How often do you get hands-on with amazingly rare and complicated Ulysse Nardin timepieces and chow down a great rare Kona-crusted New York strip in the process? Yeah, not that often. So, when I was invited to a dinner highlighting Ulysse Nardin’s latest über complications, Baselworld novelties and boutique exclusives at the Boca Raton Capital Grille, I leapt at the opportunity. I mean… steak, champagne and watches… what could be better?
I’ll tell you what could be better… getting serious hands-on time with watches that will most likely never make it into my collection, like the Ulysse Nardin Freak Blue Phantom, Stranger, Tellurium Johannes Kepler (Part of the limited Trilogy Set), Skeleton Tourbillon and Marine Chronograph. (Okay, so I may have a shot at that last one.) These watches were enough to make a person Freak out… get it… Freak… I slay me.
Sorry for that. I’ve had a lot of caffeine today. Anyway. The watches. Normally, when one sees a uniquely complicated watch these days, they tend to be rather large. In fact, often times, they are, in a word, massive (Audemars Piguet and Hublot, I’m looking in your directions). Not so with the top-of-the-line Ulysse Nardin. Their complicated timepieces (they file them under the “Exceptional” Collection) are surprisingly reasonably sized.
For example, the now famous Ulysse Nardin Freak Blue Phantom ($153,500) has a 45 mm white gold case. Not tiny by any stretch of the imagination, but immanently wearable, especially since housed within those 45 mm is a 16-jewel manual-wound eight-day carrousel orbital flying tourbillon Caliber UN-208 movement. Same goes for the rose gold 45 mm Stranger ($112,000) and platinum 44 mm Skeleton Tourbillon ($85,000) with its open-worked Caliber UN-170 manual-wound movement.
There are a lot of creative, remarkably innovative and very cool complicated watches out there. But, there is something special about the watches of the Ulysse Nardin Exceptional Collection. There’s sense of occasion to them not usually found in other manufactures. They’re just more fun.
Take the Ulysse Nardin Stranger, for example. This $112,000 rose gold music box watch plays Frank Sinatra’s “Strangers in the Night” via a rotating music box-style disk sitting atop its Caliber UN-690 64-jewel, self-winding movement. You could probably count the number of music box watches out there on one hand, but none of them pay homage to the Chairman of the Board other than the Ulysse Nardin Stranger. Like I said, fun. The only downside to the Stranger is its weight. It’s a bit hefty, but no so heavy that you wouldn’t get used to it.
On the slightly more attainable end of the spectrum is the Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronograph in titanium and steel with a blue rubber strap and white dial. Running $12,700, this 43 mm watch is just cool. It sits very nicely on the wrist and is pretty comfortable. It’s a good daily wearer. The self-winding Caliber UN-150 chronograph movement is on display through the sapphire caseback. While not as dramatic as the others, this watch definitely speaks to me.
The star of the night has to be the Tellurium Johannes Kepler, part of the Trilogy Set of limited edition pieces. With only 100 examples ever produced, this is most assuredly the only Tellurium Johannes Kepler I will ever have the pleasure of holding. Here’s why the Ulysse Nardin Tellurium Johannes Kepler is so cool…
The Tellurium Johannes Kepler “rotates the Earth in its true geographical shape seen from above the North Pole. A flexible spring bends from the Tropic of Capricorn to reveal the part of the Earth lit by the Sun and to indicate the time and place of sunrise and sunset. The moon rotates around the Earth. The dragon hand indicates the eclipses of the sun and the moon. The perpetual calendar completes one turn each year.”
That’s nuts, right? The Caliber 111/2 UN-87 self-winding movement lives inside of a simple (-ish) 43 mm platinum case that complements the watch’s enameled dial and functions, rather than distract from them. The Tellurium Johannes Kepler along with the Planetarium Copernicus and the Astrolabium Galileo Galilei served as the inspiration for the Ulysse Nardin Moonstruck.
The dinner was hosted by Ulysse Nardin’s flagship Boca Raton Town Center boutique, so there was a slew of other Nardins on display, like the Moonstruck, multiple Marine Divers, Freaks galore, a Sonata Streamline, Womens Divers and GMT Perpetuals. The photos below show the watches I highlighted as well as the others. Seriously, Ulysse Nardin has come a long way as a brand and in terms of watchmaking. The pieces fresh from Baselworld this year, including some gorgeous women’s watches, are definitely worth a look.
There was even a Ulysse Nardin Classico Horse that made an appearance on one of the guest’s wrist. Anyhoo, for more info, visit Ulysse Nardin’s site, their boutiques or check out the details below. Oh yeah, the rare Kona-crusted New York Strip was really good, too.