Ulysse Nardin revisits its futuristic UFO marine chronometer clock, made in partnership with Maison L’Epée, adding three new colorful limited editions.
All three debuts are tied to a retail partnership: a green model represents Yoshida in Japan, ice blue is for Bucherer and a champagne-colored UFO commemorates the watchmaker’s relationship with The Hour Glass in South-East Asia.
As we noted when Ulysse Nardin debuted the first UFO in 2021 to celebrate the watchmaker’s 175th anniversary, the sixteen-pound, 10.3-inch-tall aluminum and glass clock is the futuristic interpretation of what Ulysse Nardin’s designers, engineers, and watchmakers think a marine chronometer should look like in 175 years.
The UFO’s rounded base allows for a swinging motion that is meant to conjure images of the perpetually moving ocean and Ulysse Nardin’s history as a maker of award-winning marine chronometers.
Ulysse Nardin sold out its first seventy-five piece run of the dark blue UFO. In addition, a second UFO tinted orange sold for CHF 380,000 at the Only Watch charity auction in 2021. This newest UFO trio, each to be made as a limited edition of thirty pieces, will mark the clock’s final production.
The clock rocks
Maison L’Epée and Ulysse Nardin constructed the UFO to swing up to 60° from its axis – an amplitude of 120 degrees – without altering its precision.
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. The manufacturer says it takes twenty-eight hours to manufacture eight of the dials. Three are placed into each UFO to allow the owner to display three different time zones at once, each seen from a different angle.
The UFO features six massive barrels that confer a full year of power reserve when fully wound with forty turns of a key. 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 balance frequency (one per second) soothes 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.
Ulysse Nardin includes a limited-edition certificate and a winding and setting key in the wooden box that houses each UFO.
Specifications: Ulysse Nardin UFO
Three limited editions of 30 numbered pieces:
UFO | Yoshida Exclusive – 9023-900LE-8A-YOS
UFO | Bucherer Exclusive – 9023-900LE-3A-BUCH
UFO | The Hour Glass Exclusive – 9023-900LE-9A-THG
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: Colored aluminum and blown glass measuring 263mm (H) x 159mm. Weight: 15.8 pounds.
On the seventiethanniversary of its groundbreaking Fifty Fathoms dive watch, Blancpain unveils the Fifty Fathoms Tech Gombessa, a new dive watch with a bezel that makes it possible to measure immersion times of up to three hours.
The bezel, and an accompanying hand that completes one revolution in three hours, combine to form an innovative new dive watch tool. Blancpain CEO Marc A. Hayek and diver and photographer Laurent Bellesta have filed for a patent for the mechanism at the heart of the new watch, which Blancpain first began to develop in 2019.
Blancpain launches the new watch as it also celebrates the tenth anniversary of Gombessa , an undersea research initiative that Bellesta and Blancpain helped create in 2013. The Tech Gombessa also marks the launch of a new line in Blancpain’s dive watch collection.
Bancpain explains that since the first Fifty Fathoms diver immersion times have notably extended, with the most experienced divers now capable of spending several hours underwater. Hayek and Ballesta devised the new three-hour timing mechanism to “meet the needs of all extreme divers, starting with the members of the Gombessa Expeditions whose research work involves long- duration deep dives.”
With an exterior that fits within the existing Fifty Fathoms family, the Tech Gombessa is nonetheless loaded with technical tweaks.
Inside the 47 mm Grade 23 titanium case demonstrating 300 meters of water resistance, Blancpain fits a new movement, automatic Caliber 13P8 with an impressive five-day power reserve. In addition, Blancpain created a black ceramic bezel inlay instead of the traditional sapphire, which has been given a stronger curve and tilt (towards the dial).
Blancpain has also endowed the Tech Gombessa dial with a new ‘absolute black’ finish said to capture almost 97% of the light. The watch’s hour-markers luminescent block-shaped orange appliques with blue luminescence, colors that differentiate between time-related information and diving times.
