The year 2014 which is nearing the end was yet another year of creative new pieces and contemporary updates to Ulysse Nardin’s classic concepts. One of the new timepieces from the Swiss watchmaking brand that was launched this year is an amazing Imperial Blue model. This newcomer boasts not only a Grand Sonnerie Westminster Carillon, but also a flying tourbillon with a striking, blue sapphire bridge.
The Grande Sonnerie function combines a repeater with a quarter sticking function to tell the time audibly, by ringing out four notes (“Mi-Do-Re-Sol” which are also engraved on the hammers) for each passing hour and sounds the hours, quarter hours and minutes on demand. It can also ring the hours on demand with a button.
The Swiss manufacturer has continued this impressive tradition of sonnerie wristwatches for over 100 years. This complication dates back to around 1300 and it is a rarity in a modern wristwatch, with only about a half-dozen watchmakers producing them.
A difference between the Grande Sonnerie function and a minute repeater is that the latter only chimes the time when it is activated by the wearer, whilst the first one will also sound the time each quarter hour on its own.
Ulysse Nardin also have had a challenge to develop a movement that could manage the energy which is needed to power the Sonnerie complication and the repeater functions, by means of a single mainspring barrel.
This barrel’s spring can be wound either partially, by activating the repeater slide on the case middle at the 9 o’clock position, or more fully, by rotating the crown counter-clockwise. A second barrel, which powers the timekeeping functions is capable to hold at least 50 hours of power reserve when fully charged and is wound by a traditional clockwise turn of the crown.
The dial of the new Imperial Blue shows a transparent mainplate on which floats a flying tourbillon which is located at the 6 o’clock position. The top half of the dial is reserved for a blue sapphire bridge and for the big date window which is situated at the 12 o’clock position. The date can be quickly set via the pusher at the 2 o’clock position.
Ulysse Nardin Imperial Blue Watch (ref. 9700-125) is housed in a round 18-karat white gold case which measures 46mm in diameter. The case is shielded with anti-reflective sapphire crystals and provides water resistance of up to 30 meters (about 100 feet). The watch comes with a dark blue leather strap, fitted with a folding buckle. It is issued in just 20 numbered exemplars.