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Only Watch UFO

The Ulysse Nardin futurist ovoid table clock called UFO gets a suntan for the only watch biennial

This year, the timepiece auctioned by Ulysse Nardin for Only Watch is nota wristwatch but a wacky high­ flying clockmaker's object, a work of art, a piece of design and architecture, a toy, quite simply: the UFO, a table clock ready to welcome you on board for a new entertaining odyssey, in a "unique piece" version with an orange hue.

lndeed, the electric orange palette of Only Watch has sprung out in touches on the Ulysse Nardin UFO! The out-of-the-ordinary object, already venerated by traditional clock lovers and acclaimed when it was released in April 2021, is already sold-out in its metallic blue version of which the house produced only 75 pieces. The UFO is making an energetic return to center stage for the auction patronized by H.R.H. Prince Albert Il of Monaco, established by the Monegasque Association against Muscular Dystrophy.

The spherical aluminum base of the clock on which the blown glass dome is secured by a bayonet system, is made orange by a special PVD surface treatment (anodized). The three connecting cylinders and the three lower ties of the movement have also been colored orange. The power reserve disk, the decorative insert with the Ulysse Nardin emblem - the anchor - also colored orange. The three dials also painted, but with a mat appearance unlike the other metallic orange elements.


UFO © Ulysse Nardin

A unique piece, exclusively produced for the occasion, it will be auctioned in November 2021. lts pop details remind us that the orange color is stimulating and full of joy. A call to the nonchalance of sunny days. As if illuminated, energized and sunlit, the UFO sways in the most refined way. So, with this orange version, this is a golden opportunity to acquire a unique original of this art object.

Only Watch

Under the patronage of H.R.H. Prince Albert Il of Monaco, the Only Watch auction was established by the Monegasque Association against Muscular Dystrophy (AMM). This eagerly awaited biennial event will premiere in Monaco as part of the Yacht Show (September 22nd -25th 2021) which has been sponsored by the brand for over a decade. This promotional tour, which will end in Geneva (November 6th) will allow many collectors, fans, aficionados and media representatives to discover the creations. Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the American continent will host stages of it.

The event aims to raise money for research into muscular dystrophy, including Duchenne. Duchenne muscular dystrophy affects around one in 3,000 boys at birth and causes progressive degeneration of all the muscles in the body.


UFO © Ulysse Nardin

Only Watch brings together unique timepieces by luxury watch brands. Since 2005, some 40 million Swiss francs have been raised for this cause thanks to the watches donated by around fifty participating brands.

"This initiative demonstrates, edition after edition, that empathy, altruism and mutual respect, expressed within a collective movement have an extraordinary strength and are a form of hope in a world undergoing great change," explains
Luc Pettavino, President of the Monegasque Association against Muscular Dystrophy.

The Origin of the Object

Swinging, the design abject has just what it takes to revive all your childhood dreams. lt is a sphere, a globe. From the marine chronometers of the 19th and 20th centuries to the Freak in 2001, and then the Blast in 2020, the Manufacture has constantly designed technical and cutting-edge watchmaking abjects.

The Marine Chronometer of The Future

175 years ago, Ulysse Nardin was renowned for its incredibly accurate and extremely reliable ships' watches and marine chronometers. These were prize winning machines, scoopmg up the first prizes in the chronometry competitions of both Geneva's and Neuchâtel's observatories. Forty-five admiralties were kept on course, navigating the high seas thanks to Ulysse Nardin's superlative craftsmanship.

So how to celebrate the future of the brand, while staying true to the desire to make the best time-measuring tools, which was the challenge Ulysse Nardin set himself in 1846?


UFO © Ulysse Nardin

"Reissuing a watch from the past by reusing vintage codes was not part of our creative intentions for this anniversary abject," explains Patrick Pruniaux, CEO of Ulysse Nardin. "On the contrary, we wanted to reverse the trend and make a leap forward of 175 years, rather than a leap backward. We always look ahead. We wondered what a manne  chronometer  designed  in  2196  would  be  like." 

With its 675 components, and triple-dialled time zones, the UFO is the futuristic interpretation of what Ulysse Nardin's designers, engineers, and watchmakers think a marine chronometer should look like in 175 years' time. This UFO has been designed to guide the explorers of the future, whichever seas they may sail.

