There are watches. Then there are watches. And then there is the Ulysse Nardin Genghis Khan Haute Joaillerie.
The Genghis Khan, a gold-plated, diamond-encrusted, vintage Rolls-Royce of a watch, won the Watch of the Year award at the recently held Watch World Awards in Delhi. The awards, held for the first time, were curated by Watch World magazine.
The Genghis Khan is an odd name to give to such a luxurious timepiece. History tells us that the Khan and his Mongol hordes weren’t really a refined milieu. Didn’t the Mongols carry slabs of raw red meat under their saddles to tenderize them? And then eat the mince raw? Or was it the Tartars? Well, you know the type.
This watch, on the other hand, has 148 baguette diamonds covering its bezel and lugs. The dial is made of black onyx, the strap is crocodile, and at the six o’clock position of the watch is a beautiful one-minute tourbillon.
Which in itself is enough to win a watch award. And haute clientele.
But inside there is also a minute repeater, a mechanical system of gongs and bells that uses sonorous metals to tell the time at the pull of a little lever.
When you pull the lever, the Mongol hordes swing into action. Crafted into the dial are little hand-carved jaquemarts, or animated figures. There is a Mongol on horseback with a spear, two sabre-wielding soldiers and a musician (even the Mongols had music).
Every time the lever is pulled, and the gongs chime the time, the little animated figures move in sympathy. And all this, driven by clockwork.
The Genghis Khan packs many watches worth of diamonds and movements into one. It is a visual and mechanical masterpiece.
Is it bling? Yes, but in a nice way.
The watch is available in three models in white and rose gold, and will cost anywhere upwards of half a million dollars per piece. Only 30 pieces each will be made over the next eight years or so, in each model.
At that price, potential buyers of the watch surely have some form of criminal history. Genghis Khan would have approved.