Ulysse Nardin is one of 17 haute horlogerie watch brands participating in this week’s Geneva Watch Days, an exhibition of new timepieces taking place throughout the Swiss city. The Le Locle-based manufacture is taking the opportunity to introduce an entirely new collection, called Blast, whose attributes include a new, self-winding, skeletonized caliber with a flying tourbillon, a sculpted, multifaceted case design inspired by the lines of stealth aircraft, and a newly designed, “one-click” folding clasp.
The Blast continues in the vein of predecessors like the Executive Skeleton X, with its heavily skeletonized movement architecture on display behind a sapphire dial. Its flying tourbillon is ensconced in an X-shaped cage and the hour and minute hands are centered in the dial’s “shape-within-shape-within-shape” architecture: a large “X” framed inside a rectangle, framed inside the circle of the bezel. The movement, Caliber UN-172, is an evolution of the existing Caliber 171 that powered the first Executive Skeleton Tourbillon models, and adds a major upgrade: a platinum micro-rotor, visible from the front at 12 o’clock, which winds the silicon mainspring automatically to amass a three-day power reserve. (Caliber 171’s manual-winding design allowed for a seven-day power reserve.) Impressively, the movement achieves this complexity despite being composed of a relatively scant 137 components, 23 of them devoted to the tourbillon.
The use of a self-winding movement in a skeleton tourbillon watch is a first for Ulysse Nardin but it is not the only first in this new collection. Another is the robust, sharply angled case design, modeled on the wing profiles of stealth fighter jets, whose “aligned edges and serrated triangular patterns,” according to Ulysse Nardin, “make them invisible to radar and deflect radio waves.” From the side, the 45-mm case has an aerodynamic look, particularly the silhouettes of the sharply angled triple lugs that integrate the case into the strap. Speaking of the strap, the other brand-new element making its exclusive debut on the Blast models (four in all) is the self-deploying buckle with a new patented three-blade system that opens in a synchronized manner with one click and closes securely into place in one fluid motion.
The Ulysse Nardin Blast is available in four executions (or, in the brand’s current parlance, possibly “Xecutions”): The Blue Blast ($44,000) has a titanium case middle, blue PVD-treated titanium bezel, blue highlights on the movement bridge and tourbillon cage, and metallic gray hands with luminous coating. The “Antarctic palette” of the White Blast ($46,000) uses a white ceramic case and gray titanium bezel, smooth gray metallic colored bridges, and dark blue for details like the UN logo, indices, and hands. The Black Blast ($46,000) utilizes black ceramic for the case and bezel, with matching black treatments on the rectangular bridge, along with red to highlight both the movement’s “double X” motif and the balance wheel — the first time Ulysse Nardin has used color on this element. Lastly, the Rose Gold Blast ($54,000) opts for a bicolor look, with the precious metal used for the lugs, indices, hands, and crown, combined with a black DLC case middle and black ceramic bezel; the bicolor motif is repeated on the tourbillon cage, while a blackened finish distinguishes the “X” and its rectangular frame. Each model in the Blast series is offered with a choice of straps, in structured or plain rubber, alligator or calfskin leather, and velvet or denim.
I remember a time when Ulyesse Nardin made beautiful marine watches, now there in the realm of the ridiculous and ridiculously “LARGE” and fringe watches like the Freak now the Blast which takes a personal watch reader to read the time!?!
Remedy: Ulysses Nardin needs a new CEO.
Aside from borrowing heavily from the defunct ‘Code X’ of the first decade of the new Millennia, and others architecturally designed ‘Open Face Dials’ i.e. TAG-Heuer’s Carrera Heuer 02 cosmetically, the new Ulysee-Nardin as a Tourbillon is provocative and audacious in the new ground of it’s Case dynamic.
To large, to ridiculous, to expensive.
Question; Has Ulysses Nardin lost its maritime mojo? Ulysses Nardin needs so return to 40 and 41mm maritime Classico watches with panache.