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Timed to coincide with the start of the lunar New Year on February 1, Ulysse Nardin has launched a new black ceramic ‘Blast’ version of its Moonstruck astronomical complication.

The Ulysse Nardin Blast Moonstruck

This newest Moonstruck is a direct descendant of the Tellurium moonphase complication watchmaker and engineer Ludwig Oechslin created for Ulysse Nardin in 1992 as part of a trilogy of astronomical watches. And like that watch and subsequent Moonstruck models, the new, very contemporary Blast Moonstruck is meant to depict the rotation of the sun and moon as well as related astronomical events and measurements such tidal times, world time and of course local time and date.

The new Moonstruck maintains the collection’s centrally located depiction of the Earth as seen from North Pole. But for this Blast version, Ulysse Nardin has micro-engraved the continents and set them inside a sapphire crystal box encircled by a rose gold ring. That ring is engraved with the thirty-one days of the month to indicate the days.

A hyper-accurate moonphase indicator, using a realistic depiction of the Moon, shows the Moon’s position in relation to the sun, which Ulysse Nardin artisans have created from bronzite, a mineral rarely used in watchmaking. Even more impressive, the Moon display changes to appear a little brighter or dimmer in line with the lunar calendar.

Pushers on the left-hand side of the case allow the user to adjust the main time display forward or back to adjust to another time zone.

Worldtime is indicated via city names placed around the dial, as is often seen in traditional world time watches. While the hands can indicate the local time, they can also be set to any other time zone or to any one of the twenty-four time zones that corresponding to the city noted on the fixed flange.

Not surprisingly, Ulysse Nardin allows the wearer a particular ease at changing time zones. For years, the watchmaker has utilized a mechanism for changing the hour hand on its dual-time watches via two-pushers, here located on the left side of the case.

Ulysse Nardin’s own dial-making division has created a night-sky for the Blast Moonstruck on a disk made of aventurine.

Ulysse Nardin explains that the watch’s myriad settings can be set and adjusted using the crown.

“Manufacture caliber UN-106 subsequently manages all the displays on its own as long as the watch is worn, “ according to the watchmaker. “And when it isn’t, it just needs to be put back in the box supplied, which contains an automatic winder designed to take care of the winding and keep its calendar information accurate.”

The Ulysse Nardin Blast Moonstruck is a multi-level 45mm watch in black ceramic and black DLC-treated titanium. It can be worn on a black alligator, black velvet or black rubber strap. Price: $73,900 (limited production).

Specifications: Ulysse Nardin Blast Moonstruck

(Reference 1063-400-2A/3A)

Movement: Automatic UN-106 Manufacture caliber, 335 components, 28,800 vph. Power reserve of 50 hours.

Functions and displays: Hours, minutes, date, moon phase indication, days of lunar month, tidal coefficients, worldtimer, dual time, positions of the sun and moon around the globe.

Case: 45mm black ceramic, black DLC titanium, sapphire crystal on front and back, rose gold oscillating weight, 30 meters of water resistance.

Strap: Black alligator, velvet, or rubber with folding clasp, black DLC titanium and pink gold clasp.

Price: $73,900 (limited production)

Arnold & Son celebrates the traditional Chinese New Year with a limited edition moon phase watch that beautifully illustrates the Year of the Water Tiger, which begins on February 1.

The watchmaker’s Year of the Tiger Perpetual Moon sports a stunning dial depicting a golden tiger standing near a river and lit by a brilliant mother-of-pearl moon. Hematite and aventurine sparkle as the tiger and a luminous, hand-painted waterfall set the scene.

The new Arnold and Son Perpetual Moon Year of the Tiger.

Arnold & Son’s large moonphase display, already one of the most impressive such displays available from a Swiss watchmaker, here brilliantly reveals the waxing and waning of our satellite with hand-painted relief and a generous coating of SuperLuminova.

During the daytime, the moon takes on a grey tint, while in the dark it glows from the center, contrasting nicely with the adjacent deep black aventurine glass.

Arnold & Son artisans sculpted a rose gold tiger with hand-engraved and hand-burnished fur to highlight the remaining portion of the dial. The nearby bamboo is painted in gold powder on a hematite disc, which displays with glittering inclusions.

Inside Arnold & Son places its own A&S1512 manual-wind caliber, created with two barrels, a frequency of 3 Hz and a terrific ninety-hour power reserve.

Finally, Arnold & Son fits a black alligator strap backed with red alligator leather and stitched with platinum thread to the 42mm red-gold “Year of the Tiger” Perpetual Moon. A limited edition of eight, the watch is priced at CHF 52,900 (approximately $57,695).

