The story of Ulysse Nardin starts not in some rugged port town or glitzy yacht-filled harbour, yet in the mountainous Swiss municipality of Le Locle. Although Nardin was born and raised in a landlocked nation far from the sea, the entrepreneurial young man was quick to recognise the growing demand for marine chronometers. Indeed, he had already worked as an apprentice under the master watchmakers of the region for many years and during this time had been able to form a vision for is own enterprise.
Sure enough, Ulysse Nardin navigational timepieces soon began to set the standard for precision in both civilian and military life. Only a couple of decades after the brand’s founding, Ulysse Nardin timepieces were the choice for many of the world’s most powerful navies and shipping companies.
Although Ulysse was to die at the untimely age of 53 in 1876, his son Paul-David Nardin would ensure that the brand continued to go from strength to strength, winning a Gold Medal at the Paris Universal Exhibition in 1878 for its pocket and marine chronometers. Soon after, Ulysse Nardin was awarded two patents from the Swiss government for the cutting edge technology developed around their chronometer timepieces. By the turn of the century, Paul-David Nardin had overseen the design of no less than nine timepieces equipped with tourbillon escapements to improve accuracy.
Over the next century, Ulysse Nardin would go on to break records across the horological world for the extreme accuracy of their timepieces. By the 1980’s, the brand had established itself as the world’s premier marine chronometer producer and the release of the limited edition San Marco wristwatch, the first minute repeating wristwatch integrating a Jaquemart, represented a new frontier for the company. Soon after, in 1996, the brand celebrated it’s 150th anniversary with yet another stunning wristwatch, the Marine Chronometer 1846.
A series of milestones followed yet the launch of Ulysse Nardin’s first Freak wristwatch is undoubtedly the brand’s major development of the early 21st century. Unveiled in 2001, the timepiece’s revolutionary 7 day-tourbillon-carousel is a first in watchmaking. A truly innovative watch unlike anything ever created, the Freak had no true case, crown or hands, its movement pivoting on itself to indicate time. Naturally, the watch would win the 2002 Innovation Prize for Watch of the Year and another illustrious milestone in Ulysse Nardin history was created.
These days the brand has settled into its role as one of the globe’s most innovative and highly esteemed Swiss luxury watchmakers. Whilst each and every one of Ulysse Nardin’s releases is of the utmost in quality and accuracy, some models have undoubtedly captured the imagination more than others. One such legendary timepiece is the brand’s flagship Marine Chronometer, a triumph of masculine yet elegant nautical style that contains some of the world’s most complex automatic mechanical movement. A tribute to the power and purity of the sea, the watch is perhaps the most representative of all that Ulysse Nardin represents.
Another hugely significant Ulysse Nardin creation is, of course, the Freak. To this day the watch charms connoisseurs and casual fans alike with its mind-bogglingly complex inner workings and gorgeous exterior. Doing away with the classic crown and hands of a conventional watch, the Freak range breaks conventions like few other watches ever could. With the all new Freak X collection, Ulysse Nardin has introduced a technique called silicium marquetry, a stunning mosaic effect for which only Nardin has the ability and know how to carry off.
Never one to be outdone by competition, Ulysse Nardin’s 42mm diver watch is a classically inspired timepiece that ticks all the boxes and more when it comes to this most rugged of timepieces. Inspired by the biology of the shark, that most impressive of marine predators, the 42mm diver from Ulysse Nardin is a uniquely contemporary take on the classic diver watch, using slimmer and more refined lines to bring the style into the 21st century with aplomb.
All in all, Ulysse Nardin is one of the globe’s most respected luxury watchmakers. Combining timeless marine style with avant garde timekeeping technologies, the brand continues to push limits and innovate within the highly competitive field of haute horology.