BASELNEWS 2010The Imperial St. Petersburg Collection with the Frigate Shtandart
The frigate Shtandart was the first ship of the Baltic fleet. It was commissioned under the decree of Peter the Great and on the order of the Governor Aleksandr Mshikov in 1703. It was built at the Olonetsky shipyard near Olonets under the supervision of a Dutch ship builder. The Shtandart served to open the new trading route from Russia to the Baltic sea and sailed under the flat of the Imperial Russian Navy till the October Revolution in 1917.
Ulysse Nardin pays homage to the Imperial Russian Navy with this timepiece featuring the Sthandart. The famous landmarks of Imperial St. Ptersburg, the Isaac’s cathedral on the left and the Admirality on the right form the background of this exceptional cloisonné dial. Each enamel cloisonné dial is individually handmade by skilled artisans. Over 500mm of fine gold wire is needed to make the cloisons. Over 50 working hours and 26 baking processes are required to complete each cloisonné dial.
The Shtandart is available in a limited edition of 30 pieces each in 18 ct rose gold and is part of The Imperial St. Petersburg, an elaborate multi-layer white translucent enamel Egg of the Tsars decorated with 4.25 carats of diamonds. The diamonds have been employed in creating some of the legendary symbols of St. Petersburg - the Admiralty Spire, the Rostral Columns, the Arch of the General Staff Building and the famous drawbridges that open at night to allow for passage of large vessels. Ulysse Nardin’s anchor serves to link the egg to the white marble base. Both the Shtandart and the Egg of the Tsars, true pieces of art, are destined to become highly sought-after collector’s items.
At the time of the company’s resurgence, Ulysse Nardin decided to combine the production of great mechanical timepieces with restoration of the lost art of enameling. This refined decorative technique lends a very unique appearance to the dials. The process of enameling can be traced back to Gallo-Roman times. Enamel is a glass comprising silica, red lead and potash. In the glazing process, stabilizing elements [lime or magnesium] are combined with the main ingredient silica, to which fluxes [potassium, sodium] are added to lower the melting point. Different colors are created by using different metallic oxides.
A variety of colors and tones [opaque, transparent or translucent] are derived from the proportions in which the elements are mixed in order to get amalgams, the composition of which is often a secret. Through the ages this technique has been well-used in watch making (primarily for high-end watches) thus enhancing their desirability by collectors.
The cloisonné technique is one of the most refined and intricate art forms and is mastered by less than a handful of artists. Every single segment is divided by a gold wire segment that will prevent the liquid powdered enamel to flow into other melting chambers. Only a very few artists are able to bend by hand this fine gold wires with a thickness of only 0.06 millimeter into the required shape and glue them piece by piece to the 18 ct gold plate of the dial. Ulysse Nardin takes pride in having revived the art of making watch dials in enamel cloisonné, an art form which was extinct for many years.