September 5, 2015
by Rob Nudds
It’s not often I struggle to get excited about watches; it’s rarer still I find it this easy! In all seriousness, the Ulysse Nardin Hourstriker Erotica Jarretiere watch is not the kind of watch I would normally go in for. I’ve nothing against erotic watches in theory, but historical examples have always been a bit too flamboyant and crude for my taste… and yet, I find this example different. I’m not sure if this is really a wrist- or safe-piece, but it is certainly charming for its craftsmanship and superb jaquemarts that decorate the dial.
Let’s focus right away on the main event: the lovers in tryst, enjoying a spot of carnal delight by an open window revealing a Venetian scene. The setting is one of passion more than love – etched into a dial of black onyx, the kicked-off high heels and discarded garter litter the floor between the balustrade and the chaise. And Venice itself is a city of Italian vim, alive with the kind of romantic madness only denizens of a floating city can truly understand. The dial is a muted backdrop to what could easily have been an overly flashy watch. It’s not like the 42mm case – available in either 18ct rose gold or platinum – is in anyway withdrawn, but this restrained palette is in sharp contrast to the erotic dials of old.
By keeping the colours to a minimum, Ulysse Nardin have drawn attention to the jaquemarts on the dial. It is a bold design move, which I believe pays dividends. The anatomy of the lovers is very well proportioned. The angle of the scene, which attempts to encompass a foreground veranda and a view in the distance as well, still leaves plenty of space to the lovers. When these figures, rendered in solid gold, are so nicely shaped and articulated (something that is truly appreciable when seen in motion) it makes a lot of sense to give them top billing.
Mechanically, the Ulysse Nardin Hourstriker Erotica Jarretiere watch is no joke. The self-winding calibre (UN-611) features a striking mechanism that sounds on the hour and half hour and a 42-hour power reserve. The chimes can be deactivated and reactivated by depressing the 2 o’clock pusher. The on/off mode is indicated by the small hand in between 2 o’clock and the centre. The automatons themselves consummate the act in time with the striking of the hours. One assumes that means the dear lady adorning the dial will find lunchtime distinctly unsatisfying. At least she will have plenty of time to sample some of Venice’s excellent gelato…
Although I found it a little strange to go into so much depth in this area (no pun intended), I watched a few videos of other erotic watches in action to compare the motion. I’m not sure if you’d care about the realism of this aspect if you were buying this watch, but for me, I think it would make a real difference to know the design team had done their homework. What I really like about the Ulysse Nardin Hourstriker Erotica Jarretiere watch is the way the woman’s legs rock backwards and forwards in sync with the thrusting gent. It looks as if this enraptured pair are well accustomed to each other, which, let’s face it, is preferable to the solid gold realisation of a drunken third date culminating in a rash of mistimed fumbling. In short, it’s about as realistic as I have seen, and despite the fact this is not an area in which I would have professed any serious interest, I am quite taken by this watch. In my opinion, the refinement of the automaton complication in the Ulysse Nardin Hourstriker Erotica Jarretiere watch is more sophisticated than some of the brand’s previous work in this field.
Now, obviously, everyone wants to be able to show their friends this awesome trick, and this can be achieved by pressing the 4 o’clock pusher. No matter the time of day, our intrepid adventurer will dive back into the fray on command. If you wish to wield such power over miniature people, you must act quickly: Only 28 pieces of each case material will be made. The size of this watch makes it wearable, but it is only water resistant to 30 meters, and is an incredibly luxury piece. With a price tag of $99,000 for the Ulysse Nardin Hourstriker Erotica Jarretiere, this really is an investment. For a collector with a whole range of erotic timepieces, this could be a beautiful, and remarkably tasteful, addition to the ranks. For the average watch aficionado, the real thing is probably more attainable. ulysse-nardin.com