Reviewing: The Ulysse Nardin Imperial Blue Tourbillon

The Imperial Blue Tourbillon combines Ulysse Nardin’s expertise in chiming watches, a complication very few manufactures have shown they can master, with the stunning design of the Royal Blue Tourbillon. It’s a fan favorite and currently features in our Watch Madness competition, so make sure to vote for it, if you like it as much as we did. Here’s our review. 

Ulysse Nardin boasts a rich history when it comes to minute repeaters. The brand first gained a reputation for its minute repeaters in 1893, when it won a prize at the Chicago World’s Fair for the complication, and continued developing it through the Jaquemarts collection, which includes the San Marco released in 1989, followed by the Genghis Khan, in 2011.

The manufacture’s latest timepiece, the Imperial Blue Tourbillon, is the newest addition to the musical family.

P1011560

Once again, it features the Grand Sonnerie Westminster Carillon, which chimes four notes (Mi-Do-Re-Sol) on every passing hour. It also sounds the hours, quarter-hour and minutes on demand, via an on-off pusher at 11 o’clock on the back of the case.

Of course, the extra hammers used in the Carillon mean the timepiece is huge. But, even though the precious white gold case measures 46 mm in diameter, everything inside feels quite light.

P1011607

At 6’clock, the flying tourbillon seems to dance to the sonnerie on a transparent mainplate, adorned with a blue-tinged sapphire bridge.

It’s definitely a fun and lively watch, but it’s also very functional. It features a date indicator at 12 o’clock, which can be quickly adjusted using a pusher at 2 o’clock.

The delicate openwork hour and minute hands are adjusted using the crown, which also features a safety system that stops the sounding of the passing hours while the time is being corrected.

P1011607

Because the sounds of the passing hours, quarter-hours and minutes all need powering, energy management was the most difficult aspect of crafting this timepiece.

But Ulysse Nardin came up with an ingenious solution, creating two barrels, one for the sonnerie, and one for the movement.

The first barrel is wound either partially, by activating the repeater slide on the case at 9 o’clock, or fully by rotating the crown counterclockwise.

P1011577

When rotated clockwise, the crown winds a second barrel that is dedicated to beautifully finished Calibre UN-970, an 84 jewels manual winding movement that offers 50 hours of power reserve.

The Ulysse Nardin Imperial Blue Tourbillon is part of a very limited collection of only 20 pieces, priced at $850,000 and comes with a dark blue alligator strap and folding buckle. For more, please visit Ulysse Nardin.

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