STROKE OF GENIUS: THE SCIENCE AND SPIRIT BEHIND AWARD-WINNING WATCHMAKER ULYSSE NARDIN.
Since the manufacturer’s earliest days more than 166 years ago when its founder, Ulysse Nardin, began making marine chronometers in a mountainous location in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, the watchmaking powerhouse has continually proved that challenges present vast opportunities worthy of exploration. It is these explorations that have resulted in Ulysse Nardin’s unprecedented inventions in horology. Science, innovation and imagination are its navigating forces, and technological advancement combined with exemplary artisanship is its beacon.
Leading the world watchmaking community in unrivaled developments, Ulysse Nardin continues its passionate spirit of invention. Derived from this spirit are great accomplishments, one being independence – an autonomy from other manufactures – that few manufactures can attest to. This desire for independence was ignited when two masterminds came together: Rolf W. Schnyder and Dr. Ludwig Oechslin.
Going against the mainstream current of Swiss watchmaking, Schnyder, the late President of Ulysse Nardin, and Oechslin, joined forces in 1983, when Schnyder purchased the company and sought Oechslin’s expertise and free-thinking approach to timepiece engineering and design. Schnyder was astounded by a wall clock astrolabe Oechslin had built after restoring the Farnesian clock in the Vatican museum and requested that Oechslin reduce the astrolabe to a wristwatch. Thus, the Astrolabium Galileo Galilei, the first watch from Oechslin’s Trilogy of Time series, was born, returning the revered watchmaker to the spotlight.
Since, Ulysse Nardin has been the recipient of 4,300-plus awards in watchmaking – 18 of them gold medals – and has received the greatest number of patents in mechanical watchmaking. Ulysse Nardin was honored by Revolution magazine with its prestigious “New Technology” award for InnoVision, a spectacular watch that represented the groundbreaking use of silicium, among ten additional technical feats. This creation gives a nod to Ulysse Nardin’s FREAK, one of the cleverest timepieces ever created and the first to use silicon.
Introducing Ulysse Nardin’s Dual Ulysse Escapement in silicium, the Freak was an intriguing success. Ultra minimal in appearance and boasting no true case, crown or hands with the movement pivoted to indicate time, the Freak showcased Ulysse Nardin’s scientific knowledge and progressive engineering like no other. It was awarded the “Innovation Prize”, along with the Genghis Khan, GMT +- Perpetual and the Sonata.
Other landmark achievements by Ulysse Nardin include Oechslin’s completion of the Trilogy of Time, featuring the Astrolabium, the Planetarium and the Tellurium. And, in 2009, Oechslin returned to the cosmos for inspiration and revealed the Moonstruck, which concentrates on the moon and its effects on the earth.
Fast forward to 2012 and Ulysse Nardin expands its roster of breakthroughs with the Ulysse Nardin Caliber 118, the manufacture’s self-winding base caliber conceived and executed entirely in-house, and now offered in the Marine Chronometer Manufacture. This caliber continues the advancement of Ulysse Nardin’s use of new materials and techniques; it features a standard anchor escapement that is produced using DIAMonSil, Ulysse Nardin's revolutionary alliance of diamond and silicon, and a furthering of its joint venture with microparts technology company Sigatec.
Routinely seeking to forge unconventional relationships to strengthen its lead and independence in watchmaking, in 2012, Ulysse Nardin acquired Donzé Cadrans, the world-recognized enamel-dial specialist. Treasuring the art of enameling and enamel cloisonné, Ulysse Nardin adds this masterful skill to its in-house capabilities. Other strategic alignments include its collaboration with diamond-production company Diamaze Microtechnology and with Ochs und Junior, the novel concept-watch company founded by Oechslin in 2009. Through this new partnership, Ulysse Nardin aims to establish a stronger synergy between the two companies and consolidate and sustain its long-standing relationship with Oechslin.
Steadfast in its journey to remain in the lead, Ulysse Nardin looks to its own universe to plot its course. Steering the Ulysse Nardin spirit of innovation and independence into new, unchartered territory is Chai Schnyder, president of the Board of Directors, CEO Patrik P. Hoffmann and the expertly skilled and dedicated Ulysse Nardin team. At its Switzerland-based headquarters, true invention and design meet to form the most remarkable timepieces of today and tomorrow.