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Siren Song

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Siren Song

MILO MANARA’s erotic watches take you on a voyage into the depths of a mythical sea of desire where Ulyssa, a mermaid, and Nadia, a woman, meet, discover and love each other in a timeless, nautical reverie.

Based on Manara’s illustrations of underwater encounters between a hauntingly beautiful woman and a mythical mermaid, the watches are a palindrome, each one a unique, timeless moment that exists independently from the others.

Italian maestro of erotica MILO MANARA has helmed ten illustrations, depicting an underwater rendezvous between a beautiful, alluring mermaid and a woman, for watchmaker Ulysse Nardin. The series was unveiled for the first time at the SIHH in Geneva in January 2019.

With over 150 years of watchmaking knowledge and experience, Ulysse Nardin has transferred Manara’s story onto ten watch faces using the micro painting technique.

Where mermaids and sharks bask freely in clear waters, in an underwater world freed from the constraints of time, the tale told on each one of these ten, unique watch faces is a visual feast, recounting a love story between an earthly woman and an otherworldly mermaid. The Sapphic story unfolds under the waves, in a place where time has no bearing.

“The clock lends itself particularly precisely to this theme because in eroticism there is eternity,” says Manara.

A mermaid and a human meet and engage tenderly under the watchful eye of a distant shark. Like the sirens in Homer’s classic tale of Ulysses, Manara’s mermaid enchants the young woman, taking her into a sensual embrace. Each scene is a moment where time disappears, and love propels them as they rock gently in the ocean waves.

“I had to think of a theme that brings all these ten images together and yet leaves each one its autonomy, so that it works on its own without the need for the others,” Manara explains from his studio in Valpolicella, Italy. “This is not a linear story but there is a common thread based on two characters; one is a timeless girl and the other, a mermaid.”

Born in northern Italy, Manara has been a graphic illustrator for over fifty years. He was classically trained as a painter, studying the works of Rubens, Caravaggio and de Chirico before defining his own style. For this series of watches, Manara chose a universal theme – erotic love – and created characters that exist in their own time frame.

“I HAD TO THINK OF A THEME THAT BRINGS ALL THESE TEN IMAGES TOGETHER AND YET LEAVES EACH ONE ITS AUTONOMY, SO THAT IT WORKS ON ITS OWN WITHOUT THE NEED FOR THE OTHERS.”
1) It took approximately 50 hours to miniaturise each of Manara’s drawings on the dials. 2) An artist getting ready to paint the deep blue of the sea. 3) To enhance the scenes, a lacquer has been applied as a topcoat on the acrylic painting. 4) The painting has all been done by hand, using a brush the width of a single eyelash. 5) The finished dial is then paired with the watch mechanism. 6) The hands are discreet, leaving the drawings to star on the face of each watch. 7) The watch hands are then attached to the movement. 8) Winding the crown to ensure everything is ticking perfectly. 9) The UN-320 self-winding manufacture movement has a power reserve of 48 hours. 10) The artist’s workspace.

“It is clear that these women represent an ideal. If we look at Greek classicism and the Renaissance, one can see that the morphology of the physical model has changed over the centuries. I see my work as a continuous reinterpretation of the ideal model.”

High in the Swiss mountains, artisans at the Ulysse Nardin headquarters in Le Locle worked for approximately 50 hours to miniaturise each of Manara’s drawings on the dials, a surface which is roughly ten times smaller than the original watercolour paintings.

The art of miniature painting shows that perfection is indeed in the details. There is an explosion of colours in the sensual details. From the deep blue of the sea to the coral reef barrier, to the little wave details on the surface of the water and the colour of the mermaid’s lips and jewels, it has all been painted by hand using a brush the width of a single eyelash, so patience is key.

To enhance Manara’s erotic scenes, a lacquer has been applied as a topcoat on the acrylic painting, reflecting the light and nobility of the art work.

Ten pieces per drawing will be produced in polished stainless steel and ten pieces in rose gold, making the series limited to a mere 200 pieces in total.

Powered by the UN-320 self-winding manufacture movement and beating at the rhythm of silicium technology, 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 colour 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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