On the off chance that you’re not, Ulysse Nardin is a brand you should be paying attention to. There’s a real energy around the Le Locle-based manufacture – all the burners are firing. And while one of the brand’s most discussed 2019 releases – the exquisitely painted sexy mermaid pieces of the Classico Manara series — is *too rude* for T+T, there’s still plenty of other, less X-rated horology to discuss. Like the new Freak X, a technically toned down take on their iconic rebel that still delivers high impact with less of a hit to the hip pocket. And then there’s the Skeleton X, a modern skeletonised piece that’s technical and cool, especially in the Carbonium case. Finally, if you’re after something a little more everyday and tool-like, there’s a stylish new diver, which offers enough twists on the classic genre to make it worth a second (and third) look. As recently as a few years ago it seemed like Ulysse Nardin was all at sea, but 2019’s tight, focused collection proves the brand is full steam ahead and ready for anything.
Over the last few years, Ulysse Nardin has been greatly expanding its Freak family (a smart move say I), and the latest member is the Freak X, which joins the Freak Out and Freak Vision. Now, before we break down this watch, a quick word about X, which is serving as something of a thematic moniker for the brand this year. It’s a good theme, evoking everything from mystery to gravity to (depending on how many Xs you use) eroticism. All things Ulysse Nardin is quite adept to translating into watch form. Though I can’t help but wonder if UN CEO Patrick Pruniaux is borrowing a trick from his former colleagues at Apple here. Either way, it works. So, the Freak X. This watch is something interesting, and if you’ve been following the evolution of the Freak recently, somewhat expected. It’s something of a hybrid watch — a pared-back Freak if you will. The trademark carousel time-telling escapement (with silicon balance wheel) is still there, but it’s now a module on top of Ulysse Nardin’s UN-118 movement. But it’s more simple in execution than its siblings: there’s less gear and wheel action going on, and there’s a crown where you’d… Read More
It’s fair to say that there’s a fresh new breeze blowing in Ulysse Nardin’s sails these days. There’s a new energy, which has resulted in some great new designs, and refreshed takes on old classics. Case in point is the Torpilleur, a marine chronometer styled watch, which takes its name — appropriately enough — from agile torpedo boats. It’s a watch we’ve looked at before, but the latest configuration is, if you’ll pardon my colloquialism, freaking hot. The blue dial is rich and satiny thanks to the starburst finish, crisply painted with white Roman numerals. The dial layout is neat, with power reserve up top, and seconds (with a smoothly integrated date) at the bottom. The notched bezel adds some texture and dynamism to an otherwise pretty classic 42mm case. Some of the other interesting design elements are the numbered plate on the left-hand flank of the watch, as well as the trademark metal link in the sporty rubber strap. A strap that, it must be said, completely changes the mood of the watch, which I’ve previously seen only on croc. The movement is about as in-house as it gets, all the way down to the silicon hairspring and escapement,… Read More
In my eyes there’s no better backdrop than the French Riviera to launch a luxury dive watch. And it seems Ulysse Nardin think so too, unveiling four new iterations of their Diver Chronometer amongst the glamour and affluence at this year’s Monaco Yacht Show. Plotting a cleaner bearing for the collection with a host of aesthetic updates. Beginning with four brand new textured dials that replace the wave pattern found on the previous version of the Diver Chronometer. There are two regular production models – a deep blue and an all-black dial version — plus two limited editions: the grey-dialled Diver Great White (300 pieces), and a red and gold accented black dial version that’s been specially made to celebrate the Monaco Yacht Show (100 pieces), with the tiny country’s red and white flag displayed at 12 o’clock, and a unique date wheel reflecting this year’s show dates, with a red colouring for the 26th, 27th, 28th, and 29th date numerals. While each dial may differ slightly in colour, they all feature the exact same layout. An indicator at 12 o’clock helps keep track of the power reserve, while the date and a small seconds subdial are nestled neatly at… Read More
