Ulysse Nardin’s Imperial Blue Watch With Flying Tourbillon And 4-Gong Sonnerie In Sapphire Hands-On

Ulysse Nardin’s Imperial Blue Watch With Flying Tourbillon And 4-Gong Sonnerie In Sapphire Hands-On

Ulysse Nardins Imperial Blue Watch With Flying Tourbillon And 4 Gong Sonnerie In Sapphire Hands On   hands on

Since its establishment in 1846, and especially since its 1983 relaunch, Ulysse Nardin has taken its fair share of designing and manufacturing some of the most complicated chiming watches of modern horology. Their latest exercise in this extremely demanding field of high-end watchmaking is called the Imperial Blue, and it is yet another tangible and hugely impressive proof of that experience. Comprising a flying, or rather a seemingly levitating tourbillon, a sonnerie Westminster carillon and minute repeater, as well as a date indication, when I first saw this piece the immediate question on my mind was where Ulysse Nardin put all these complications in a movement half of which is completely transparent and contains nothing but the tourbillon, spinning in sapphire-surrounded loneliness?

The reason why such liberality in using movement space shocked me is that the sonnerie complication of the Imperial Blue represents the pinnacle of all chiming watches, meaning even greater complexity from the already mind-boggling minute repeaters. What the Sonnerie Westminster Carillon (or Westminster Chimes) does is that it rings out on four notes (Mi-Do-Re-Sol) for every passing hour, plus also sounds the hours, quarters and minutes on the wearer's demand, upon sliding the actuator at the 9 o'clock position of the case. To see (and hear) this amazing function in operation check out Ariel's hands-on video of this piece just below.

Ulysse Nardins Imperial Blue Watch With Flying Tourbillon And 4 Gong Sonnerie In Sapphire Hands On   hands on

There are numerous problems, or rather challenges, that are linked to the making of a sonnerie. First of all, there is the pressing issue of providing ample power reserve, as on pieces with a shared barrel that supplies both the timekeeping and the chiming functions simultaneously the power reserve drops to a mere 24 hours, given that the sonnerie is turned on and is chiming as an hour passes. The Imperial Blue solves this with a double barrel system, whereas the barrel to the left (around the 10 o'clock position) caters to the sonnerie and minute repeater, while the one to the right, at the 2 o'clock position is dedicated to the flying tourbillon.

Ulysse Nardins Imperial Blue Watch With Flying Tourbillon And 4 Gong Sonnerie In Sapphire Hands On   hands on

And while the way a sonnerie and/or minute repeater movement is constructed is of such incredible complexity that it will have to have an article dedicated all to itself, we do have a great opportunity to better understand how it operates thanks to the video above. As you can see in the footage, as Ariel slides the slider upon starting the minute repeater the barrel on the left rotates a couple of times. This is done to put just enough power into the barrel to sound the minute repeater and its four gongs. While the repeater operates you can see the barrel turning continuously, giving away its power to the repeater and stopping completely as the chiming function terminates.

Ulysse Nardins Imperial Blue Watch With Flying Tourbillon And 4 Gong Sonnerie In Sapphire Hands On   hands on

So how do you "energize" the barrel to power the sonnerie, if the repeater eats up all the power reserve that was generated upon its initialization? Since the Imperial Blue contains a hand-wound movement the answer is that by rotating the crown counterclockwise the secondary barrel of the sonnerie can be wound; while by rotating the crown clockwise the movement's barrel can be restored to its full 50 hours of power reserve. It is a clever system and again, something that is not generally seen with sonnerie watches.

6 comments
MarkCarson
MarkCarson

What a cute blue robot face. Not the classical look you usually get from UN in their novelty pieces, but interesting looking none the less. And sure has a lot of complications for a price that exceeds the price of my house. I wonder if they offer 30 year mortgage payments to make this within the reach of wage earners? Then after the market price goes up and you have paid your watch mortgage down, you can apply for a  WELOC (Watchowner's Equity Line Of Credit).

jesvtine
jesvtine

ONLY $857, 000...I am preordering two.  

SuperStrapper
SuperStrapper

Truly awesome. Considering the Royal Blue is a million beans, I guess this is the poor man's version at only...850,000 beans?


Anyway, you have to watch the video to truly appreciate how 'floating' that tourbillon really is - the photos are great, but they all lend a little glare and don't accurately portray what you would really see like the video does.


If I were to wear this to work, I'd be fired shortly thereafter for constantly torturing everyone with the chimes, as I would be having them going constantly. Because, it makes perfect sense that someone who buys a watch for this kind of money has a job that they would get fired from.


I can't help but get a little Harry Winston vibe from this watch.

Ulysses31
Ulysses31

But you can see the hairs on your WRIST!!!  Ahem.  With that out the way, it's a very clever piece of engineering, and quite attractive.  I say "quite" only because the creepy staring robot look is disconcerting.  The only things that strike me (buddum-tish) are how very thick the watch looks, and how wrong those hands look.  There's just something really "off" about them.

Fraser Petrick
Fraser Petrick

I have slipped the surly bonds of earth...and danced the sky in laughter silvered wings...reached out and touched the face of Ulysse Nardin - with apologies to John Gillespie Magee, American pilot in the Canadian Air Force.

BigMike213
BigMike213

I'm going to need a new pair of pants....

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