Hubert Burda Media

Ulysse Nardin Showstoppers

An oil rig and a pin-up girl are among the inspirations for Ulysse Nardin’s latest creations.

For its first year showing at SIHH, Ulysse Nardin introduced a number of models ranging from the fun to the functional, each a vibrant showcase for the house’s technical prowess.

Paying homage to the maison’s seafaring roots, the North Sea Minute Repeater, which is limited to 18 pieces and sits at the top end of the price range among this year’s launches, takes its inspiration from the offshore drilling rigs that source the oil that powers our world. A finely crafted rig dominates the watch dial, drawn in champlevé enamel, while another in gold enamel works industriously in the background. Both are set against a black sea and dramatic red sky, and the mechanical cranes move and sound as the minute repeater is activated, the chime a celebration of the melding of the technical and the artisanal.

Should oil rigs not get your heart pounding, Ulysse Nardin has introduced a more, shall we say, sensational option – one that relies on
the allure of the female figure. The Hourstriker Pin-Up is available to just 28 collectors, and features a miniature pin-up girl on its dial, dressed in a cascade of peacock feathers painted in painstaking detail. Upon the striking of each hour, an intricate mechanical complication sweeps the feathers away to reveal the woman in all her glory, and those who wish for an on-demand doffing of garments can employ the push-button for repeat performances. 

Of course, the real showstopper of the fair is one that collectors will just have to keep coveting, because it isn’t for sale. A follow-up to the first InnoVision debuted a decade ago, the InnoVision 2 is a concept creation that provides a preview of 10 patent-pending innovations that the world will see implemented in Ulysse Nardin creations over the decade to come. These include a dual constant escapement, which will take mechanical accuracy to unprecedented levels; a “silicum” balance wheel whose mass is much lower than its brethren; gold gear wheels that improve energy efficiency; and even a revolution in terms of time display, with hours 1-11 displayed manually, and hours 13-23 shown digitally.