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