator leather strap the Ulysse Nardin Classico Manara Stainless Steel watch makes quite some statement, and with a water resistance of some 30m., the owner of a Ulysse Nardin Classico Manara Stainless Steel watch should have no fear in venturing beneath the blue waves themselves in search of an adventure similar to that of Nadia and Ulysse. If the welcome the watch received upon its launch at the Mastercard / American Express sponsored launch at SIHH 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland, is anything to go by, Ulysse Nardin Watch of Le Locle Switzerland can truly be said to have discovered sunken treasure with this particular limited edition addition to the Ulysse Nardin Classico Collection, with a little help not from Hublot but a mythical mermaid and her human lover Nadia.
Powered by the UN-320 self-winding manufacture movement and beating at the rhythm of silicium technology – which Ulysse Nardin has mastered for decades – only the hours and minutes are displayed in order to leave a maximum amount of space on the watch faces for the drawings.
The hands are discreet, leaving the drawings to star on the face of each watch. These Classico Manara in 40 mm will be set on dark blue alligator straps to align with the color tonality dictated by Manara. As a special gift from Ulysse Nardin, each watch purchase will be accompanied by an original numbered Milo Manara print, signed by the artist himself.
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