October 13, 2016
by Kenny Yeo
If anyone new to watches were to ask me to describe the brand Ulysse Nardin in just a few words, I would definitely say that they are forward-looking, technical, and aesthetically bold. One example of this is their iconic Freak watch. It was one of the earliest watches to use silicon in the movement, and even today it looks unlike anything else on the market. In fact, the same can be said for many of Ulysse Nardin’s other watches because of their unique design language. And the latest watch to join the stable is the Ulysse Nardin Classic Sonata.
Don’t be fooled by its diminutive-sounding name, the Ulysse Nardin Classic Sonata is no dress watch. It has a large 44mm stainless steel case with a titanium bezel and case back, thick lugs, large pushers, and two big crowns. We’ll get into the two crowns in a moment.
The dial is blue, which is a popular color these days, with mixed finishes. The center portion is striped, while the outer ring is solid and lined with polished and faceted hour markers that remind me of the tips of spears. The dial is kind of busy, so let’s begin at the top. At 1 o’clock is a large sub-dial for the alarm, which features hour and minute hands so that it can be set precisely. There’s also a power reserve gauge for the alarm complication within the subdial, and at 10 o’clock of the watch’s main dial there is the alarm’s on/off indicator. Adjustment of the alarm is done using the second crown at 9 o’clock. The first crown at 3 o’clock is used to set the time on the main dial.
Speaking of the alarm, it isn’t a simple alarm that buzzes, it’s a cathedral gong and hammer, which is similar to that of a minute repeater and also means a more complex and melodic sounding alarm. And if that’s not enough, the alarm also synchronizes with the dual-time dial, so you can just leave it as is when traveling. The dual-time display is at 6 o’clock, and it can be adjusted forward and backward using the pushers at 4 and 8 o’clock. And finally, there’s also a big-date complication, which resides at 4 o’clock. Told you it was a busy dial.
The movement within is Ulysse Nardin’s in-house manufacture automatic caliber UN-67. Since Ulysse Nardin was one of the pioneers of using silicon in watch movements, it’s no wonder that the caliber UN-67 features numerous silicon components, including the hairspring, integrated safety pin, and impulse finger. The caliber UN-67 also features a special patented inertial oscillator, which can be viewed from the dial side through a little aperture at 7:30. The caliber UN-67 provides 42 hours of power reserve.
The brand says that the new Ulysse Nardin Classic Sonata watch combines “classical beauty with stunningly functional complications.” While the second part of the statement is certainly accurate, I’m not so sure of the first. The Ulysse Nardin Classic Sonata does combine two very useful complications together – alarm and dual-time – but the design isn’t what I would call “classical beauty.” It’s definitely more sporty, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It just depends on your personal preferences. For me, the new Ulysse Nardin Classic Sonata is yet another bold, distinctive, and technically interesting watch from one of the most inventive watch brands around. The Ulysse Nardin Classic Sonata is limited to just 99 pieces and is priced at $28,000. ulysse-nardin.com