 

One of our favorite moon phase watches, the Meistersinger Stratoscope, is set to release its darkest model yet.

Announced a few weeks ago, and now ready for delivery, this younger and slightly larger cousin of the excellent Meistersinger Astroscope hits the ether (and stores) with a limited edition model bathed in a rugged diamond-like carbon (DLC) coating. The Meistersinger Stratoscope debuted earlier this year in a steel case with a more traditional sunburst blue and black dial.

The one-handed 43mm watch displays a large, luminescent moon phase using a photorealistic image of our sole natural satellite. Around the lunar image we see Meistersinger’s characteristic double-digit numerals 01 to 12, divided into fifteen-minute increments.

 

The Meisteringer Stratoscope is now available (in a limited edition) with an all-black dial and case.

For this new Black Line Edition, limited to twenty pieces, the moon rotates across a very dark night sky, which is framed by an equally dark black diamond-like carbon (DLC) case. The moon and time display glow in the dark.

Inside Meistersinger utilizes its Sellita-based automatic MS Luna movement to calculate the time and the moonphases. In theory, this moon phase indicator only requires a slight adjustment after 122 years.

Price: 3,990 euros, or about $4,600.

After debuting its impressive Luna Magna earlier this year, Arnold & Son immediately started working on a high-carat version of the orb-set lunar phase watch.

You may recall that the premiere design features an eye-catching, extra-large 12mm spherical moon, with aventurine representing the moon’s ‘dark’ side with marble standing in for the illuminated side.

The new Arnold & Son Luna Magna Ultimate I.

Where that first model was crafted using a 44mm rose gold case, this new model, the Luna Magna Ultimate I, bases its jeweled interpretation in a white gold case of the same size. Instead a time-only dial of white lacquer, this jeweled edition features a white opal subdial the 12 o’clock position.

To represent the vastness of space Arnold & Son replaces the premiere edition’s aventurine with ruthenium crystals. Arnold & Son explains that ruthenium is an extremely hard metal that belongs to the platinum group. The Swiss watchmaker’s artisans reshape the ruthenium crystals, place them into the faceplate and then blue the plate–all to stunning effect.

Arnold & Son frames the light-refracting dial with a hefty row of 112 baguette diamonds (weighing nearly six carats), which also trail onto the watch’s lugs for extra effect.

The white-gold orb is divided into 161 brilliant-cut diamonds for daytime and as many blue sapphires for night-time.

Finally, on this Luna Magna Arnold & Son creates a new moon. Rather than the marble and aventurine lunar orb we’ve seen previously, this model glows with a three-dimensional moon paved with blue sapphires and diamonds set atop the same-sized white gold orb.

The Arnold & Son hand-wound caliber A&S1021 is designed around the lunar globe and has a power reserve of 90 hours. Note the second lunar phase display, for setting.

The movement

Underneath the newly jeweled Luna Magna Ultimate I is Arnold & Son’s own manual-wind A&S1021 caliber. Designed to propel the lunar globe, the movement has an impressive 90-hour power reserve. And luckily, all of the eight owners of this watch will be able to view the movement through a sapphire caseback, which also offers a second lunar phase display with easy-to-read graduations for correcting the globe setting.

Price: CHF 169,000, or about $184,000. The Arnold & Son Luna Magna Ultimate I is a limited edition of eight pieces.

 

 

A small watchmaking venture started as an experiment continues to design watches that offer simple solutions and unorthodox displays for complex timekeeping functions.   

By James Henderson

This year marks the fifteenth anniversary of one of the longest running experiments in the watch business. Back in 2006, Ludwig Oechslin (of Ulysse Nardin fame and until 2014 curator of the Musée International d’Horlogerie (MIH) in La Chaux-de-Fonds) and his fellow Ochs und Junior co-founders asked the watch world a contrary question – if you could buy a watch with complications that were distilled down to their most basic level, would you?

Dr. Ludwig Oechslin

Then they took it a few steps further. What if the case was not polished, but somewhat, well, basic?

In other words, what if you could buy a watch conceived by one of the most famous watch creators of recent times, one that possessed marvelous complications that apart from the dial of the watch, remained hidden away beneath a solid caseback?

In a world where watches are meant to be highly polished and eerily similar in look and feel, what if you went a different way?

The famed 39mm Ochs und Junior Annual-Calendar. Check out this video of Ludwig Oechslin explaining the date spiral for his perpetual calendar, which is also relevant for his moon phase watch.

