Founded in 1846 in Switzerland, Ulysse Nardin became world-renowned for manufacturing some of the most superb marine chronometers in the industry. This spirit of invention translated into all of their models, and by 1975, the brand had notched over 4000 watchmaking awards, including over a dozen international gold medals and countless patents. Through inevitable changes in leadership and fluctuations in the industry, Ulysse Nardin's approach to watchmaking has remained steadfast. That’s why buying a Ulysse Nardin watch is an excellent choice for anyone who values cutting-edge innovation. Discover our collection of exceptional used Ulysse Nardin watches for sale.
Before establishing his namesake brand in 1846, Ulysse Nardin studied to be a watchmaker specializing in complications. In addition, Nardin noted the rise in sea and intercontinental exploration, which demanded precise marine and pocket chronometers. Thus, he set a vision for his company, one that he would bring to fruition. To this day, the Ulysse Nardin brand has built a reputation for its longstanding history in the production of navigational timepieces for both civilian and military use.
It took about fifteen years for Nardin to build up his business and clientele. However, by 1860, the brand had outgrown its modest beginnings and relocated to a larger factory. Here, Nardin acquired a high-precision astronomical regulator to rate his pocket chronometers, giving them a competitive edge. Soon, Ulysse Nardin was able to expand beyond the Swiss market. He quickly caught the attention of other countries throughout Europe and America. Nardin gained official recognition for his efforts in 1962. That year, he received the highest possible honor at the International Exhibition in London. This time, they got an award in the category of complicated watches and pocket chronometers. In three short years, Ulysse Nardin had outgrown their facilities once again. So, they relocated to what continues to be their headquarters today.
The next decade brought about change for the brand when the founder passed away suddenly from a heart attack. His son, Paul David, immediately stepped in to carry on his father’s legacy, and he did just that. Two years later in 1878, the brand won another Gold Medal at the Universal Exhibition in Paris. By the end of the 1870s, over 50 navies and international shipping companies proudly used Ulysse Nardin marine chronometers as their navigation instruments. Then, in 1893, they notched another first prize at the Universal Exhibition in Chicago for the Chicago Watch. This one-of-a-kind model showcased a minute repeater and split-seconds chronograph. Years later in 1996, it would go up at auction in celebration of Ulysse Nardin’s 150th anniversary.
Ulysse Nardin’s success continued into the next century. By 1900, the brand had started fitting their chronometers with tourbillon escapements. Then, in 1903, Paul-David unveiled the first Swiss lever escapement. Never wavering from his father’s visions, Paul-David remained focused on the miniaturization of watch components. These would allow him to create chronometers that could be highly mobile on ships. In addition, he continued to hone in on the American market with a goal of becoming the official supplier of the U.S. Navy. In 1905, President Roosevelt held a competition for torpedo boat watches. Unsurprisingly, Ulysse Nardin’s chronometers performed admirably. Just like his father, Paul-David had realized his goal in just a few short years. Ulysse Nardin began supplying the U.S. Navy for the next several decades.
By 1975, the Neuchâtel Observatory estimated that Ulysse Nardin had over 4000 watchmaking awards to its name. This included over a dozen international gold medals and countless patents. However, in the 1970s and 80s, Ulysse Nardin faced the challenges of the Quartz Crisis. By 1983, an investment group headed by Rolf Schnyder had acquired the brand. Fortunately for Ulysse Nardin, Schnyder shared in the vision of the Nardin family. Under his leadership, Schnyder partnered with the watchmaking genius Dr. Ludwig Oechslin. Together, they developed the Astrolabium Galileo Galilei. This complex astronomical watch secured Ulysse Nardin a place in the Guinness Book of World Records in 1989. In 1996, the brand celebrated its monumental 150th anniversary with two collector’s timepieces: the Marine Chronometer 1846 and Perpetual Ludwig. Just before the turn of the century, Ulysse Nardin notched yet another award. This time, they received the Innovation Prize for the GMT Perpetual.
Ulysse Nardin has not lost momentum or its pioneering spirit in the new millennium. In 2001, they debuted their iconic Freak. This revolutionary model showcases a 7-day tourbillon along with several patents. A year later, the Freak received the Watch of the Year award in the Innovation category. In 2003, Ulysse Nardin did it again with the Sonata, a multifunction, mechanical, and musical timepiece. Once more, it received the Innovation Prize in 2004. By 2006, the brand had debuted their first in-house caliber: the UN160. A year later, they unveiled the Freak DIAMonSIL, which featured a patented Dual Ulysse escapement made from diamond and silicon.
The next decade brought about change for Ulysse Nardin once more. In 2011, Rolf Schnyder passed away. For a short period, the brand’s longtime CEO Patrik Hoffmann and Schnyder’s wife continued to run the business. However, in 2014, Ulysse Nardin was acquired once again, this time by the Kering Luxury Watches and Jewelry Group. Thankfully, the new leadership’s philosophy remained in line with all those who preceded them. A year later in 2015, the Ulysse Anchor Tourbillon took home the Tourbillon Watch Prize at the illustrious GPHG. The model is most notable for its silicon escapement, which took eight years of research and development to create.
2016 was a significant year for Ulysse Nardin. It marked the 170th anniversary of the brand, 20th anniversary of the Marine Chronometer, and 15th anniversary of the Freak. To this day, the brand remains true to its maritime roots and its steadfast commitment to cutting-edge innovations. In 2019, Ulysse Nardin built upon the technology of the Freak. They added a “flying regulator,” giving the model a frequency of 12Hz. This made it one of the most animated Freak models since the original. Later that year, they partnered with a former Navy SEAL to design one of their latest models: the Diver Deep Dive “One More Wave” Limited Edition.
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