As with all Fifty Fathoms timepieces, the crown is screwed down, though here it is protected by a new crown guard with a trapeze-shaped design to match the watch’s new lug shape.
From the back, the wearer can see the new movement’s anthracite-colored oscillating weight, stamped with the Gombessa Expeditions logo, and which itself is given three large openings to better spy the movement.
Finally, Blancpain will supply the Fifty Fathoms Tech Gombessa with a black rubber strap screwed to the back of the lugs. The strap is reinforced with titanium and is teamed with an extension for wearing the watch over a diving suit.
Owners will also receive the watch in a special water-tight presentation box that houses a rest for the watch, the strap extension, a travel pouch, a magnifying glass, as well as a set of dividers and cutting tools.
Case:47mm grade 23 titanium, helium valve, central lugs attached from the inside of the case middle.
Dial: Absolute black,luminescent orange block-shaped appliques with blue emission, unidirectional 3-hour scale bezel with black ceramic inlay tilted towards the dial with white luminescent green markers, 3-hour dive-time hand.
Movement:Caliber 13P8, self-winding with 5-day power reserve.
Bracelet:Integrated black rubber strap with extension.
As Creative Director for La Montre Hermès, Philippe Delhotal has been the driving force behind some of the marquee brand’s most creative, time-bending watches.
As we prepare to see what the watchmaking division of this global fashion powerhouse will debut during Watches and Wonders 2023 in late March, in this interview we learn a few details about how Delhotal approaches his design duties at Hermès. Delhotal also discusses his views regarding the differences between traditional men’s and women’s watches.
iW: Hermès is often perceived as a quintessentially feminine brand, though you do make men’s watches. How did that come about?
Philippe Delhotal: Hermès is a feminine brand indeed. When you visit us, you’ll see watches, handbags, scarves, perfume for women. And we have watches for men, too. Until now, about 80% of our production has been in ladies’ watches.
We have been making watches since 1928 and back then already they were already a big part of our portfolio. We would buy great movements from the likes of Jaeger-LeCoultre, Vacheron Constantin, and many others. And at the time movements were very small, and roundand this allowed us to make watches for women.
What, for you and Hermès, are the important elements that make up a watch conceived for women?
The form watch (a watch other than round) has a stronger character than a round watch. The Cape Cod, for example has a real identity, a personality. But it is difficult to find the right shape. That is the strength of Hermès today. The round Arceau’s character, however, comes from its asymmetrical lugs. This gives it a lot more originality and presence.
Round watches account for eighty percent of the market, so you can see how difficult it is to give them an identity. But you have to remember is that there are not many types of ladies’ watches around. And a woman will dress in a manner that is very different from men. On the other hand, many men’s watches are quite simple, and they are good for the casual chic look.
Finally, there’s a cultural aspect. In some cultures, wearing a man’s watch is much more common. European women tend to wear more masculine watches. In Italy for example, many women wear Panerai or Rolex. If you go to Asia, you’ll see far more feminine watches, with diamonds, and so forth.
You started focusing on men’s watches in 2011. What are the specificities from the standpoint of design and market?
A breakthrough with men’s watches is quite complicated if you haven’t seen there right from the start. It is hard to be considered legitimate and be accepted. And then there is the mechanical connotation: Men don’t choose Hermès for a mechanical watch off the bat, they go to Audemars Piguet, Cartier, or IWC.
From the design standpoint, a man’s watch must be original, surprising and also of very high quality. The first project that made our reputation in the world of male watches is the Temps Suspendu.
It won a prize at the Grand Prix D’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG), which gave us a lot of visibility. It was a surprising piece because no watchmaker had even thought of stopping time. They’d rather do the opposite.
What in your experience is the difference between male and female buyers?
A man we’ll simply go for a male watch, a woman will choose according to what she feels at that moment. Women will change clothes, will change handbags, will change shoes, so they will have many more accessories than men depending on their choice of clothing or costume. So they will choose a watch according to the momentary function. A woman will change her watches a lot more often than we will, barring collectors of course.
