Every year, at least one manufacturer releases a unique timepiece that makes you stop and think about all the possible ways to display time. This year, that manufacturer is Ulysse Nardin. The brand has released two timepieces that are completely different from one another and both truly unique.
The Ulysse Nardin Blast Hourstriker
The Ulysse Nardin Blast Hourstriker is the latest addition to the Blast collection. This watch takes the wearer on an auditory journey. Telling the time has been linked to sound for ages; think of church bells striking the hours in cities and villages worldwide. Ulysse Nardin set out to reinvent this phenomenon for the Blast Hourstriker with two goals in mind: to make the chiming mechanism visible on the dial side and to further improve upon the chime’s sound quality.
To meet these lofty goals, Ulysse Nardin created the all-new UN-621, an in-house automatic striking movement with 330 individual components. It is powered by a flying tourbillon to ensure the highest level of precision. The biggest challenge, however, was to make the chiming mechanism visible on the dial side. When the striker is on, you can see the chiming mechanism in action as it strikes the time on the hour and half hour.
To optimize the chiming mechanism’s sound, Ulysse Nardin paired up with Devialet, a French audio technology company, to create a special titanium membrane. It is an ingenious design: The gong contacts the membrane, which moves a large volume of air, thus improving the audibility of the chime. To further enhance the sound quality and volume, the rose gold case back features the Blast line’s signature double “X.” This protects the membrane and serves as a hi-fi speaker, both releasing and amplifying the sound.
The movement is housed in a 45-mm Blast case that combines black DLC titanium and 18-karat rose gold for improved acoustics. The watch comes with three different straps: The first is a high-tech, aerodynamic waterproof black velvet option. The second is an alligator leather strap for a more classic look, and the third is a stealthy rubber strap. The new Ulysse Nardin Blast Hourstriker has a list price of $104,400.
Editor’s rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Alternatives: Hublot Big Bang King Power Minute Repeater, Panerai Radiomir 1940 Minute Repeater Carillon Tourbillon GMT, Ulysse Nardin Imperial Blue 9700-125
Ulysse Nardin Diver X Skeleton 44mm
The second release is a new version of the brand’s Diver X. The Diver X Skeleton 44mm combines the sporty design of a diver with the technical prowess of a skeletonized watch. This is a unique combination that you don’t see very often.
The Diver X Skeleton features a 44-mm blue titanium case with orange accents. Beneath the sapphire crystal, you see the skeletonized construction, revealing the automatic in-house caliber UN-372 movement below. The design is centered around the big “X” – hence the collection’s name. The watch is water-resistant to 200 m (656 ft), comes with a blue or orange rubber strap, and is limited to a run of 175 pieces. All of this is available for a price of $22,200.
Editor’s rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Alternatives: Hublot Big Bang Meca-10 Titanium, Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Skeleton
The Richemont powerhouse Vacheron Constantin offers terrific haute horlogerie timepieces for its clientele, and every year during Watches and Wonders (formerly SIHH), we are the first to get a glimpse of these marvels. The brand did not cease to amaze us this year with their new Overseas Perpetual Calendar, Traditionnelle Split-Seconds Chronograph, and Historiques American 1921 models.
One of the most amazing models from Vacheron Constantin is now available in a white gold case with a blue or skeletonized dial. The brand houses these two new versions in a 41.5-mm case which stands just 4.05 mm tall. Wearers can admire the 1120 QPSQ/1 movement from the dial side on the skeletonized version. On the blue version, you can see this exquisite caliber from the back. To conform to modern standards, the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin comes with an interchangeable bracelet and strap.
Editor’s rating: 5 out of 5
Traditionnelle Split-Seconds Chronograph Ultra-Thin
Another mind-blowing new addition to Vacheron Constantin’s line-up is their Traditionnelle Split-Seconds Chronograph Ultra-Thin timepiece in platinum. This limited-edition series contains 15 watches exclusively housed in 42.5-mm 950 platinum cases. The case is 10.72 mm thick and comes with a transparent sapphire crystal case back, which provides a view of the in-house caliber 3500 at work. The dial is also made of platinum and features a sand-blasted finish and 18-karat white gold applied indices. The watch comes on a dark blue alligator leather strap with a platinum folding clasp.
Editor’s rating: 5 out of 5
Historiques American 1921
This year marks the 100th anniversary of Vacheron Constantin’s iconic Historiques American model. As its name suggests, the original watch, which had a very limited run, was primarily designed and produced for the US market. The model’s most recognizable features are its typical 1920s cushion-shaped case, diagonal dial, and off-center crown at the corner of the case. Just like the vintage model, the new Historiques American 1921 boasts Breguet-style hands and numerals. VC is releasing three versions of this watch: two in white gold (36.5-mm or 40-mm cases) and the platinum Collection Excellence Platine, limited to a run of 100 pieces. Every watch features Vacheron Constantin’s hand-wound caliber 4400 AS, which has a 65-hour power reserve.
Editor’s rating: 4.5 out of 5
Alternatives: Cartier Tank Basculante, Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso 1931, Breguet 5157