Ulysse Nardin honors the Zheng He Treasure Boat in its new Classic Collection limited-edition enamel cloisonné timepiece.
The Chinese Treasure Boat (or Bao-Chuan) was a type of large wooden ship in the fleet of admiral Zheng He, the renowned explorer and mariner, who led seven voyages during the early 15th-century Ming Dynasty.
These ships, vast for their day, were 137m long and 55m wide, with nine masts and four decks for up to 500 crew as well as cargo. While they were few in number, Zheng He’s voyages covered extensive territory, traveling through Southeast Asia to Africa and Arabia. With a fleet numbering hundreds of ships, and crews of around 30,000 men, his was easily the biggest maritime expedition of that time. Between 1405 and 1433, Zheng made a total of seven voyages, visiting 37 countries, an incredible achievement. To put things into perspective, Britain at this time had a naval fleet of less than 47 ships. However, things came to a halt with the succession of the Hongxi Emperor in 1424, who cancelled Zheng He’s maritime expeditions permanently, burned down the fleet, and abolished frontier trade.
To accurately portray the Zheng He Treasure Boat, Ulysse Nardin invited enamel specialists Donzé Cadrans for the intricate enamel cloisonné technique so valued by collectors. In this ancient art form, which dates back to the early 4th century, craftsmen employ fine gold wire to create the compartments, within which the enamel is carefully deposited. Every cloisonné dial involves much effort and patience, requiring 50 hours of artisanal expertise and 26 separate processes to bring a scene to vivid life.
Handcrafted from 18-karat rose gold and powered by the self-winding UN-815 COSC-certified movement with a 42-hour power reserve, this Classic Collection watch boasts the characteristic accuracy of every Ulysse Nardin mechanical piece. The watch will retail at CHF 39,800.