In 1846, in Le Locle, Switzerland, young watchmaker Ulysse Nardin had a vision of the future. Despite living miles from the sea, he was convinced of two things: a rising demand for marine and pocket chronometers, and his ability to meet that demand.
He was right on both counts, and Ulysse Nardin navigational timepieces would come to set the standard for precision in both civil and military realms, and establish his company for generations to come.By the 1870s, over 50 navies and international shipping companies were equipped with Ulysse Nardin marine deck chronometers, providing sailors instruments for accuracy and efficiency across trades and continents.
When he died in 1876, his son, Paul-David Nardin, took control, ensuring Ulysse Nardin’s continued quest for technical innovation. By 1975, the company had 4,300 watchmaking awards to its illustrious name, including 18 international gold medals, as well as a great number of technological patents.
Despite these impressive achievements, in the 1980s, the fortunes of Ulysse Nardin were threatened by the unexpectedly swift rise of quartz watches, known in Swiss watchmaking as the Quartz Crisis. But when Rolf W. Schnyder purchased the company in 1983, this setback transformed into a remarkable success: Ulysse Nardin would come to engineer its own renaissance, becoming revered once again for its revolutionary developments in Haute Horlogerie.
Schnyder was convinced the imaginative firm could become a market leader. But it was Schnyder’s fortuitous encounter with watchmaking genius Dr. Ludwig Oechslin that sparked the turning point for Ulysse Nardin, setting in motion a fresh wave of watchmaking innovation, which combined creative inspiration with the proactive use of new materials, like silicium.
Spirit of independence
Since then, Ulysse Nardin has continued to introduce iconic timepieces full of wonderful ingenuity and extraordinary technical achievement. Part of this achievement comes from the company’s determination to master every aspect of the craft in-house. This spirit of independence is behind the acquisition of master enamellers Donzé Cadrans, and control over production of high-tech materials like DIAMonSIL,as well as the many movements fully created and produced in-house. In 2014, Ulysse Nardin found a new ally when it joined Kering’s Luxury Watches and Jewellery division. Kering wholly supports Ulysse Nardin’s course of bold innovation and independence.
For more than 170 years, Ulysse Nardin has forged ahead, anchored in seafaring history with sights set firmly on the horizon. For the next 170, the company aims to continue its course of independence and innovation, remaining steadfast in the pioneering precision that combines daring ingenuity with undeniable style.