Baseball pitching legend Randy Johnson — the 6’10″ World Series champ famously nicknamed “The Big Unit” — is a longtime collector of watches and a big fan of Ulysse Nardin in particular. Johnson has been an official “friend of the brand” since early June, when he and Ulysse Nardin CEO Patrik Hoffman announced their strategic partnership, which would culminate in the development of a new timepiece made in the athlete’s honor, to be called — what else? — the Big Unit.
Unveiled at a special World-Series-watching event at New York City’s 40/40 Club by Johnson and Hoffman, the Ulysse Nardin Big Unit Chronograph wears its baseball influences — some suggested by Johnson himself — rather tastefully and subtly. It’s got a small baseball icon as the counterweight on the central chronograph seconds hand, and the bezel has the number “51″ — Johnson’s number — where the “50″ would normally be. The words “Big Unit” and “Limited Edition” adorn the periphery of the subdial at 6 o’clock.
The watch has a monochromatic “black on black” look, with accents of rose gold, red and blue on the dial and bezel. The case, which is made of stainless steel and coated with black rubber, is 45.8 mm in diameter and water-resistant to 200 meters. It has a screw-down crown and sapphire crystals in the front and back, both with nonreflective treatment.
The caseback window offers a look at the automatic movement, Caliber UN-35, which is equipped with a 30-second chronograph, small seconds, and date indication and has a 42-hour power reserve. The watch comes on a black rubber strap with two black ceramic elements and a folding clasp.
The Ulysse Nardin Big Unit Chronograph is a collectible not only for watch aficionados but for baseball fans as well: each of the 100 watches comes packaged in a handsome, baseball-themed box accompanied by an official major league baseball autographed by Johnson. Ulysse Nardin has set the price for the limited edition at $15,500 and says that it will be available at retail in late 2012 or early 2013.
Movement: Ulysse Nardin caliber UN-35, automatic; 42-hour power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds; chronograph; date
Case and strap: 45.8-mm stainless steel case with black rubber coating; nonreflective sapphire crystals front and back; screw-down crown; water-resistant to 200 meters; on rubber strap with black ceramic elements and folding clasp
Dial and hands: Black dial with blue and red accents; small seconds subdial at 3 o’clock; 30-minute chronograph counter at 9 o’clock; customized red-tipped chronograph hand with baseball-symbol counterweight
Limited edition of 100 pieces
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