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Ulysse Nardin - history in time

Monday, 01 September 2008

Ulysse NardinDuring the days of watches, Ulysse Nardin could be regarded both as a luxury item, which is due to its high prices and limited series, and as a very complex, accurate and exclusive mechanism. Jaquemart Minute Repeater model was unable to be reproduced in any other watch company as well as the Hour Striker San Harco model bearing the figure of a hammerer on the dial striking the hour.

The history of this unusual watch company started in 1846 when at the age of 24, Ulysse Nardin, a Swiss, founded his own company that manufactures marine chronometers. Despite the fact his father Leonard-Frederic Jordan assembled only alarm clocks and watches with tutoring, his talented son did not miscalculate. It is because in the second half of the XIX century, during the time of all kinds of marine discoveries, a ship returning into its native harbour mostly depended on the accuracy of ship chronometer that defined the location of a vessel. Because of this, the Swiss chronometers were rated above all, which travelled much more than the Swiss themselves.

Nevertheless, there were even real legends of their accuracy that were popular among sailors. One of those legends was the Ulysse Nardin master chronometers. They were regularly awarded all kinds of medals for their accuracy. In 1862 Nardin received the "Prize Medal" award at the London Exhibition in the category of "complicated watches, pocket chronometers". In 1867 the company received the "silver medal" award for its new pocket chronometer with independent second hand. In 1873 it received the "Progress Medal" award for new type of pocket chronometer without external factory head. In 1893 it won the "gold medal" award at the Chicago Universal Exhibition while in 1906 and 1909 it received the same award in Milan and Buenos Aires respectively. Presently, it has a total of 18 gold medals and more than 4000 awards for its chronometers.

In 1876 Ulysse was succeeded by his son Paul David Nardin, and in 1922 his three grandchildren, Alfred, Gaston and Ernest transformed the company into a joint stock company. The grandchildren continued on the footsteps of their famous grandfather. Already in 1923 the Ernest marine chronometer received the "first prize" award for the testing devoted to the "Century Breguet". A 22-24 calibre (chronometer with two second- hands and measurement precision of 1/10 seconds) that was developed in 1935 won the "gold medal" awards at the World Exhibition in Barcelona and New York.

Apart from the internal features of Ulysse Nardin watches, the external decoration is also attractive. Striving to become a luxury brand but also to become exclusive, in the 80s master Michel Vermo restored the cloisonné enamel technique that was used in Arab countries and in Medieval China. This technique is so complicated that it has no fakes. The main product of this technique are the Jungle watches (only 18 in number) and Erotic watches (28 watches) of the Ulysse Nardin company on which animals or erotic pictures inscribed using the cloisonné enamel technique are in motion.

Some works of Ulysse Nardin Company that are recorded in the "Guinness Book of World Records" are worth talking about. In 1983 Rolf Schnyder purchased the impoverished (thanks to the emergence of quartz watches) Ulysse Nardin company and decided to return its past glory of accurate mechanical chronometer and brought a talented watchmaker, Ludwig Oechslin. Having decided to revolutionanize the watch industry, Ludwig Oechslin developed a clock that never existed, "trilogy of time". The first was the wrist astrolabium called Astrolabium Galileo Galilei. It can be used to calculate the time of sunrise, sunset, moonrise and moonset and to calculate the length of day and night, solstice and equinox days and the position of zodiacal signs in the sky. Namely these watches made it into the "Guinness Book of World Records" in 1998. They have transparent back covers which make it possible to see the work of the entire mechanism developed by Oechslin on an ordinary calculator. Planetarium Copernicus also made it into the Records due to the solar system in them. Part of these watches was released in few series of 65 copies with the dial made of meteorite. In the other watches, "Trilogy of time" and "Tellurium Johannes Kepler", there is cloisonné enamel map of the Northern Hemisphere with the centre on the North Pole (there is also a model with that of the Southern Hemisphere).

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