Baselworld Preview: Ulysse Nardin’s Musical Stranger


Ulysse Nardin StrangerUlysse Nardin is no stranger (pardon the pun) to complicated watches with chiming mechanisms, having already released its Carnival of Venice minute repeater this year. Its latest such timepiece melds horological savoir faire with Rat Pack cool: the Ulysse Nardin Stranger chimes the melody of the iconic 1966 Sinatra song, “Strangers in the Night” on the hour or on demand.

Developed by Ulysse Nardin watchmaking guru Dr. Ludwig Oechslin, with the input of brand partner Dieter Meier, former frontman of Yello and so-called “Godfather of Techno Music,” the Stranger continues a tradition of musical timekeepers that includes the Genghis Khan and Alexander the Great Westminster Tourbillon minute repeaters. The automatic movement that powers the watch, Ulysse Nardin’s in-house Caliber UN-690, uses silicon for its escapement and anchor (Ulysse Nardin is a pioneer in the use of silicon, which it calls by its French name, “silicium,” in watchmaking) and incorporates a novel system for setting the time, via a crown that is operated by a pusher rather than by pulling it out. Meier, who was a friend of the late Ulysse Nardin CEO Rolf Schnyder and became a shareholder in the company in 1983, was an inspiration for the timepiece.

The stranger’s movement, which took five years to develop and includes functions that emulate those of a classical music box, is visible through a sapphire crystal in the caseback. The integrated pusher in the crown is used to control several different functions, including winding the movement, advancing and retreating the date, and setting or correcting the time. The user simply turns the crown forward or backward to perform the various operations. The on/off pusher that activates and deactivates the chiming mechanism is located at 10 o’clock; the wearer uses this to “program” the watch to play its “Strangers in the Night” melody on the hour or not at all. The Ulysse Nardin Stranger will be a numbered, limited numbered edition of 99 pieces in rose gold; the price has not yet been set, but Ulysse Nardin says that it will likely be between $115,000 and $120,000. (Click on the photos to see larger images. More technical data can be found below.)

Ulysse Nardin Stranger - angle
Ulysse Nardin Stranger - mood

Technical characteristics:

Movement: Caliber UN-690, automatic; 64 jewels; 48-hour power reserve; silicon escapement, anchor and balance spring

Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds; chimes played on the hour or on request; on/0ff selector for chiming function; functions activated by integrated pusher crown

Case and strap: 18k rose gold case, diameter = 45 mm; water-resistant to 30 meters; nonreflective sapphire crystal front and back; caseback with medallion; on leather strap with folding buckle

Dial and hands: Smalls seconds and date display at 6 o’clock; Roman numeral indices; music box mechanism on rotating disk with 10 blades

Limited edition of 99 numbered pieces

Ulysse Nardin Stranger - front

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