This year was a year of consolidation for Ulysse Nardin. After three major strikes in the last years (Freak, Ghenghis Khan, Sonata), it was time to give the development department time to work on the next projects (keep in mind that the Sonata needed seven years until it reached production stage!). Additionally, the order books are full, and the production facilities are hard working just to fulfil the Freak and Sonata orders.
Consequently, it was not astonishing that Ulysse Nardin did not present an astounding marvel of innovation this year, but decided to improve the wonderful timepieces already in the line, both, in technical and aesthetic regards.
The most stunning - and most exclusive - novelty shown by UN was the magnificent "Circus", a minute repeater featuring four automatons on the dial. Following the path taken with the mighty "Ghenghis Khan" two years ago, the new "Circus" also has a dial made of deep black onyx. Wonderfully chased figures made of pink gold depict a circus scene. While several rows of spectators seem to watch, the figues in the front move, whenever the slider of the minute repeater mechanism is engaged: An ape on the left side tries to catch one of the balls a clown is juggling with, corresponding the hour chime. The balls are the small second and are moving permanently. The quarter hours are shown by the movement of the tamer's whip and the tiger's paw together, while afterwards, the paw moves alone, depicting the minutes. During the whole chiming, the bear is rising in front of the dancing figure.
The "Circus" is available in both, pink gold and platinum, in a limited edition of 30 pieces each.
The display back shows the beautifully finished hand-wound movement.
The "Circus" is really a worthy successor to the famous Jungel Repeater, which seems to be discontinued now.
Since the combination of black onyx and pinkg gold or platinum cases proved so attractive on the "Khan" and now the "Circus", the complete repeater/jacquemart series is now offered in that striking combination. Thus, UN also showed the "Triple Jack" with onyx dial:
And of course the popular Hourstriker, which also got an entirely new case; somewhat larger, with more massive pushers, this case looks more substantial.
The new case also includes a display back, reveiling the finely finished 2892A2 base of the complex sonnerie and jacquemart mechanisms:
Another version of the Hourstriker was shown with a bright blue lapis lazuli dial. With its brightly glimmering inclusions, this dial is fascinating, but maybe a bit too bright for some tastes:
As usually with these materials, the picture cannot reproduce the dial's real appearance.
The new design of the repeater/jacquemart line apparently was very successful, since the production of 2004 is already sold out. Maybe, the inflation of tourbillons at this year's Basel show, made the automatons on the dials even more attractive in the eyes of many collectors.
Aside from these wonderful pieces, UN also presented a more earthly collection: The "Michelangelo Gigante Chronometer" combines the large case of Ludovico perpetual calendar, that was introduced last year, with the movement of the "Ulysse 1", immediately recognizeable by its unique power reserve display, consisting of two movement elements: the hand and the disk. A very attractive addition to the current Ulysse 1 line, especially for those who prefer a tonneau case and luminous hands.
This is the pink gold version, with a beautiful silver/grey dial.
The white gold version with a blue galvanized dial is limited to 100 pieces:
The stainless steel version sports three different shades of grey on its dial - very attractive!
Aside from this entirely new series, UN freshened up the appearance of some classical models: the Michelangelo UTC got the stylish Roman numerals, already known from the Ludovico.
The round-cased GMT Big Date received an attractive grey dial with waffle-iron structure and oversized numerals at 6 and 12:
And the GMT Perpetual also is now dressed in light grey:
Finally, two new cloisonné enamel San Marco from the sailship series were shown, this time in the larger San Marco Gigante cases, also with display backs:
Tea clipper "Lightning", in platinum case
Even more famous, the "Flying Cloud", in pink gold case
Even if the spectacular innovation was not present this year, I think we fans of Ulysse Nardin can be fully satisfied with what Rolf Schnyder and his "dream team" presented us.
With best regards,