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The Story of Ulysse Nardin

Born in Le Locle, Switzerland, in 1823, Ulysse Nardin followed in the watchmaking footsteps of his father, Léonard-Frédéric, apprenticing for him, and later, working with precision timepiece expert William DuBois. In 1846 in Le Locle, at the age of 23, Ulysse Nardin founded the company that still bears his name. He paved the company’s future with his pocket and marine chronometers, setting the benchmark in both civil and military realms. When he died in 1876, his son, Paul-David, took control.

Ulysse Nardin grew steadily in success and renown and was crowned by more than 4,300 watchmaking awards, including 18 gold medals. Despite its vast achievements, the firm fell victim to the quartz crisis in 1983 and was put up for sale. Yet, this setback transitioned into something remarkable: a creator of high horology that would propel its own renaissance and become revered, once again, for its revolutionary developments.

Convinced the imaginative firm could become a market leader, Rolf W. Schnyder purchased the company. It was Schnyder meeting with watchmaking genius Dr. Ludwig Oechslin that sparked the turning point for Ulysse Nardin, resulting in the development of many milestones in the watch industry. Innovation remains embedded in the Ulysse Nardin culture, often expressed through breakthrough achievements and the proactive use of new materials, like Silicium.

Its many models, including its most iconic works, are housed within a four-pillar system for simple navigation: Marine, Functional, Exceptional and Classico. The Marine pillar pays tribute to Ulysse Nardin’s rich history with the sea and includes exquisite timepieces such as the Marine Chronometer Manufacture, Marine Diver and Lady Diver. “Functional” presents the game-changing Perpetual Calendar, Dual Time and Sonata. “Exceptional” showcases the Trilogy of Time series, which catapulted the brand’s comeback, and of course, one cannot forget the Freak, which stunned the Swiss watchmaking industry for its groundbreaking use of Silicium. The category also encompasses the minute repeaters, where time is not only seen, but also heard. The Classico pillar comprises timepieces that integrate in-house dials with the rare, centuries-old art of enameling.

For nearly 170 years, Ulysse Nardin has forged ahead, anchored in seafaring roots with sights set on the horizon. Forever inventive, the manufacturer remains steadfast in its pioneering precision of fusing bold innovation with undeniable style. November 2014 heralds a new era for Ulysse Nardin who joined Kering’s “Luxury – Watches and Jewellery “ division. Through this acquisition, Kering will support the continuation of Ulysse Nardin’s path of innovation and ensure the future growth of independence in the manufacture of in-house movements.

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