After the markets closed on July 30, 2014, luxury group Kering (previously known as PPR and the Gucci Group) sent out the announcement that it had acquired 100 percent of Ulysse Nardin as part of its quarterly report.
This past weekend I had the very good fortune to share an exceptional experience with good friends, a personal one, but it involved people I know through my work with watches. Over dinner we reminisced about a memorable trip back in 2009 to the Nice observatory for the introduction of the Ulysse Nardin Moonstruck wristwatch. Let me take you on a trip down memory lane with it.
It is just possible that the modern era of watchmaking truly began in 2001 when Ulysse Nardin introduced its Dual Direct Escapement in the first version of the Freak. Not only was this particular timepiece groundbreaking in its avant-garde design, but more importantly in its fundamental escapement technology invented by Dr. Ludwig Oechslin.
Ulysse Nardin’s main introduction for Baselworld was not a watch. It was a component. This is probably one reason why the introduction of the new Ulysse Anchor Escapement was so surprising; I would have expected it to come together with the haptic treat of a full horological experience, i.e. a timepiece to touch, feel and enjoy.
“This is, of course, the most important watch museum in the world,” Ludwig Oechslin says unapologetically as I sit across from him with my steaming cup of espresso during a jovial chat in the museum’s conference room. If there is one thing Oechslin does, he tells it like he sees it.
Not everyone has had the extremely good fortune to be able to attend the Olympic Games in Sochi, which are due to close this weekend. Luckily for the watch world, however, a fortunate few from the industry were able to go, allowing the rest of us to get a more personal view of the Games from their social media accounts.
It seemed like one of the best-kept secrets of Baselworld 2013. Perhaps the newness of the refurbished fair itself overshadowed the news of Ulysse Nardin’s five new in-house calibers; perhaps it was simply the overwhelming novelty of the Stranger timepiece that stole the show. Either way, this brand continued its quiet climb into the circle of major players with a whopping 11 new watches at the world’s largest watch fair, about half of which boast in-house movements outfitted with the brand’s pioneering silicon escapement technology.