The melodious Imperial Blue

Swiss watchmaker Ulysse Nardin goes back to the origins of watchmaking history to craft a wristwatch that ‘sounds’ time.

Imperial Blue by Ulysse Nardin

Imperial Blue by Ulysse Nardin

In the beginning, before dials and hands were invented, clocks would ‘sound’ the time. Ulysse Nardin has taken inspiration from the origins of watchmaking to design the new limited edition Imperial Blue, which holds within it the Sonnerie Westminster Carillon.

The Imperial Blue is a beautiful timepiece, with its white-gold and blue-tinged sapphire colours. Every hour, a delightful sparkling melody ‘Sol’ rises from its case. If desired, the watch can be muted with an on-off pusher at 11 o’clock on the back of the case. The minute-repeater on the Imperial Blue features a charming Westminster chime played on four notes. Once activated and released, the repeater slide sets off the hammers dancing and the gongs singing. This enchanting symphony is punctuated by the flying tourbillion at 6 o’clock, as if suspended in time, levitating on its sapphire plate. The delicate openwork hour and minute hands are adjusted using the crown, which has a safety system that stops the sounding of the passing hours when the time is being corrected.

Having accomplished miniaturisation of the Sonnerie mechanism, which combines a minute-repeater with the sounding of the passing hours, the Ulysse Nardin Manufacture has now added in the Imperial Blue a date indicator at 12 o’clock, which is adjustable using a pusher at 2 o’ clock. The biggest challenge for Ulysse Nardin was undoubtedly energy management as sounding of the passing hours, as well as sounding the hours, quarter-hours and minutes on demand, is powered by the same barrel. This barrel can be wound either partially, by activating the repeater slide on the case middle at 9 o’clock, or fully by rotating the crown counter clockwise. When rotated clockwise, the crown winds a second barrel, which powers the movement, and provides a 50-hour power reserve. A clever system is in place to control the level of energy available, which guarantees a fully operational Sonnerie.

Issued in a limited edition of 20 pieces, the Imperial Blue bears testimony to the Swiss watchmaker’s artistic and technological expertise.