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Alongside a new dive watch (Diver X Skeleton) and a new chiming watch (the Blast Hourstriker), Ulysse Nardin just ahead of Watches & Wonders 2021 debuts UFO, a table clock that literally rocks as it displays time on three dials, all under a glass dome.

The new Ulysse Nardin UFO, a 10.3-inch high ‘swinging’ table clock with three dials.

We’ll provide details about the watches in upcoming posts. Below we help you identify the new Ulysse Nardin UFO.   

Collaboration

Teaming with Swiss clockmaker Maison L’Epée, well known in recent years for its whimsical collaborations with pioneering independent watchmaker MB&F, Ulysse Nardin has constructed UFO, a sixteen-pound, 10.3-inch tall aluminum and glass clock built with a rounded base that allows the clock to swing from side to side like mechanical waves around its axis. The UFO swings up to 60° from its axis – an amplitude of 120 degrees, with no affect on its precision.

The UFO, or unidentified floating object, is the futuristic interpretation of what Ulysse Nardin’s designers, engineers, and watchmakers think a marine chronometer should look like in 175 years, according to Ulysse Nardin CEO Patrick Pruniaux. “We always look ahead,” he says. “We wondered what a marine chronometer designed in 2196 would be like.”

The clock’s imbalance and swinging motion is meant to conjure images of the perpetual movement of the ocean. Ulysse Nardin’s 175-year history, which this clock honors, includes more than a century of making award-winning marine chronometers.

Six barrels confer a remarkable one-year power reserve when fully wound.

Glass and dials

The clock’s ‘imbalance’ starts with a blue half-spherical aluminum base fitted with a tungsten mass. The base and glass bell are connected to a bayonet mounting system, which echoes marine chronometer construction where the top glass could be unscrewed.

Romain Montero, a 26-year-old artisan glass blower who works for the Swiss-based Verre et Quartz, a technical glass-blowing workshop near Lake Neuchâtel, creates each glass cover by hand. The process is labor-intensive, and for each cover finished, two others were attempted without success, according to Ulysse Nardin.

L’Epée requires 663 components, and plenty of time, to build each UFO, with the three trapezoidal dials being among the clock’s most complex components to construct. According to the manufacturer it takes twenty-eight hours to manufacture eight of the dials. Three are placed into the UFO, which allows the owner to display three different time zones at once, each seen from a different angle.

One of three titanium dials on the UFO.

The three blue-hued dials face outward around the top the clockworks, which are fully visible. And among the many spectacular sights within the clock are the six massive barrels that confer an incredible year of power reserve when fully wound with forty turns of a key. 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).

UFO’s dramatic slow-beat, large-diameter (49mm) brass balance wheel. The size and the leisurely 3,600 bph frequency (one per second) of the balance soothes the viewer while also contributing to movement’s ultra-long power reserve.

At the top of the movement L’Epee and Ulysse Nardin have installed a dramatic slow-beat, large-diameter (49mm) brass balance wheel. The size and the leisurely 3,600 bph frequency (one per second) of the balance is meant to both soothe the viewer while also contributing to movement’s ultra-long power reserve. And to put a finer point on the clock’s meditative rate, you’ll find a dead-beat second indicator just below the balance. 

 

Specifications: Ulysse Nardin UFO

Movement: UN-902 caliber table clock, manually wound movement
 displaying three time zones, hours, minutes, deadbeat second, 
675 components, six barrels, extra-large oscillator (49mm),  0.5 Hz /3,600 Alt/H, one-year power reserve.

Case: Aluminum and blown glass measuring 263mm (H) x 159mm. Weight: 15.8 pounds, 
75 timepieces

Price: $41,100 (limited edition of 75)

 

 

Three optical “eyeballs” and three legs dominate the insect-like profile of TriPod, the latest MB&F desk clock co-creation with L’Epée. The rule of threes is further demonstrated by the clock’s three movement levels, an unusual three-day clock dial and by the fact that the clock is actually the result of a three-way collaboration between MB&F, L’Epée 1839 and designer Maximilian Maertens.

The new MB&F/L’Epée 1839 co-creation, called TriPod.

The new clock, which both makers debuted last week during Geneva Watch Days, arrives about a year after the debut of T-Rex, another cooperative venture that was the first of a trilogy of half animal/half robot creations that MB&F calls Robocreatures.

The TriPod performs its time-telling duties with more user interaction than is required by most clocks. To see the time, the user can either peer into a smallish dial placed atop the colorful insect-like clock body, or – preferably – look directly into one of the three glass orbs (TriPod’s ‘eyes’) that magnify the dial to make it more legible than it appears using the naked eye.