Rocking and Turbulence

Taking the ocean as the ultimate inspiration, the movement of the UFO is that of the waves made mechanical. The entire structure of the clock is built on an imbalance, on a gentle swing which recalls the ebb and flow of the tides, the perpetual movement of the ocean. The secret of the balance is its blue half-spherical aluminum base, which contains a tungsten mass. The base and glass bell are joined by a bayonet mounting system, which looks similar to the old systems of marine chronometers from which the glass could be unscrewed.

Whereas marine chronometers were housed in wooden boxes and set on gimbles to counteract the effect of the ship's constant sway, Ulysse Nardin reverses this. Here it is the abject itself that makes waves when it is nudged gently. Weighing 7.2kg, the UFO swings up to 60° from its axis - an amplitude of 120 degrees - and the engineers have accurately calculated the center of the gravity/mass/inertia ratio, which allows UFO to swing neither too fast nor too slowly and without significantly affecting the operation of the balance.

lt isn't just the UFO's movement that is inspired by the ocean, the architecture is too. The bell under which this incredible creation is housed suggests floating black and yellow cardinal buoys - abjects that also provide inspiration for the X sitting in the spine of the table clock. From above, the construction of the UFO seems almost kaleidoscopic, with its emblem, the marine anchor, dominating the heart of the rosette.

Cosmic Ovoids

The UFO is mesmeric enough, but attention should also be paid to the ovoid glass bell under which it sways. lt has been created by Romain Montera, a 26-year-old artisan glass blower who works for Verre et Quartz, a technical glass-blowing workshop located on the shores of Switzerland's Lake Neuchâtel. He had the responsibility for handcrafting for every one of the 75 numbered limited-edition UFO glass covers.

"The biggest challenge was the overa/1 aesthetics of the glass tube
," explains Montera. "To get 50 spot/ess glass bells, I had to blow out three times the number, 150 bells. You need to blow gent/y, as if you want to make a soap bubble. Even so, the glass is imperfect at the base and is sensitive to micro-vibrations during blowing, but there is beauty in those imperfections and sma// flaws."

To manufacture each 3mm-thick tube, it was necessary to stretch the glass when it was still hot, for more than 45 minutes, using only the naked eye, on a traditional glass-maker's lathe at temperatures of up to 1,500 degrees. As it is heated the glass is transformed, becomes orange, red, white and morphs through all the hues of pink. The total process takes almost half a day of work: cutting of the glass, blowing, checking the blowing and the measurements, furnace annealing, cutting again, lamination, final and visual inspection, and then cleaning.

Heavy Artillerie

Like all the most successful voyages, it takes an experienced crew. For this particular journey, Ulysse Nardin decided to collaborate with the celebrated clockmaker Maison L'Epée, who has been manufacturing traditional clocks since 1839 and is now famed for bringing the fantastical imaginings of MB&F's CEO Max Busser tolite.

Comprising 663 components, and with one year of power reserve supplied by its six extra-large barrels, and a balance wheel rim that reaches the spectacular diameter of 49 mm, UFO displays the time on three trapezoidal dials, which are so complex it takes 28 heurs to manufacture just eight of them. Having three dials allows the owner to display three different time zones at once, seen from three different angles.

The XXL brass balance wheel beats at 0.5 Hz and the objective is twofold: to maintain a power reserve never before offered - one year - and to make the movement of the abject like a meditation; gentle and soothing with ample time to admire one alternation (hait oscillation) per second. The addition of a dead-beat second adds to that sense of this table clock being a meditation on time, with the passing of each second uniformly marked.

Treasure Chest and Key

UFO cornes in a wood treasure chest aged as if it been discovered washed up on a beach; something that appears to corne from the past but with a message from the future contained within. lnside, you will find UFO, but also its operating instructions, its warranty card and a special place for its winding key. lt takes 40 wind-up turns with a square-end stainless steel key to wind up the mechanism for one year. Each dial has its wind-up notch, which is also used to the set the time (four notches in total, one for winding up and one for each time zone wound up using a single key).


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