At a certain point wealth becomes a mere number. Is there a huge different between a person worth 5 billion or 10 billion dollars? To them yes, but in the scheme of things perhaps not. Once you exceed a certain numerical limit, the figures all blend together like impressionist art — you know what you are looking at but the fine details are less important.
Wearing the Ulysse Nardin Royal Blue Tourbillon, I forget the numbers behind the name. It is a wildly expensive timepiece that is so far out of most people’s reach — the price no longer matters. Diamonds and sapphires cover the 950 platinum watch case that comes with a manually wound movement made mostly from sapphire crystal, and carries a price tag of $1,000,000. “Pretty nice” I remark as I model it on my wrist. See the video below as taken by John Biggs, with whom I do the HourTime Show podcast. You can hear me at the ending asking for the price.
I previously wrote about the Royal Blue Tourbillon here (where you can get more technical details). The timepieces is a statement-making watch for both the wearer and Ulysse Nardin as a brand. Without trying to piss off Ulysse Nardin, I am going to go out on a limb and suggest that this watch doesn’t need to cost a million dollars for Ulysse Nardin to make a profit. Instead, it is a sign that they can charge it. Popular among demographic groups with lots of money, the limited edition watch will enjoy sales — I know it.
Aside from being able to admire the large baguette cut diamonds and sapphires, I am impressed by the complex beauty of the flying tourbillion movement. Synthetic sapphire crystal cut in such shapes is prone to breaking during the manufacturing process. After the pieces are cut and remain in intact, they are less brittle. Ulysse Nardin mixes clear and blue sapphire crystals for the bridges of the movement, while creating a sort of “trick” winding system that has a ring around the movement that turns on several gears while winding the watch via the crown. The flying tourbillion looks just great. It is almost suspended in appearance and has a large sapphire in the middle of it. The bubbly hands aren’t super easy to see, buy they are there. This is a watch after all, but not one meant to have visibility necessary for tactical night missions.
The use of baguette cut blue sapphire crystals on the side of the bracelet and case is neat. It adds shape and depth to the design. One thing I really admire about the piece is that it isn’t designed as a crude showpiece for precious stones. Instead, the Royal Blue Tourbillon is designed to look like a relatively ordinary watch, but precious gems are used where metal might otherwise be — and then of course there is the less-than-ordinary movement. Overall the presentation of the watch is clever, and a hard trick to pull off. This watch doesn’t reek of bad taste as you might except a watch utterly covered with diamonds to possibly exhibit. Aside from giving my insurance agent a potential heart attack, I would gladly tote this watch around on my wrist proudly.
Quality is nice, and the exclusive, in-house movement impresses me. Ulysse Nardin might not have the finishing you’d find on a Patek Philippe, but it does have a heaps more character. For a showy watch that is tastefully glitzy, this Royal Blue Tourbillon is a member of a very small club. ulysse-nardin.com
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