Ulysse Nardin Acquires Ebel’s Chronograph Caliber 137

Ulysse Nardin has taken another step toward manufacturing independence by purchasing the rights to Ebel’s proprietary Caliber 137, a chronograph movement originally developed for that brand in 1995 and recently used in Ebel’s 1911 BTR collection of men’s watches. WatchTime talked about the new acquisition with Ulysse Nardin CEO Patrik Hoffman, who elaborated on the company’s plans for the nearly 20-year-old caliber and its little-known connection with Ulysse Nardin’s own perpetual calendar movement.

Ebel has in recent years put more of an emphasis on its ladies’ models and shifted its focus away from high-end mechanical watches for men, which is presumably the reason that the company, according to Hoffman, approached U.N. about purchasing the rights to Caliber 137. “Ebel does not want mechanical chronographs in its collection and will not use that movement anymore,” Hoffman said. “We acquired all of the ebauches, the tools, the plans, and even hired five employees from Ebel that were working on making that movement.”

The movement, which Hoffman reveals will be renamed Ulysse Nardin Caliber 150, will be manufactured at the firm’s facility in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, where it makes all of the components for its existing movements. Ulysse also has a facility in Le Locle, another Swiss watchmaking hub.


Ebel’s Caliber 137 will be renamed Ulysse Nardin Caliber 150.
UN's Patrik Hoffman
Ulysse Nardin CEO Patrik Hoffman (left) with a watchmaker

Hoffman also explained why Caliber 137 joining the Ulysse Nardin family is a logical development from a technical standpoint. “When we started, nearly 20 years ago, making our first perpetual calendar, the Perpetual Calendar Ludwig, we weren’t able to manufacture the baseplate,” he says. “So we worked with Lemania, which was working on one for Caliber 137 with Ebel. Ulysse Nardin used the same baseplate for the perpetual calendar movement — which is still used in our GMT Perpetual — that Ebel used for its chronograph movement.”

The soon-to-be-renamed movement will also provide a platform for Ulysse Nardin to add additional complications in the future, Hoffman says. The brand intends to use it a new watch that is planned to launch by the end of 2012.


UN La Chaux-de-Fonds building
The movements will be made at Ulysse Nardin’s facility in La Chaux-de-Fonds.
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  1. Jorge Robles

    Maybe Movado would be looking back to movements they made decades ago, but in my opinion based in two Ebel chronos based in that movement (E-type and an older 1911) is that this movement was not that “good” in terms of long term reliability (more than 3-4 years), because parts were getting stuck, loosing precision(How come?), and expensive repairs to get again into the same problems. Maybe UN will be able to improve it and add its own “DNA”. What I wonder about is that this Ebel 137 movement was originally developed by Lemania from older 1340 and 1341 calibers of the 70’s, and instead of being an improvement, it was/is so-so (my personal opinion and I have several Tissot and Omega watches with these movements and they work better and have more features than the 137, so I can compare!)
    On the other side, there’s still Sellita that produces ETA clones of the 2824, 2892, 7750 and who knows what else. Movado will come with something, and Quartz development is not that difficult. A friend of mine has a son at a local technical institute and the kid was able to make a quartz movement that has chrono (yes chronograph) functions on it. Its true the beast is big but it works, and if this kid can do that, Movado can do it too. Regarding Ebel becoming a Woman’s watch, that’s OK with me after my experience with Ebel….

  2. Jonathan W. Fink

    I find the move by Movado confusing:

    1. Hasn’t LVHM, the previous owner of EBEL, unsuccessfully tried to make EBEL a women’s watch brand?

    2. Where does Movado intend to obtain movements for EBEL as SWATCH is alreadying discontinuing sale of mechanical movements and is soon to be discontinuing sale of quartz movements?

    3. Doesn’t EBEL’s watch making status stand primarily on the production of the Calibres 137 and 138?

    4. If Movado intends to exist a watchmaker of any brands, the only remaining strategy I see is for it to develop its own in house quartz movements.

    5. What are your thoughts?

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