The Russian market is one of the most important for Ulysse Nardin. Entrepreneur Rolf Schnyder, who revived the brand in the early 80s and restored Ulysse Nardin to its former greatness, spoke of Russia in superlatives until his death in 2011. Schnyder knew and admired Russian culture, and repeatedly visited the country, getting to know local tastes.
It is not too surprising then that Ulysse Nardin was among the first haute horlogerie brands to enter the Russian market. In the last decade, the brand even opened its own boutique in St. Petersburg – a city that was considered an embodiment of Russia as a whole by Schnyder. Moscow was next; in November 2010 Ulysse Nardin opened a flagship boutique on the Russian capital’s famed Nikolskaya street.
Haute Time Russia recently had the chance to visit the Moscow boutique, where we got an exclusive look at the flagship’s incredible treasures, which could practically rival those of the Russian tsars housed in the Kremlin’s treasury nearby!
Here is a look at what we saw:
The Imperial St. Petersburg Collection with the Frigate Shtandart Ulysse Nardin has become famous for its Russia-exclusive releases, but the masterwork we’ve captured here is undoubtedly its grandest limited edition collection. This timepiece is presented in an elaborate multi-layer white translucent enamel Egg of the Tsars decorated with 4.25 carats of diamonds. Gems around the case recreate well-known St. Petersburg landmarks, including the Admiralty Spire, the Rostral Columns, the Arch of the General Staff Building and the city’s iconic drawbridges. The egg sits on a white marble base decorated with a diamond-clad Ulysse Nardin anchor. The timepiece itself features an enamel cloisonné dial depicting the first ship of the Baltic fleet, the frigate Shtandart, which was commissioned by Peter the Great in 1703. The dial also showcases St. Isaac’s Cathedral and the Admiralty. This automatic three-handed rose gold piece features a unique 40mm jewelry case. Only 30 pieces were ever produced, and we saw No. 22 at the Moscow boutique.
Freak Diavolo “Rolf 75″ Ulysse Nardin’s popular Freak model, which features a carrousel tourbillon and a Dual Direct escapement, debuted in 2001. For many watch collectors it has become the first non-standard timepiece to set the trend of updating the classic watchmaking art in the spirit of the 21st century. In 2010 this timepiece was chosen to commemorate the 75th birthday of Ulysse Nardin owner Rolf Schnyder. A limited edition of just 75 pieces, the Freak Diavolo “Rolf 75″ features a 45mm platinum case with Schnyder’s signature on the lock-up device at 6 o’clock (as the Freak has no crown – the time is set by turning the split-level bezel, and the locking device prevents its accidental movement). We saw No. 27 of 75 at the Moscow boutique.
Hourstriker Back in the late 80s, under the direction of Rolf Schnyder, Ulysse Nardin began producing its now-famous repeaters with miniature figures. Known as jaquemarts, these automated mechanisms move in accordance with chimes. So far Ulysse Nardin remains the only manufacture still using this old technology, which evolved from clock towers. On this model, the applied gold hourstriker’s figure on the dial is a miniature reproduction of the bronze statue on the terrace of St. Mark’s Clock Tower in Venice. The movements of the automaton are synchronized with the sound of the gongs. The Hourstriker chime can be silenced using the on/off button, and a hand on the black onyx dial indicates the current status of the chime by pointing to the noiseless sand-glass when the chime is turned off. It is housed in a 42mm 18K rose gold case. A sapphire caseback reveals the finely decorated mechanism and massive golden rotor. We saw No. 144 at the Moscow boutique.
Moonstruck The wearer of this astronomical watch can cast a glance at Earth, the Sun and the Moon from a unique perspective. In addition to two rotating disks representing the Moon and the Sun, the Moonstruck also features a high-precision moon phase indicator. Travelers will also enjoy the simple and logical setup for switching time zones via two buttons on the case (patented by Ulysse Nardin). The manufacture automatic calibre boasts 50 hours of power reserve; it features an escapement and a hairspring made with the latest silicon technique, which doesn’t require lubrication. Housed in a 46mm case, the Moonstruck is available in a limited edition of 500 pieces in 18K red gold. Here we see No. 117 of 500.
Skeleton Tourbillon Manufacture Thanks to the openworked platinum dial housed in this 44mm timepiece, all the components of the Skeleton Tourbillon Manufacture’s hand-wound mechanism can be seen, including the brand’s point of pride – the silicon balance spring, wheel and anchor. The silicon’s grey-blue hue means those components are perfectly visible near the tourbillon carriage at 6 o’clock. The winding barrel dominates at the top, embellished with engravings indicating that the calibre has an impressive power reserve of 170 hours. Wheels of pink gold, ruby bearings and blued steel screws bring additional contrasting tones to the mechanism’s display. We saw No. 21 of 99 at the Moscow boutique.
Photo credit: Anna Manasaryan for Haute Time.