The story of Ulysee Nardin dates back to the eponymous Swiss watchmaker of the 1840s (who trained under his father, Leonard-Ferderic Nardin), but it’s the company’s more recent history that is perhaps most notable. In 1983, the late, visionary businessman Rolf Schnyder bought the Ulysee Nardin brand and, together with famed watchmaker Ludwig Oechslin, revived the house into one of today’s most interesting and daring watchmakers.
Despite its manufacture being based in landlocked Le Locle, Switzerland, Ulysse Nardin from day one was not only fascinated by the sea but also bet its work on producing nautical timekeeping instruments. By the 1870s, over 50 navies and international shipping companies had Ulysse Nardin marine deck chronometers on board. Today its nautical themed Marine and Diver lines continue the legacy, and no doubt are its most recognised and best seller designs. The Marine line comprises of chronometer, dual time and tourbillon models (and previously included “Maxi” in the name, ie collections were called “Maxi Marine Chronometer” or “Maxi Marine Chronograph.) Their line also includes chronograph creations, such as the Marine Annual Calendar chronograph with a striking Grand Feu enamel dial, and the Marine Regatta (price CHF 15,900) that in 2017 won the sports watch prize at the respected GPHG. Expected to be a top seller, the timepiece boasted a host of chronograph functions, including flyback chronograph and split seconds alongside telling the time in hours, minutes and seconds. And below sea level, Ulysee Nardin Diver watches also shine, such as the handsome Diver Chronograph (price CHF 27,800) with a rubberized black unidirectional rotating bezel. (And again, like the former “maxi marine”, older models can be found which are named the likes of “Maxi Marine Diver” or “Maxi Marine Lady Diver”).
Ulysee Nardin Lady Diver and Marine watches
Despite its clear sport focus, Ulysee Nardin has a rich and varied women’s line that has its own best seller designs. For the Marine collection, there are beautiful chronometers just for women, such as the Marine Lady Choronmeter with a 60 hour power reserve indicator and oversized seconds hand, all set on a beautiful mother of pearl dial (price CHF 35,800). The Diver collection too has some standout dive watches, such as the Lady Diver with a rubberized red unidirectional rotating bezel (price CHF 28,800), a timepiece that is both chic and functional. Those looking for something traditional will like the watches in the Classic collection, such as the Classic Lady Dual Time timepiece with a unique quick time zone setting and permanent home time display (not to mention a very stylish diamond studded 12 o’clock marker and lilac strap).
Freak and Executive collections
The Ulysee Nardin manufacture is always one to push the boundaries of innovation, and to this end are the Freak and Executive collections - that may not be the top seller watches or explore nautical timekeeping like the Marine and Diver lines – but are both forces in their own rights. The award-winning Freak watches are free of a crown, hands and dial and have a starting price of CHF75,000, while the contemporary Executive line showcases the technical know-how of the Ulysee Nardin manufacture, with the likes of skeleton tourbillon, astronomical moon phase and dual time models.