When Yves Saint-Laurent designed his first costumes for women, it was considered a revolution. Women have so many ways of using accessories in the good sense of the word, compared to men, who have a few suits, some neckties, and maybe cufflinks, that no one wears, and watch, which is the only jewel today, though we do see occasionally rings or those little bracelets. It’s developing.
A big subject of discussion, even controversy, these days is gender fluidity. Is that having an impact on the world of watches?
I am convinced that we are right at the start of jewelry for men. Seeing a woman with a very nice suit today doesn’t shock anyone. but if a man wears a dress, other than in Scotland, things will get complicated.
When Henry D’Origny designed the Cape Cod, he just wanted to make a watch. And it ended up becoming a part of the women’s world, perhaps because it looked like a link in a chain, it had rounded edges, a hint of jewelry. When we made the model for men, it was a little different. But I must add, women were also the buyers of the male Cape Cod.
At any rate, the success of the house is definitely based on its products. We believe we are seducing our clients, female and male, with an object that is well made and our sincerity vis-à-vis the object. we really put our heart in our objects, we spend a lot of time pondering them, we rethink them, we try to do genuine things, we have doubts at times, a lot happens while the object is maturing, and I think people feel that. And at some point, people just appreciate this product. There is no magic formula.
I think there is a genuine transformation on the social landscape that is happening around us, so that today it’s very difficult to say this is a watch for women that is a watch for men. You just must look at catwalks nowadays, the male ones and the female ones are getting closer and closer. This mix is as much from the female towards the male as it is from the male to the female. I find this extremely interesting, and why not?
Hublot re-engineers the rainbow to brighten its MP-09 Tourbillon Bi-Axis 5-Day Power Reserve, creating a colorized ‘Rainbow’ version of the existing complicated watch.
Rather than rely on gemstones to reflect the light, Hublot has woven colorful high-tech composite materials into the carbon case on the new MP-09 Tourbillon Bi-Axis Rainbow 3D Carbon, and attached it to an equally colorful leather strap.
Essentially, Hublot technicians have braided the 49mm carbon case, combining thin bars of carbon and bars of colored composite together and threading them into a mass that, eventually, is milled into a case. And while Hublot has created single-color 3-D Carbon versions of the MP-09, this new model is the first multi-hue example.
Hublot explains that this technical process, a first in watchmaking, requires that hundreds of colored inserts recreate a natural gradation typically found on watches with colorful sapphires, diamonds or other gemstones. Hublot notes that each insert is cropped with carbon, and polished and adjusted to the nearest micron.
“The new MP-09’s surface is entirely smooth and polished to the touch,” Hublot explains in a press release. “Never before has a watch boasted as many shades of colored composite as the new MP-09.”
Inside Hublot relies on the HUB9009.H1.RA.B movement with manual winding and a 5-day power reserve. The movement comes with a bi-axial one-minute tourbillon for the first axis and a second rotation every thirty seconds for the second axis. This unique double rotation requires the customized curved case, which displays the tourbillon at 6 o’clock.
Oris teams with Canadian aerial firefighters Coulson Aviation to create the Coulson Limited Edition, a Big Crown ProPilot watch with an unusual 3D-printed carbon fiber case and a fiery gradient orange dial.
Oris created the 41mm case with the assistance of Switzerland’s ETH Zurich university (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology). Researchers there utilized a high-grade polymer PEKK developed for the aerospace industry. Technicians weave the material with carbon fiber to create a rigid, ultra-lightweight material.
According the Oris, the process is so precise that you can create a pattern on the case. Most carbon fiber watch cases develop random patterns.
Oris then finishes the watch with a grey-PVD-plated titanium fixed bezel, screw-down crown and case back and a black textile strap. The watch and the movement together weigh a wispy 65 grams.
The fiery dial is meant to recall the work of Coulson’s firefighting pilots, who rush toward blazes while others turn away. Inside Oris fit its excellent and equally innovative COSC-rated Caliber 400, an anti-magnetic movement with a five-day power reserve.