Haute Complication: Ulysse Nardin Blast Hourstriker

Haute Complication: Ulysse Nardin Blast Hourstriker

Adrienne Faurote
By Adrienne Faurote August 17, 2021

Ulysse Nardin is a brand with many traditions, and among them is the creation of watches that produce sound. One of the first complications that come to mind with this is the classic minute repeater. Ulysse Nardin incorporated them in legendary watches like the “Genghis Khan” and “Safari.” But, another tradition with the Ulysse Nardin, even more paramount than all the others, is to innovate. In 2019 they teamed up with the high-end French audio brand Devialet, best known for their beautiful and outstanding speakers, to create a minute repeater with a unique sound experience. The sound of most minute repeaters is actually rather faint, but with the help of Devialet, Ulysse Nardin pumped up the jam of the Hourstriker Phantom to a very impressive 85dB. This collaboration was continued this year with the Blast Hourstriker.

UN Blast Hourstriker front

Where the Hourstriker Phantom was more classically inclined in terms of design, its successor seems to come straight from the future. Not only does it feature the angular shapes that made the Blast collection a great success in such a short period of time, but it also shows what it is all about right on the front of the watch. The dial is reduced to nothing more than a chapter ring, marking the hours and minutes. This leaves plenty of room to showcase the mechanical ballet that supports the chiming of the hours and half hours when passing or on-demand when preferred.

UN Blast Hourstriker Gear Train

This watch comes with considerable challenges, not only to create it but also to have it produce a decent sound. The case is made of pink gold, which is stunning but also known to dull the vibrations of a minute repeater, lowering its volume. Together with Devialet, Ulysse Nardin overcame this in the most ingenious way. The traditional steel gong, curved cleverly around the movement and flying tourbillon, is connected to a support and transmission arm made from brass leading to the back of the watch. The open-worked caseback is fitted with a 3/10th of a millimeter thick titanium membrane which acts pretty much the same as in a high-end speaker. This allows the sound to be much louder and vibrant than it would have been otherwise, adding another impressive chapter to Ulysse Nardin’s legacy in sound.