Ulysse Nardin’s symmetry at Only Watch 2019

The 42mm Exo-Skeleton X by Ulysse Nardin for the Only Watch auction 2019

The 42mm Exo-Skeleton X by Ulysse Nardin for the Only Watch auction 2019  


Ulysse Nardin CEO Patrick Pruniaux on the brand’s approach to design, their contribution to the Only Watch auction, and what works for them in India

Every two years, some of the most well-respected names in watch-making donate a single, unique piece to the Only Watch auction. For collectors, the draw is exclusivity, and knowing that the money raised will fund research on Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (a genetic disorder characterised by progressive muscle degeneration). This year, at the event held on November 9, the total amount raised was over $38 million — of which $31 million was realised by a Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime, the first and only version of this timepiece ever produced in stainless steel.

Also among the 50 lots was the 42mm Exo-Skeleton X by Ulysse Nardin. “We are not a huge company, we cannot afford to donate huge amounts to charity groups. But if we can, at our level, help researchers make one step forward to help find cures, or give them a little more visibility to help them achieve their goals, then we will go for it,” begins Patrick Pruniaux, CEO of the brand. This year, the Swiss manufacturer took design cues from geometry, featuring an X within a rectangle for a pleasing visual symmetry. The movement is impressive too, with its calibre UN-371 that features a three-day power reserve and a super-light balance wheel. That the watch also happens to take its inspiration from Autonomyo — an orthotic, motorised, intelligent mobility device that has been developed by EPFL research group, REHAssist — is an added bonus. The watch had a hammer price of $35,000.

India connect
  • In India, Pruniaux has noticed that bi-colour products are extremely sought after. “We cater to this by changing our gold or silver bestsellers into pieces that incorporate both. For example, we are currently working on a limited, bi-colour edition of the Marine Torpilleur.” Unsurprisingly, New Delhi and Mumbai are the two cities where sales are best, though he sees, “potential in other main cities that we still aim at developing”.

Keeping it classic

The manufacturer, well-known for their avant-garde Freak collection, launched their last concept watch in March. Unlike other Swiss watchmakers, like Tag Heuer, Montblanc and Frederique Constant, Ulysse Nardin is yet to make a smartwatch move. “The value we bring to our timepieces are technical savoir-faire (manufacture of movements) and artisanal know-how (micro-painted dials, enamel dials); these would be difficult to bring to a smartwatch,” says Pruniaux.

However, he doesn’t close the door on the subject. “If it is only an empty marketing story, without any value for the end-consumer, then we will not do it.” About the future, Pruniaux is cagey, hinting only that they are “still very much up for Xploration [from the Freak collection], in uncharted, hostile territories…and underwater”. Perhaps he is referring to the Diver X Antarctica? The new Divers watch, inspired by Antarctica and explorer Sebastian Copeland, has a sandblasted dial, the UN-118 movement for accuracy in the severe cold and the ‘X’ we are beginning to associate with their design philosophy.

At approximately ₹6.45 lakh; to be released in 2020.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2020 7:53:27 AM |

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