May 23, 2013
by Ariel Adams
The Ulysse Nardin Sonata is not a new watch, but these two models are the newest iteration thereof and referred to by Ulysse Nardin as the Sonata Streamline watches. Among high-end timepieces in the brand’s even most avant garde collections, the Sonata is perhaps the least understood. Probably because there really aren’t other watches on the market (that come to mind) which are like it. In short, the Sonata combines a two time zone travel watch with a gong and hammer based alarm.
Building on their best in-house movements, the Sonata’s caliber UN-67 automatic movement utilizes a silicon hairspring as well as escapement – for better timing accuracy. The two time zone system is carried over from that of the Ulysse Nardin Dual Time based movements, which offers case-mounted pushers to move the second time zone back and forth (by one hour) with ease. It also has a big date complication.
Then there is the matter of the unique alarm system. Most noteworthy is the fact that the alarm uses both a cathedral gong as the chiming mechanism to alert you, as well as a countdown timer to know when the alarm is set to go off. This latter feature is useful because the alarm can be set up to 24 hours in advance (versus 12 hours on most mechanical alarm watches).
Thus, indicators on the dial offer a range of information. There is the main time in the center, the second time zone (in 24 hour format) over 6 o’clock, the alarm time at 1 o’clock, and the countdown timer until the alarm goes off at 11 o’clock. The dial also has an “on/off” indicator for the alarm that Ulysse Nardin refers to as “Sonata.”
Most mechanical alarm watches have a buzzing style alarm system that is probably louder than the Sonata. That said, they aren’t elegant noises. While the Sonata might not be enough to wake you up, it is a gentle reminder of other things. And if you use a mechanical watch to wake you up then you are missing out on the benefit of your mobile phone’s much better alarm system. The hammer and gong system is similar to that on a minute repeater watch, only here it is used to alert you rather than for a minute repeater function.
Style-wise, the Sonata is among Ulysse Nardin’s stranger creations, up there with the El Toro. The 44mm wide case looks to be inspired by the shape of a Rolex Submariner (of all things), while the brand references inspiration from super yachts. The main case is titanium and there are 18k rose gold accents. Two dial versions of the Sonata Streamline are available – with their own individual sense of being acquired tastes. For the bezel, Ulysse Nardin uses either 18k rose gold or black ceramic.
Once you understand the principle concept behind the Sonata, the overall design and dial layout makes more sense. The watch is beautifully niche in its design offering a very distinct look that is anything but mainstream. You have to ask yourself – who wears a watch like this on a daily basis? An amalgamation of high-end watch styles borrowing from Ulysse Nardin’s toolbox of talents, the Sonata Streamline is a timepiece for the truly “initiated.” Price is $39,000 and $46,000. ulysse-nardin.ch
Tech Specs from Ulysse Nardin:
Reference 675-00: Titanium, rose gold with ceramic bezel
Reference 675 -01 Titanium, rose gold
Movement: Caliber UN-67
Front side/back side etched anchor with integrated safety pin in silicium
Front side/back side etched roller with integrated impulse finger in silicium, silicium cut hairspring
Patented inertial oscillator
Power-Reserve approx. 42 h
Functions: Alarm with cathedral gong. Countdown indicator. Dual Time system with instant timezone adjustor. Big date in a double window. Quick date correction in both directions.
Case: titanium with rose gold elements, black ceramic bezel, crown and pushers in rose gold titanium with rose gold elements, bezel, crown and pushers in rose gold
Crystal: Anti-reflective sapphire crystal
Case-back: Anti-reflective sapphire crystal fixed with screws
Band: Black leather or black rubber strap, with folding buckle