Ulysse Nardin channels 175 years of watchmaking heritage into a single clock
It was in 1846 when a 23-year-old young man named Ulysse Nardin started his own business to create nautical timekeeping instruments inspired by the high seas. It was his deep passion for the oceans that helped Ulysse Nardin s ” establish as one of the leaders in marine chronometers and high-precision navigation instruments – life-saving navigation tools that will eventually earn their place in the highest order of civilians, soldiers and scientific industrialists.
Breakthrough, innovation and technical perfection are anchored in Ulysse Nardin’s DNA. He was the first watchmaker to use silicon in his mechanical movements and today, 175 years after its founding, Ulysse Nardin looks to the next 175 years. This daring vision culminates in the greatest statement of fine watchmaking: the Ulysse Nardin UFO.
Manufacturing the next 175 years
While many of the world’s best watchmakers follow the trend of looking to a single period in their history for inspiration, Ulysse Nardin is embarking on the unconventional path of reinventing the humble chronometer using all of its heritage.
In its visual form, the UFO appears as a very complicated table clock, but intrinsically it is a beautiful work of art encompassing all of Ulysse Nardin’s horological achievements in a single object that mimics the movements of a floating buoy. at sea. The oscillating mechanical movement is of course a nod to the waves that first breathed life into Ulysse Nardin.
On a deeper note, the UFO draws its inner workings from the esteemed 19th and 20th century marine chronometers to the revolutionary Freak watch of 2001 and the striking design of the Blast wristwatch of 2020. This makes the UFO a true representation of the past. , present and future against a backdrop of innovation and exploration of the seas and skies.
It’s the vision of what the designers of Ulysse Nardin predicted the marine chronometer would look like 175 years from now – a beacon of navigation for the next generation of intrepid explorers.
Inside a technical masterpiece
To understand the technical feat of Ulysse Nardin’s UFO, one must delve deeper into this thrilling masterpiece made up of 663 bespoke components. The UFO transforms the organic movement of waves into mechanical movement through the use of a semi-spherical blue aluminum base containing a mass of tungsten – one of the heaviest rare metals in the world. Weighing 7.2 kilograms and measuring 263 millimeters high, the UFO was designed to rotate up to 60 degrees from its central axis when gently pushed.
This platform allows the entire structure to oscillate effortlessly like the tides while also showcasing other breathtaking areas of craftsmanship, which continue to function unaffected, much like a marine chronometer. at sea. The elaborately designed ovoid glass bell is another perfect example. The articulation between the base and the bell has a bayonet fixing system, a nod to the old marine chronometer systems in which the glass could be unscrewed.
The glass bell itself is handcrafted by a 26-year-old glass craftsman named Romain Montero who works for Verre et Quartz – a technical glassblowing workshop on the shores of Lake Neuchâtel in Switzerland. Montero hand-blown each of the 75 numbered limited edition UFO glass lids. The hardest part of the job is blowing crisp glass bells to achieve the most pristine shape associated with every clock. As an indicator of the difficulty of this task, Montero would have to ring 150 bells to produce only 50 that he was happy with. The process itself involves creating a tube three millimeters thick by heating the glass to 1,500 degrees for over 45 minutes – a brittle step that can lead to spontaneous glass breakage.
In total, the finished product requires up to half a day’s work including:
- Glass cup
- Blowing inspection
- Oven annealed
- Final visual inspection
The tiny imperfections of each glass bell are what Montero calls natural beauty and character.
Recruit the masters of watchmaking
Mechanically, the UFO is even more intriguing. The stunning UN-902 hand-wound movement offers three simultaneous time zones perched atop the clock’s spine. Each time zone can be viewed from a different angle and is displayed against a complicated trapezoidal dial – each batch of eight takes 28 hours to produce.
It also has a pioneering one-year power reserve provided by its six large barrels and a captivating 49-millimeter balance crown. The inclusion of a dead second completes the ultimate representation of time with the passage of each evenly marked second.
Creating this feat in modern timekeeping requires an experienced crew, and the UFO Project brought in some of the world’s best watchmaking talent. Ulysse Nardin has collaborated with the famous watchmaker known as L’Epée, a Swiss company that has been making traditional clocks since 1839. Their most notable works of modern times include the fantastic imaginations of MB&F CEO Max Büsser.
Complete a 175-year journey
A bold statement needs a bolder presentation to match, and the Ulysse Nardin UFO delivers on its promises by being packaged in a wooden chest that has been aged to look like beached treasure. The house wanted the project to appear to come from the past, but with a hidden message within the future.
Patrick Pruniaux, CEO of Ulysse Nardin, emphasizes that reissuing a watch from the past by reusing vintage codes has never been part of the company’s creative intentions for such an important anniversary object.
Looking forward to the next 175 years is at the heart of Ulysse Nardin’s UFO and maintaining this forward trajectory will continue to inspire human nature’s passion for the exploration of uncharted territory.
Visit Ulysse Nardin for more information.
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