Please enjoy the original article below by established watch writer Meehna Goldsmith. From magazines to the freer writing form of the web, she is a knowledgeable watch junkie who knows high-end pieces. She contributes to publications such as Robb Report, International Watch, Watch Journal and Pink Magazine. You can visit her on her website www.meehnagoldsmith.com. I first wrote about the Jellyfish line from Nubeo here, with some hands-on images.
I’m pretty picky when it comes to women’s watches. Nine times out of ten, I prefer the men’s models over the ladies, because ladies watches are usually men’s watches dressed up in opulent drag and placed in a smaller case size. I also don’t like a lot of jewels on my watches (in my watches is A-okay). When I saw the Nubeo line of women’s timepieces, which includes some major sparklies, I had to backtrack immediately. I got a rush like I was a kid on a playground whisking down a slide. Wheee!!! I was in major covet mode and couldn’t wait to try them on.
Nubeo is a small, independent company that was launched by the effervescent and impassioned Spaniard Ivan (pronounced Ee-Vaughn) Castro in 2003. You can’t talk to him without getting a contact energy high. Perhaps because Castro is a jewelry designer and a naval engineer, he was able to bring a unique interpretation to the watch dial and case. The shape is like nothing I’ve ever seen, resembling that graceful underwater beauty the jellyfish.
Traditionally, haute horlogerie (high watchmaking) focuses on movement design and finishing. It’s not that the case and dial didn’t get attention, they just weren’t the stars of the show. Castro flipped the centuries-old notion on its head and asked why haute horlogerie couldn’t apply to the case. He gives a very compelling answer with his watches.
The cases are complex works of art, made up of many layers and surface treatments. Nubeo’s watches are not only appealing from a visual aesthetic, but also from a tactile one. They beg to be handled and examined. Just look at the bezel sculpted and polished to a high shine on several planes. The fluted crown is easy to grab and whispers, Wind me. Sensuous lines and curves define the back of the case. They aren’t just for show either. Sometimes a watch teeters awkwardly on your wrist. Not so with Nubeo. The case snuggles up comfortably for a perfect fit. While you’re wrapping the strap around your wrist, you can admire the gems and/or metals embedded there–a really nice design touch.
The dial also pops with detail, from the swirling guilloche to the individually cut and polished faceted hour markers.
Because Castro is a jewelry designer he has an appreciation for materials and gems. He has no fear of putting together unusual pairings that might make you turn up your nose at the concept. But then you see the rubber, stainless steel, gold and diamonds in beautiful collaboration, proving the intrepid Castro has impeccable taste. I love his use of color, showing off the beauty of fiery garnets, violet amethysts, and hot pink and orange sapphires.
Although the watches look elegant and pretty, they are sturdy and made to be used. All of them are water resistant so you can splash around in the pool, Jacuzzi or shower without worry. The gems are set below the bezel plane to accommodate the expected bumps and knocks in everyday life.
So, we need to talk about the price. These beauties don’t come cheap. The non-jeweled versions start at $6K, while the jeweled cases average about $20K+, though you can get one for around 10-12K. In this price range you definitely have a lot of choices from many of the established haute horlogerie companies. Some have questioned the price in comparison because Castro chose to use an ETA 7750, a reliable but mass produced movement. (The finishing on them is very good, however.)
If you were focusing on the movement, you’d be considering the watch from the wrong perspective. Castro makes no bones about what movement he uses and his primary criterion is reliability. Where Castro put the investment is in the best materials and manufacture of the case, which is top-notch. I don’t think you will find better.
Admittedly, these watches are not conventional and that’s what I love about them. They are conversation starters with character and style. As Castro makes less than 1000 pieces a year, you won’t find them on everybody’s wrist either.
If you’re just dipping your toe into luxury timepieces, this may be a big leap. But once you take the plunge, I think it will become a favorite in your collection.