Ulysse Nardin recently introduced four new members of its freaky family. With titanium cases and unmistakable style, these watches are known collectively as the Freak Out, and today we’re taking a look at the Freak Out Blue. First, though, a quick primer on the Freak. Conceived by genius watchmaker Ludwig Oechslin, the Freak first came to life in 2001. It shocked not just because of its unconventional use of a flying carousel tourbillon to tell the time instead of hands, but also its groundbreaking use of silicon components. Fast forward to today and the Freak is, for all its familiarity, still capable of shocking. SIHH saw the entrance of the first automatic Freak, the Freak Vision, and now this quartet joins the fray. Powered by the manually wound UN-205, the observant among you might also have noticed that the Freak Out lacks a traditional crown — instead, the time is set using the newly redesigned bezel (which is unlocked by the lever marked with ‘Freak’ text). Winding is achieved via a similar bezel on the caseback (not that you’ll have to do it too often, thanks to the seven days of power reserve). The real pleasant surprise, though, is the… Read More
There are two sides to Ulysse Nardin. One built on the high seas, and historically home to highly accurate marine chronometers. And another that pushes the boundaries of what’s possible in watchmaking, bursting with technical marvels and avant-garde designs. Falling heavily into the latter category is the Executive Skeleton Tourbillon. First introduced in 2016, its 45mm ultra-lightweight titanium case is topped off by a black ceramic bezel and a dial that allows full view through to the openworked UN-171 movement within. Showcasing what Ulysse Nardin does best. The movement features an impressive 170-hour power reserve, as well as a flying tourbillon – comprised of a silicium balance spring and escapement wheel – that takes its pride of place at six o’clock. While large, stylised Roman numerals and polished hour markers appear to float around a centred matte black rectangular bridge. And easy to read sword-style hands are given a coating of lume for maximum legibility. Perfect for your black suit and tie, nine-to-five type exec. If that’s not you however, and you’re after something a little better-fitting for your boardroom persona, Ulysse Nardin have since introduced newer versions of the Executive Skeleton Tourbillon, and below we’ve got your white-collared back,… Read More
Ulysse Nardin showed a refreshingly diverse collection at SIHH, with everything from clean, simple (dare we say, classic) designs, all the way up to the incredibly complex and cutting edge. So, as you can imagine, our favourite picks cover off both ends of the spectrum, from daily wear to more special occasion pieces. And while we kept our focus to four models, there’s a few honourable mentions, particularly the new Torpilleur models, and the epic Deep Dive. Ulysse Nardin Classico Last year, we were collectively besotted by the blue enamel, guilloche Classico. This year, we fell in love all over again with this new, inky black-dialled beauty. Simple, but refined. RRP $12,995 (indicative) Ulysse Nardin Marine Tourbillon To be honest, Ulysse Nardin’s Marine Tourbillon is one of the leaders in its class. First released last year with a white enamel dial, it was a a very pure execution of the design. This time around, the design is a lot flashier, thanks to the guilloche-finished bleu enamel dial, which just sings under the light. RRP $41,700 (indicative) Ulysse Nardin Freak Vision And here’s where we depart from the world of classical design for the aggressively modern. The Freak is a genuine… Read More
After a warm reception to the forward-thinking Freak-based Ulysse Nardin Innovision 2 at SIHH in 2017, the highly anticipated production variant — dubbed the Freak Vision — took centre-stage at the brand’s ocean-themed booth at SIHH. Of the original 10 patents (four issued, six pending) that found their way into the concept watch, three have been integrated into this new production piece, including the recently launched anchor escapement design, large-diameter silicium oscillator, and ultra-efficient “grinder” self-winding system. Cased in a brushed platinum with a blued bezel and case flanks (with a titanium bezel), the 45mm beast wears surprisingly comfortably given its sizeable dimensions, and manages to be the most understated iteration of the Ulysse Nardin Freak I’ve ever seen. The original Freak from 2001 marked the brand’s first foray into silicium component development, and they continue to be a leader in the category. Now, 17 years past the creation of the first Freak, this latest example feels very much like the turning of a page into the next chapter of boundary-pushing Ulysse Nardin creations. While its carousel tourbillon movement setup — where effectively the entire movement acts as a giant tourbillon, with its large boat-shaped bridge structure doubling as a minute hand… Read More