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History

Technology is driving the world at unfathomable speed. It has also steered the course of the Ulysse Nardin watch manufacture for close to two centuries. Innovation after innovation, the company has been taking the profession into the future as it brings a high-tech approach to the age-old art of Fine Watchmaking. Established in 1846 by a 23-year-old Ulysse Nardin, the brand carries on both the name and the enterprising spirit of its founder. Having trained as a watchmaker and specialist in complications, Ulysse Nardin had his sights set on greatness. He chose his birthplace of Le Locle, in the Swiss Jura, the home of the watch industry, to set up his business. The young Ulysse quickly spotted the rising demand for pocket and marine chronometers that could measure time with absolute precision. He made them his speciality, and was soon supplying international shipping companies with the reliable deck instruments they needed to safely ply the open seas. From the very beginning, Ulysse Nardin's timepieces were remarkable for their innovation and prize-winning precision. They contributed to greater efficiency in trade and would chart the course of the company's future. Over the decades, Ulysse Nardin was awarded over 4,300 distinctions, including 18 gold medals. In 1983, the brand reached a new point in its history when Rolf W. Schnyder took over the company and joined with Ludwig Oechslin to form a partnership that would be crowned with success. Renowned for its revolutionary concepts, such as the Freak and the Perpetual Calendar, the company also led research into new materials, in particular silicon. This position at the forefront of technology and innovation goes as far back as the company itself, and has given Ulysse Nardin its singular status in Swiss watchmaking.



Key dates

Having completed his apprenticeship with the foremost Swiss watchmakers of the day, Ulysse Nardin set up business making precision marine chronometers.

1862

At the International Exhibition in London, Ulysse Nardin was awarded the Prize Medal, Britain's highest distinction for watchmaking, in the "complicated watches and pocket chronometers" category.

Neuchâtel Observatory awarded the first in what would be a long series of official certificates to marine chronometers by Ulysse Nardin.

Presentation of the Chicago Watch, a one-of-a-kind minute-repeater split-seconds chronograph, created especially for the World's Fair in Chicago. It was bought back at auction by Ulysse Nardin in 1996 to celebrate the company's 150th anniversary.

Neuchâtel Observatory's last official report noted that Ulysse Nardin had obtained 4,324 certificates of performance for mechanical marine chronometers, including ten gold medals.

A group of investors led by Rolf W. Schnyder took over the company, ushering in a new era in the history of Ulysse Nardin.

The Astrolabium Galileo Galilei became the first chapter in the partnership between Rolf W. Schnyder and Ludwig Oechslin. This highly complex watch earned Ulysse Nardin a place in the Guinness Book of Records in February 1989. It was joined by the Planetarium Copernicus (1988) then the Tellurium Johannes Kepler (1992) to form the Trilogy of Time, a set of three completely original astronomical wristwatches.

Presentation of the San Marco, the first minute-repeater wristwatch with jaquemarts, proposed as limited editions in gold and platinum.

The company celebrated its 150th anniversary with two collector's watches: the Marine Chronometer 1846 and the Perpetual Ludwig, named after its creator, Dr Ludwig Oechslin.

After the patented GMT ± in 1994, Ulysse Nardin presented the GMT ± Perpetual with two exclusive complications. It won the following year's Innovation Prize.

Launch of the Freak with its revolutionary seven-day Carrousel-Tourbillon. With no true dial, crown or hands, the movement rotates on itself to show the time. The following year, it was named Watch of the Year in the Innovation category.

Innovation Prize for the Sonata multifunction mechanical musical timepiece, launched the previous year.

Launch of the Freak DIAMonSIL® with a new and patented Dual Ulysse escapement, made from a combination of diamond and silicon. Launch of InnoVision 1 – Ulysse Nardin's vision of the future with ten technical innovations in a single concept watch.

Death of Rolf W. Schnyder, owner and president of Ulysse Nardin, whose foresight and leadership left a lasting imprint on the company. He was succeeded by the current CEO, Patrik P. Hoffmann.

Launch of the UN-118 with DIAMonSIL® anchor escapement for the new Marine Chronometer Manufacture. Ulysse Nardin takes over Swiss enameller Donzé Cadrans SA.

Launch of five calibres featuring silicon technology: UN-690 for the Stranger musical watch; UN-310 for Jade, a hand-engraved skeleton movement and the first calibre designed for women with a new crown concept; UN-170 for the Skeleton Tourbillon; UN-150 for the Marine Chronograph; UN-205 for the Freak Cruiser with a seven-day flying carousel.

Ulysse Nardin joins Kering's Luxury Watches & Jewellery division. Launch of the UN-334 calibre for the Dual Time Manufacture, with rapid time-zone and date setting.

GPHG Tourbillon Watch Prize for the Ulysse Anchor Tourbillon whose movement incorporates the constant-force Ulysse Anchor escapement. The result of eight years' research and development, and made entirely in silicon, this escapement presents a hitherto unprecedented architecture based on the principle of flexible mechanisms that harness the elasticity of flat springs. This innovative construction is housed in a 60-second tourbillon.

170th anniversary of the founding of Ulysse Nardin; 15th anniversary of the iconic Freak watch; 20th anniversary of the Marine Chronometer watch. An annual calendar joins the Marine Chronograph collection, driven by the new UN-153 calibre with backward and forward setting. Launch of the Marine Tourbillon Grand Deck whose patented time display looks to the golden age of yachting, and comprises a boom pulled by nanowires above a majestic tourbillon.

Ulysse Nardin gives a five-year warranty on all its mechanical watches. Launch of InnoVision 2. In 2007, Ulysse Nardin was in the spotlight for the InnoVision 1 concept watch. Ten years later, InnoVision 2 continues in the same vein as a platform for ten groundbreaking innovations.

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