UN of Style: Ulysse Nardin watches

The 2013 Ulysse Nardin Maxi Marine Chronometer
The 2013 Ulysse Nardin Maxi Marine Chronometer

If you look at the UN products of the past 20 years and sort of project them out over the next 20 years, what you will find is that UN is one of the most technically advanced watch companies that has ever hit Switzerland.

First of all, the designs are nice. While it’s true that every company has a design or a “signature” look, UN has several “signature” looks and a few NEW LOOKS as well.My favorite is the “Marine Chronometer,” and my next favorite is the “Perpetual Calendar Acqua.”

Well maybe it’s the other way around; I’m not sure yet. Can you imagine a perpetual calendar that you can take with you diving or skiing? Unheard of! Who in their right mind would even conceive of this feat?

And then there is the “Freak.” Seeing pictures of it is nice, but actually holding one of these unearthly things in your hand or putting one on your wrist is truly another world. We had one in the office so that we could photograph it for the front and back covers. It is unbelievable!

NOTE: When I was about 13 or 14 years old, I found myself in a toy store watching a salesman demonstrating a gyroscope. I was astonished and had to have one. Later, at the same store, I saw two metal rods balancing on two pivots. At the end of these rods were magnets. These magnets were opposing each other, causing the two metal rods to move back and forth with a life that I had never seen before. I’ll never forget this.I was standing there mesmerized while watching these magnets sort of floating in front of me with a force that was invisible to me. I just watched until someone came by and touched the magnets, causing the rods to fall off of the pivots. I was shocked and realized that I could have been standing there for an hour watching this magic. I looked at the person who had touched the magnets, like he was a criminal.
Didn’t he know that I was watching this magnetic dance? When the pivots dropped to the table, I was upset and felt like I had been taken out of the world of Harry Potter and transported back to the department store toy section. Reality was shocking in those days. I did get over it, but I still own a few magnetic toys.

Now, many years later, I re-experienced those feelings when I took hold of the “Freak.” When you have this timepiece in your hands, you are transported to the magic world of horology at its best! The case is beautiful, thick, heavy and fin-ished to perfection. When you see the movement and the gears working, you have entered the world of horological witchcraft and magic.

When a watch can do to me what the “Freak” has done, or what the “Astrolab” did to me when I had one of them in my hands, it is magic. You can relive how the Master Watchmakers felt 200 years ago when the first complicated watches were created and you can experience the magic that the commom man felt when he got his first pocket watch that ticked.

When you could take the mechanics of a Tower Clock that tolled the time, to the small town you were in – and now you could have this in your pocket or on your wrist, it is truly magic. This is what horology is all about. It’s the Norman Rockwell painting of a small boy’s look of wonder and adventure when he gets his first magic wand or his first two-wheeler.

Ulysse Nardin has leap-frogged ahead of the entire watch industry and has drawn the line between magic and the normal pedestrian everyday watch styles created by others. I would suggest to other watch companies that they get rid of their muggles and find a wizard or two, just to catch up.

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