The Swiss have ultimately set the bar for timepiece quality. If you are on the quest of looking for the pumping heart of Swiss haute horlogerie, you will find it nowhere else other than the Jura Mountains in the alluring metropolis of Le Locle. This is the birthplace of the famous Swiss luxury watch manufacturing company, Ulysse Nardin.
The company was named after its founder Ulysse Nardin and has been using this name for over 170 years. It is also amazing how the company has operated out of the same building headquartered in Le Locle, Switzerland since 1865. Ulysse Nardin is a great enthusiast of heritage and it is through their ability to combine cutting-edge technology with a unique heritage from marine chronometry which sets them apart from other brands.
The eponymous brand managed to capitalize on the increasing popularity of marine chronometers which were on demand for precision navigation in the golden age of sea travel before the advent discovery of the aeroplane. Regardless of advances in technology, the company ever since has engraved this specialisation in their DNA and it remains prevalent in the brand`s prodigious timepieces today.
During the “quartz crisis”, the company was at the brink of bankruptcy until the genius horologist Ludwig Oechslin and the passionate businessman Rolf W. Schnyder teamed up to buy the whole company. The two new owners gave Ulysse Nardin a renaissance, building it on its marine heritage with a dash of constant innovation. Ulysse Nardin is currently at the forefront of technological advancements in the watchmaking industry, especially with their most recent Freak Vision masterpiece.
Ulysse Nardin is a great preserver of its culture and heritage with a dash of imaginative and futuristic endeavours and constantly on the quest of discovering new avenues to exploit new technologies and materials. One typical example is the company`s growing interest in the use of silicon in the watchmaking industry. Just to mention a few of its innovations, the Ulysse Anchor, the UlyChoc silicon-based shock-absorber and the Dual Ulysse escapement made out of diamond.
Despite 170 years of innovation and being in the era when all other brands seem to be running out of ideas, Ulysse Nardin is still sailing through, pushing to the limits of design, technology, engineering and consistently mind-blowing and freaking out watch enthusiasts across the world.
Ulysse Nardin first trained in horology under the assistance of his father, Leonard- Frederic Nardin. His skills were further perfected when he met two master watchmakers who were very famous in the area and beyond the mountains of Neuchatel, Louis JeanRichard-dit-Bressel and Frederic William Dubois
After his tutelage from the two experts, Ulysse was ready to take his company to greater heights. The company`s first ground breaking product was the marine chronometer. By the mid-18th century, Ulysse Nardin was at its peak and had supplied the navies of over fifty countries around the world.
The 1980s were a hard time for everyone. The brand was purchased by watchmaker Ludwig Oechslin in conjunction with businessman Rolf Schnyder. The two new owners of Ulysse Nardin re-launched the brand aiming at producing sophisticated timepieces with the help of modern manufacturing techniques and materials.
Ulysse Nardin`s first advancement was the "Trilogy of Time". The outstanding collection was incorporated into three different astrological pieces starting in the year 1985. In 1985, the company launched the mind-boggling Astrolabium Galileo Galilei. It displayed solar and local time, the eclipses and the orbits of the sun, moon, and positions of several other major stars. The watch featured 21 distinct functions and was ranked the world`s most functional watch in 1989.
The Neuchatel used to publish official statistics concerning its chronometer certifications and on their last publication, the name Ulysse Nardin appeared 4,324 times out of a total of 4,504. Thus out of the certificates awarded, Ulysse Nardin won a mind-blowing 95% of the total!
In 1988, the Astrolabium was followed by two more astronomical timepieces, the Tellurium Johannes Kepler and the Planetarium Copernicus. The 1988 Planetarium was named after the stargazing theatres called planetariums and of astronomer Copernicus, and the 1992 Tellurium was named after the Latin 'Tellus' meaning Earth, a Tellurian and astronomer Johannes Kepler.
There were a lot of complications in Ulysse Nardin`s sophisticated "Trilogy of Time" collection. Just the Cloisonné dial of the Tellurium would take a skilled craftsmen fifty-four processes, twelve baking operations and over fifty hours of work!
Every Tellurium is unique and the rigorous process of transforming a draft sketch on a small metal disc into a unique work of art is easier said than done. This is what makes Ulysse Nardin more expensive and not that much of a favourite by replica watchmakers. In 2014, the company became part of Kering Group after its acquisition.
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