With either method, the user sees a dial composed two concentric, rotating disks and three sets of hour numerals placed around the perimeter of the dial, each numbered from 1 to 12. Making one full revolution in thirty-six hours means the dial indicates three sets of hours and minutes, each of which can be spied individually through one of the glass ‘eyes.’

Sculptural movement

TriPod is about ten inches high and is framed in plated brass. Three legs support a colorful body that houses a 182-component three-dimensional sculptural movement by L’Épée 1839. Like most L’Epée movements, when fully wound (by key) TriPod offers a full eight-day power reserve.

This ‘insect’ body is made from cast acrylic, which provides strong shock resistance and also means the clock is relatively light, weighing about six pounds. The body’s neon green, blue or red translucent shields allow a view of the clock movement, which is seen directly in the center of the body to mimic an insect torso.

TriPod launches in three limited editions of fifty pieces each in neon blue, neon green and neon red. Price: $24,500.

 

Specifications: MB&F/L’Epée TriPod

Display: Hours and minutes are indicated on two concentric dials visible from each of the three optical mineral glass spheres. Dials make one full rotation in 36 hours.

Body: Approximately 10 inches high by 12 in diameter. Weight: 2.8kg (about 6 pounds), 95 parts, plated brass, optical mineral glass, fluorescent acrylic shields.

Movement: L’Epée 1839 in-house designed and manufactured movement, balance frequency: 18,000 vph (2.5Hz), one barrel, power reserve eight days, 182 components, Incabloc shock protection system, manual-winding: double-ended key to set time and wind the movement.

 

As if ported through a wormhole, MB&F’s Starfleet Explorer arrives to earth just as time itself seems to have stalled. The new desk-sized steel clock displays hours and minutes atop a skeletonized steel frame that supports an engaging, palladium-treated eight-day L’Epée 1839 movement.

Essentially a compact version of the 2014 Starfleet Machine (the first clock co-created by MB&F and L’Epée 1839), this new co-created skeletonized ‘space station’ utilizes its smaller frame wisely with a topside display showing the hours and minutes. Two darkened rotating discs at the top of the clock perform this task with clarity.

The Starfleet Explorer can be displayed in two different poses: on its three massive curved steel legs or turned sideways with its open-end resting on the desk.

At the very peak you’ll see the minutes, shown digitally in five-minute intervals, as they rotate and appear within a curved, green, blue or red metallic window (or aperture, in tech speak). The Starfleet Explorer indicates the hours using a (matching) colorful hand along a ring just below the minutes.

But, as with so many of its creations, MB&F provides an extra treat within the clock’s steel skeleton. Below the two darkened time-telling discs MB&F has designed (and L’Epée has realized) three colorful ‘spacecraft’ that rotate around the center of the clock in a fanciful table-side five-minute ‘orbit.’

Three colorful ‘spacecraft’ that rotate around the center of the clock.

Eight-day movement

Just below all the time displays and fantastical spacecraft you’ll see that the L’Epée 1839 in-house eight-day movement is placed horizontally despite the vertically positioned escapement. This means viewers can easily eye the to-and-fro of the balance wheel, escape wheel and pallet-lever.

With a vertically set escapement, viewers can easily eye the to-and-fro of the balance wheel, escape wheel and pallet-lever.

All the gearing (steel or palladium-treated brass) is also quite visible just beyond the regulation mechanism, in large part thanks to the C-shaped steel frame.  

MB&F was kind enough to design the Starfleet Explorer so that it can be displayed in two different poses: on its three massive curved steel legs or turned sideways with its open-end resting on the desk. Of course, the clock can also be turned upside down if desired, a feature that helps when winding or setting time on the clock.

MB&F is launching the Starfleet Explorer as three limited editions of 99 pieces each in blue, green and red.

Price: CHF 9,900 (approximately $ 10,200)

Specifications: MB&F/L’Epée Starfleet Explorer

Display:

–Minutes: indicated by a fixed curved aperture on the mobile upper dome, performing a complete rotation every 60 minutes. The minutes aperture and the hour hand are satin-brushed and anodized, in blue, green or red.

–Hours: indicated by a mobile hand, performing a complete rotation every 12 hours on a fixed disc. The hour dome and the minutes disc are satin-brushed and feature MB&F’s signature numerals.

Main structure: Height: approx. 11cm (4.3 inches) by 16.5cm (6.5 inches), 19 parts

Materials: stainless steel for the main structure, hand-lacquered polymer for the three ‘spacecraft.’

Movement: L’Epée 1839 in-house designed and manufactured movement, 18,000 vph frequency, one barrel, eight-day power reserve, Incabloc shock protection system, manual-winding: double-ended key to set time and wind the movement; Mechanism and mainplate in palladium-treated brass