STROKE OF GENIUS: THE SCIENCE AND SPIRIT BEHIND AWARD-WINNING WATCHMAKER ULYSSE NARDIN
Since the manufacturer’s earliest days more than 165 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 intriguing 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 muses and technological advancement – combined with stellar artisanship – is its beacon.
Embodying, cultivating and bringing this philosophy to life through every Ulysse Nardin timepiece are President Rolf W. Schnyder and Dr. Ludwig Oechslin. A masterful meeting of the minds, they are the visionaries and pioneers behind Ulysse Nardin today.
Going against the mainstream current of Swiss watchmaking, they 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 and securing an entry in the Guinness Book of Records. Schnyder knew that with the Astrolabium as the company’s first milestone under his ownership, he would be able to elevate Ulysse Nardin to an unsurpassed level of ingenuity, originality and quality. His foresight was correct.
Schnyder and his tour de force dream team, consisting of Oechslin, executive vice president Pierre Gygax, chief engineer Lucas Humair and a team of highly proficient watchmakers, have catapulted the vertically integrated brand to a new dimension, positioning Ulysse Nardin as the king of innovation.
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. As well, 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 proud nod to Ulysse Nardin’s remarkable FREAK, one of the cleverest timepieces ever developed and the first to use silicon. Introducing Ulysse Nardin’s Dual Ulysse Escapement in silicium, the FREAK ignited 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. Awarded the “Innovation Prize” (along with the Genghis Khan, GMT + Perpetual and the Sonata), the FREAK rocked the Swiss watch community and the world.
Steadfast in its journey to remain in the lead, Ulysse Nardin strides forward, looking to its own universe – its leadership, master craftsmen and their dedication to the art of creating mechanical timepieces – to plot its course. As the first to utilize novel materials; forge unconventional relationships, like its joint venture with microparts technology company Sigatec and diamond-production company Diamaze MicroTechnologies; and bring forth fresh design sensibility, Ulysse Nardin surpasses form and function. It remains on a quest for more information, inventiveness and beauty. It is passion that guides its ingenious mind and momentum.