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Ulysse nardin watch




ID: 54

Price: 1,380.00
Mens 1940



ID: 53

Price: 1,050.00


Ulysse Nardin

The company’s founder Ulysse Nardin is an experienced watchmaker born on January 22, 1823. He studied horology in Switzerland under his father, Leonard-Frederic Nardin, as well as the most skillful watchmakers of that time Frederic William Dubois and Louis Jean Richard-dit-Bressel. Dubois was specializing in astronomical watches and marine chronometers necessary for navigation. That’s why later the company started specializing in the production of marine chronometers.

The company’s history dates back to 1846, when the 24-year-old Swiss man Ulysse Nardin established a watchmaking company and gave it his name. While his father Leonard-Frederic Nardin assembled only alarms and repeater watches, his talented son got his money’s worth, as in the second half of the XIX century during the all sorts of marine discoveries, the return of a ship to its harbor depended mostly on the accuracy of the vessel’s chronometer, which determined its position. The company founded by Ulysse Nardin started producing marine chronometers. That’s why the symbol of Ulysse Nardin is a stylized anchor.

Owing to their unique accuracy, the chronometers of Ulysse Nardin have soon become legends. In 1983, at the Chicago Universal Exhibition, they received the Gold Medal prize. In 1906, in Milan, and in 1909, in Buenos Aires, they repeated their success. And yet before that, in 1862, at the London International Exhibition, the company was awarded a special prize in the category “Complicated watches, pocket chronometers”. And then in 1867, it received a silver medal for a new pocket chronometer with an independent secondhand. And, finally, in 1873, the new type of the pocket chronometer wound without a traditional outer crown, was awarded “Progress Medal” – a medal for the progress in technological development.

The company’s success was nailed down by the son of Ulysse Nardin, David Nardin, who took over the company in 1876. In 1935, Ulysse Nardin elaborated Caliber 22-24 – the first chronometer with two secondhands and the accuracy of measurement of 1/10 of a second. The prototype of this timepiece won gold medals at the international exhibitions in Barcelona and New York.

In 1936, the Chronosplit Berlin model was presented at the Olympics in Berlin. It was this model which was used to record results with a 1/100 of a second accuracy.

As the years passed by, the company’s products were getting more and more popular. One of the company’s major achievements at the early 80s was the revival of the cloisonné enamel technique. It was invented by the Romans and it was much appreciated in the Arab countries and medieval China. Michelle Vermeau, a master of Ulysse Nardin, has spent years to revive the ancient tradition and improve technologies. The production of the cloisonné enamel is a time consuming and complex process. The future image is engraved on the basis, which is a round gold dial, with the help of a needle. Then a special instrument is used to turn the scratches into slots to place fine gold wires 0,07 mm thin. Then a nib of a goose feather is used to apply a microscopic layer of weightless colored powder to fill the pools and gaps. Then the object is placed into the oven, where the powder melts and becomes solid. This procedure is repeated on average up to 10 times. It helps make the image look deep and dimensional. An enamel layer is less than a millimeter thin. One false movement of a hand or a few seconds longer burn, and the work has to be started from scratch.

Absolute masterpieces of complication are the Jungle series timepieces featuring minute repeaters. The dial depicts a mysterious jungle scene in which a tiger, a toucan and a hornbill all interact together. If you press the repeater button, the scene starts moving. With a musical sound, the tiger starts waving its paw, striking the hours, the toucan starts moving its beak, striking the minutes. This watch is presented in only 18 items worldwide. Notwithstanding their high price, nobody is faking these watches, as the technology is too complicated to be imitated.

The repeater watch Erotica is considered to be the finest timepiece from Ulysse Nardin. Its cloisonné enamel dial has two prominent erotic pictures. All figures are made of 18-carat gold, and each strike of the repeater makes them move. Erotica is, first of all, a vintage watch. And this series is limited to only 28 timepieces.

It should be noted that Ulysse Nardin produces not only complicated and expensive mechanical timepieces. Among the company’s models there are also many simple watches meant not only for collections, but also for a long-term wearing.

The quartz revolution has driven Ulysse Nardin to the brink of bankruptcy. The last decades of the XX century were marked, as it seemed, by a clear victory of quartz watches of the mechanical one. As a result, the family company Ulysse Nardin was going through tough times.

However, it turned out that such state of affairs has played into the hand of the company. In 1983, Rolf Schnyder, an experienced businessman, purchased Ulyss Nardin. In order to help the company out he had to do something extraordinary. The chance played its role. One day Rolf Schnyder met that very Ludwig Oechslin, a genius of watchmaking, who once was entrusted by the Vatican to restore the Farnese Clock of the XVII century and then he devoted four years of his life to writing a disseration about the watch as a model of the Universe. The meeting of Rolf Schnyder and Ludwig Oechslin, when they agreed on cooperation, was meant to be a landmark in the history of modern watchmaking.