Fast-forward to 2021. While the experiment continues, it appears to be a resounding success with Ludwig Oechslin and Ochs und Junior continuing to swim against the mainstream. Here’s a short, three-part history of the idiosyncratic watchmaker.

The Foundation

 This period involves Ludwig Oechslin, Beat Weinmann and Kurt König (the owner of Embassy, the Lucerne-based jewelry store that Beat Weinmann was working for at the time). Ochs und Junior produced a very small number of esoteric watches. These were known to a small group of collectors.

The Ochs und Junior Two-Timezones Date with rose gold PVD.

The Growth Period

This was when Ulysse Nardin was brought in as a partner and Ochs und Junior set up shop in a studio space, a little bit off the beaten path in Lucerne.

The Ochs Period

In 2019, after a lot of thought and consultation within the family, Kornelia Imesch and Ludwig Oechslin bought all the shares of Ochs und Junior. But it is important to note that this was only done once it was clear that some of the “Junior Ochs” would join the company.  And to that end, it has been agreed that two of the younger Oechslins will be joining the team, which is now based in La Chaux-de-Fonds.

Inside the Ochs und Junior Annual Calendar.

Ochs und Junior today is a family company, led by Dr. Ludwig Oechslin. The rest of the band includes Christian Gafner, who is head of brand and design, Violaine Baudouin, the marketing chief, and Louise Krank (a junior), communication designer. The company’s watchmakers are Jost Schlatter and Masaki Kanazawa, who is a Master Watchmaker for Ludwig Oechslin’s special projects.

Ludwig Oechslin’s ideas will continue to set the tone moving forward, which is really what has made Ochs und Junior what it is today. As the company evolves, it continues to grow through experimentation. Below are some of Ochs und Junior’s most recent designs.

All three Ochs und Junior Calendario Cent’anni models.

The Calendario Cent’anni

This 100-year calendar, designed by Ludwig Oechslin, features a dial with indication of hours, minutes and seconds in addition to correct date, month, leap or non-leap year. The 40mm watch is titanium and is powered by a Ulysse Nardin UN-320 automatic movement. The Arabic character or indices with hour/minute hands are coated with SuperLuminova.

The Calendario Cent’anni (CCAII), a 100-year calendar.

Here’s how it shows the time and date:

  • The dates (28, 29, 30 or 31 days of any month) are visible for 100 years, without needing correction for the length of any month (including February in leap years), and are displayed via a traveling, rectangular dot on the date spiral.
  • The month and leap years are on a central rotating disk. The leap year and the three following years are displayed on a decentralized disc, rotating together with the position of the month-display. Finally, the central hour and minutes with the seconds rotating are seen on a small disk at 6 o’clock.

    The Calendario Cent’anni (CCAI), or 100-year calendar.

Prices begin at CHF 15,230 (approximately $16,600).

The Settimana Limited

This watch is designed to help savor a favorite day of the week, allowing the wearer to set six “standard” days and one “extra special” one. It colorfully indicates hours, minutes and seconds, and all seven weekdays by clockwise rotating dot between 1 o’clock and 7 o’clock.

The trio of Settimana models. They colorfully indicate hours, minutes and seconds, and all seven weekdays by clockwise rotating dot between 1 o’clock and 7 o’clock.

The titanium-cased Settimama measures 36mm in diameter and is powered by a Sellita SW 200-1 automatic movement. The watch is available in three limited color versions of 11 pieces each. Prices start at CHF 3,046, or approximately $3,300.

The new Moonphase Trilogy. All are 39mm and cased in titanium

Ochs und Junior moonphase

This special edition of the Ochs und Junior Moon Phase is available for pre-order in three 39mm variations, and can be purchased as a trio or individually.

The 39mm moonphase Emerald Green model features a lacquered dial with black galvanized moon disk and golden markers and hands. It also features a jade-stone as the sun at the 12 o’clock position.

Option one features a black galvanized dial and red lacquer-coated moon disk with red markers and hands with a case of black PVD-coated titanium. Another option has a red lacquer-coated dial with black galvanized moon disk, black markers and hands in a titanium case. Option number three has an emerald-green lacquer-coated dial with black galvanized moon disk, and gold colored markers and hands. This emerald green watch will feature a jade sun at the 12 o’clock position. The straps are made from red or black textile with a titanium buckle. Prices: CHF 7,400, or approximately $8,100.

The Ochs und Junio Moonphase with black galvanic dial.

And there are more interesting developments to come, but suffice it to say after fifteen years Ochs und Junior is here to stay.