The element of surprise is inherent in a Ulysse Nardin initiative. Expect the unexpected.
Patrik Hoffmann, CEO of Ulysse Nardin, introduced one of its most surprising novelties for this year. "The Stranger is really a music box and a watch. It plays the melody Strangers in the Night - the legendary 1966 song - on the hour or on demand. Time is set by pushing the crown instead of pulling it, which makes setting time convenient."
Developed completely in-house, the musical mechanical watch, powered by the UN-690 calibre using silicium technology, is envisaged as the first in a limited edition series.
In appearance, The Stranger is pure 1950s, with the engraving on the caseback which certifies it is an authentic Ulysse Nardin musical watch, one of only 99.
The company wants to maintain its position as a watchmaker of distinction . "Our focus has always been on innovation and independence," Hoffmann says. "We want to remain a niche brand. We don't want to conquer the market. Our goal is to continue to break new ground, to innovate."
Ulysse Nardin has also launched its first watch with a skeleton calibre developed solely by the brand. As Hoffmann says: "The Skeleton Manufacture features an exclusive skeleton tourbillon calibre. Skeletonising allows us to reveal the inner workings of the movement by reducing the structure of components to a bare minimum. Ulysse Nardin's model is a brilliant example of this endeavour."
The flying tourbillon comprises a balance spring, anchor and escapement wheel made from silicon. The power reserve is 170 hours.
A delicate touch is the skeletonising of the tips of the hands which are a leaf shape. The Skeleton Manufacture watch is available in two limited editions of 99 pieces each, in red gold and in platinum.
"The women's market is growing - and women are wearing bigger watches," Hoffman says. "We have designed and produced a self-winding calibre for ladies. It does not call for pushing or pulling of the crown to set the date and time, meaning there will be no more damage to the lady's manicure."
It is said that Chai Schnyder, chairwoman of Ulysse Nardin, requested such a movement from her late husband Rolf Schnyder (then president and CEO of Ulysse Nardin) 11 years ago. The jade watch has a
pusher at four o'clock to change the function of the crown, for winding, setting the date, and the time. Then the crown can be turned without pulling it out.
Jade's calibre is UN-310 with GMT Dual Time, one of Ulysse Nardin's most well-received features, allowing time zones to be adjusted while the watch is on the wrist.
Aesthetically it uses jade, emeralds and diamonds to enhance a mother-of-pearl dial.