The Innovision: Ulysse Nardin’s Far Out Concept Watch

The Innovision 2

For its debut at SIHH, Ulysse Nardin pulled out all the stops. The brand introduced 19 new watches, including a concept watch. And it presented three new in-house calibres: the UN-113, housed in its Marine Annual Calendar Chronometer; the UN-128, in its Marine Tourbillon; and the UN-155, in its Marine Regatta. The new calibres bring to 25 the number of movements the brand has developed in-house. 

Ulysse Nardin is one of the few top-tier Swiss watchmakers that use in-house calibres extensively. The watchmaker is also known for its impeccable craftsmanship. Since it acquired Le Locle enamel specialist Donzé Cadrans in 2011, the brand has shown off its mastery of the fine craft of enamelling in several timepieces. Over half the new watches Ulysse Nardin unveiled at SIHH have enamel work on the dial, to a greater or lesser degree. 

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Surprisingly, buying a Ulysse Nardin will not break the bank. The new version of the Ulysse Nardin Classico Manufacture, which has a grand feu enamel dial in the navy blue shade that is the signature of the brand, will set you back less than HK$70,000. The grand feu technique evolved in the 17th century. Great skill is applied in attaching layers of enamel to a metal surface and then cooking them again and again at exceptionally high temperatures to achieve a remarkably durable colour. The technique gives the new Classico Manufacture a stunning shine. The self-winding calibre UN-320 is the same as in previous versions, and case size is still 40mm.

The Classico Manufacture

In partnership with America’s Cup yachting team Artemis Racing, Ulysse Nardin unveiled its Diver Chronograph Artemis Racing. Only 250 will be made for sale. In keeping with the long association the brand has with maritime folk, the chronograph is rich in references to aspects of the sea: the wave pattern prominent on the bezel, the ultramarine colour, the fine engravings of the Artemis Racing catamaran on the dial and the back, and the Artemis Racing logo on a sub-dial at 9 o’clock and on the bracelet. The timepiece not only looks good, it is a diver’s chronograph that performs well in every respect. A rubberised screw crown makes the watch water-resistant to 200 metres, and gives a diver a better grip when starting or stopping it in the water.

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More whimsical is the charming Ulysse Nardin Hourstriker Pin-Up. It is a chiming watch adorned with a burlesque dancer and two peacocks, which are brought to life on the hour and half-hour. One of the peacocks that hides the dancer lifts its plumage to reveal the dancer’s sensual silhouette. The Hourstriker Pin-Up depicts the chosen scene more subtly than previous Ulysse Nardin watches with a sexy theme, so the wearer won’t be blushing every thirty minutes. The timepiece is hand-painted with acrylic colours. The painting is so meticulous that the miniature on the dial takes up to 90 hours to finish. Should you wish to take your dancer and peacocks for a plunge to cool off, the watch is water-resistant to 30 metres. It is fitted with the self-winding calibre UN-610, which has a power reserve of 42 hours. The watch is available in rose gold or platinum. Only 28 pieces of each version will be made.

Ulysse Nardin Hourstriker Pin-Up

One of the most impressive concept watches at SIHH was the Ulysse Nardin Innovision 2. The watchmaker uses ideas tried out in its first Innovision, which appeared a decade ago, and takes them even further. The timepiece incorporates 10 innovations. Ulysse Nardin has patents for four of them and has applied for patents for the rest. 

The Innovision 2 is so advanced that almost all its parts have something novel about them, including the escapement, balance wheel, gear wheel, bridge, winding system, time display and even the minute hand. Among the main innovations are the Dual Constant escapement, a constant-force escapement containing a structure said to be able to reduce friction and so improve accuracy; and the Grinder self-winding system, which turns even the tiniest amounts of kinetic energy into potential energy, so little energy is lost when the wearer is idle.

Ulysse Nardin has demonstrated some of the novel features before, such as the unconventional dial; the distinctive minute hand; and the absence of a crown. But the watchmaker has found a new way to display time by showing the hours in apertures that number them from one to 11 before midday and from 13 to 23 after midday, so the wearer knows independently whether it is night or day.

The Innovision 2

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