Rolf Schnyder started his part of work with searching the materials about the company’s history. He was buying the ancient Ulysse Nardin watches in the antique stores. The businessman was going to offer customers the unique timepieces combining both traditional art and new technologies. The company’s motto of that time was: “Ulysse Nardin will revive through watches that have never existed before”.

At that time, Ludwig Oechslin created its first chef-d’oeuvre within the company – “Trilogy of Time”. The first piece in the “Trilogy of Time” was Astrolabium Galileo Galilei. Historically, an astrolabe is a massive, complex and heavy device the sailors and astronomers used in old days. The case back was purportedly made translucent. Should the owner flip the watch over, he will see the continuous work of the wheels and mainsprings. It was estimated that Astrolabium Galileo Galilei would lag for less than a day in 144 thousand years! For a good reason this watch was on the cover of the Guinness Book of Records in 1998. The success of the new timepiece was stunning, but Schnyder and Oechslin went to all lengths. As a result, there was a second item of the “Trilogy of Time” series - Planetarium Copernicus, which thanks to its fantastic complication and uniqueness also made it to the Guinness Book of Records. The dial of this comparatively small wristwatch displayed almost the entire Solar system. It offered two visions of the world – the antique and the modern one, two models – one created by Ptolemy and the other by Copernicus. It shows the motion of the planets around the Sun. And it also determines their positions in relation to the Earth. Planetarium Copernicus allows the reading of the astronomical positions of the planets in the Solar system. With the help of the special manual provided with the watch a person will be able to calculate the influence of the planetary bodies on its life.

There is a very rare series of these timepieces – only 65 items – with a dial made of a meteorite! This gift of the heaven was found in Greenland in 1896. In almost one century, the Swiss watchmakers used it in watches to symbolically underline the link between the Man, the Earth and the Universe.

The last one in the “Trilogy of Time” series was Tellurium Johannes Kepler. Its cloisonné enamel dial displayed the map of the Northern hemisphere seen from above the North Pole. An inhabitant of Sydney or Buenos Aires will, of course, be able to order the version with the Southern hemisphere map. The contours of the continents are made of gold wire folded and attached manually. The World Ocean and the seas are represented in the blue enamel, and the continents are made of green, brown and yellow enamel. A curve crossing the dial demonstrates the actual day- and nighttime of the Globe.

When the “Trilogy of Time” was unveiled, Ludwig Oechslin was asked a question whether it was haphazard. The watch genius replied:  “There was no haphazard. When I started working on Astrolabium, I realized that the astronomical watches must reflect the Universe. But it’s not possible to embody the entire Universe in one piece. That’s why the “Trilogy of Time” presents three schemes, three aspects of Cosmos. The first one is the perception of time, the second one is the motion of celestial bodies, and the third one is the correlation of time and the motion of celestial bodies”.

Having finished his work on the famous cosmic Trilogy - Astrolabium Galileo Galilei, Planetarium Copernicus and Tellurium Johannes Kepler -  Ludwig Oechslin started considering the construction of the perpetual calendar timepiece for a daily use. In 1996, to mark the 150th anniversary of Ulysse Nardin the company unveiled a limited edition of watches featuring the perpetual calendar of a new construction - Perpetual Ludwig. These timepieces had the unprecedented functional capabilities: all indicators from the date to years were adjusted with the help of just one crown, which allowed to modify them both forward and back. The Perpetual Ludwig construction has anticipated the new trend in the horology -  as back in 1996, a large indicator of time (with separated units) started gaining popularity.

It should be noted that nowadays Ulysse Nardin keeps developing and presenting the limited editions of special high quality watches. The use of inventions patented by the company allows it to produce the most complicated models unattainable for other masters. The examples are such popular models as Jaquemart Minute Repeater with a minute repeater and Hour Striker San Harco with a hammerman figure striking the hours.

The watches of the “Trilogy of Time” series have no secondhands. It was a conscious decision of the watchmakers, as the secondhand reminds of the impermanence of time. And these timepieces pursued a different objective. They are to remind of the eternity.

It is obvious, that the timepieces of Ulysse Nardin are not to be treated like utilitarian products. These are the rare and expensive articles of luxury. The masterpieces created by Ulysse Nardin are devoted to the traditions and quality. They combine the diligence of engineers, designers, jewelers and artists.  And their high price is measured not by the cost of the materials used in their production, but by the volume of human labor invested in them. 

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