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"Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without." - Confucius

During the Geneva Watch Days, Ulysse Nardin showed us the new and edgy Blast collection at the Geneva flagship store. 

Last autumn Ulysse Nardin opened a flagship boutique right at the waterfront on Quai du Général-Guisan. The 2,000 sqm shop was imagined by French architect Bertrand Fairerol, the founder of BF RETAIL DESIGN & ARCHITECTURE. The space is laid out in different areas: client reception, showcases, and product discovery desks and a VIP room – all share a sea-themed visual concept. The display counters in raw grey stone, translucent light fixtures in blown Murano glass in the shape of water-drops and touches of blue colours echo the brand’s strong connection to the deep waters. 

‘It’s a perfect location, which Ulysse Nardin chose to showcase its creations,’ explains Françoise Bezzola, Chief Marketing Officer of the brand. ‘Our new retail concept is younger and more dynamic than before, and follows a brand rejuvenation strategy that started close to two years ago’.

Indeed, Patrick Pruniaux (CEO of Kering’s watch brands Girard-Perregaux and Ulysse Nardin) and his team have seemingly been working hard to conceive and deliver the seedlings of the new directions. 

At the Geneva Watch Days a few sharks welcomed us in the boutique – on the wall and also on the very cool face masks. On the first floor the colour choice is fiery, volcano inspired – check out the release videos to feel the mood! 

Ulysse Nardin Blast

The ‘X’ is a recurrent motif of Ulysse Nardin and also kind of a guideline throughout many of their watches. The SIHH 2019 appearance of the brand was dedicated to the X and it is reflected on the novelties and in the brand communication as well. 

There is X on the Freak X, Skeleton X, Diver X, with some design details on the Dual Time watches and now on the Blast. Its design is a ‘shape-within-shape-within-shape’ geometry: an ‘X’, framed in a rectangle, both inside a circle. 

The inspiration behind the new models were the very intense phenomena in the nature – ‘… from imposing blue glaciers at the ends of the planet to the volcanic islands of the Pacific, the daunting and dangerous nature of these ultimate hot and cold zones have fascinated explorers for centuries.’

Ulysse Nardin Blast
Ulysse Nardin Blast

A very distinctive, immediately recognisable element on the case is the lugs. They are strong and geometric, like the sharp wings of a stealth aircraft, reminiscent of how aeronautical and military engineers have created furtive planes. 

The new watch is available in four 45mm-case models – each in the same spirit but still different. Several strap options are offered: structured rubber, leather or even velvet, all equipped with the new self-deploying buckle. The fierce case and lug design is supported by the strong colour choices; two versions are inspired by the ice  (the white ceramic with metallic grey bezel and details and the blue titanium bezel model) and two by the fire (the full black with red details and the black/rose gold version). 

Ulysse Nardin Blast
Ulysse Nardin Blast

The daring watch requires a proper movement – the automatic calibre UN-172 has hours and minutes functions and an silicium tourbillon at six o’clock. The balance beats at a frequency of 2.5 Hz. The escapement wheel, anchor, and balance spring are in silicium – making the watch anti-magnetic. Ulysse Nardin is a pioneer of working with these types of components – the company and Mimotec (a leader in the fields of microtechnology and micromechanics, specializing in the manufacture of micro-components using the ‘LIGA’ process) together founded Sigatec, a manufacture of silicon micro-parts. The outcome of eight years’ of collaborative research and development was the constant Ulysse Anchor escapement, made entirely of silicium in 2014 (they presented a prototype in 2000 for the Dual Direct Escapement). 

Ulysse Nardin Blast
Ulysse Nardin Blast, backside

Team of Ulysses 

The explorers, athletes and artists associated with Ulysse Nardin are adventure-seeking women and men. To underline the extreme properties of the watch, Ulysse Nardin is partnering on the visuals with Carsten Peter, photographer, filmmaker, biologist and adventurer. Carsten is an award-winner and regular contributor to the National Geographic Magazine specialised in capturing never-before-seen images of some of the most remote and dangerous places on the planet. 

Carsten embodies the Ulysse Nardin spirit and pictures perfectly the extreme places which most of us would never dare to discover. 

Sparkling Blast 

Ulysse Nardin had something in store for the bling-lovers too – we had the chance to see the limited edition Sparkling Blast, composed of a stunning 211 diamonds for a total weight of 13 carats. The diamonds are applied on the case with an invisible setting – a master technique used mostly on high jewellery pieces. The diamond setter would not use any prongs or bezels but the stones are held in place from below by a hidden structure, hence they appear to be floating. In order to fit in a perfectly smooth ‘mosaic’ the artisans had to cut 85 difference shapes. The crown, bezel and index hands are also set with hand-faceted diamonds and you will find 1.22 ct of diamonds on the self-deploying buckle. 

When using diamonds on the watches, the brand applies and respects the controls implanted by the Kimberley Process, a system used to ensure that no ‘conflict diamonds’ enter the supply chain. All diamonds acquired by Ulysse Nardin comply with the World Diamond Council System of Warranties, which is bound by the rules instated by the Kimberley Process. 

The exclusive limited series will contain three watches in white gold with a white rubber strap and three in white gold with a deep blue alligator strap. 

Ulysse Nardin Sparkling Blast
Ulysse Nardin Sparkling Blast

Photo credits: IWC Schaffhausen. Loupiosity.com.
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