Off To Space With The New Ulysse Nardin Blast Moonstruck
Ulysse Nardin has developed a charmingly lateral position with the top-tier Swiss manufacturers. This is, without a doubt, a brand with a strong history, but it’s one that’s certainly not stuck in the past. With a strong focus on outré designs and high-tech horology, Ulysse Nardin watches are not for everyone. And in my opinion, this is all for the best.
The world would be a dull place if every brand riffed on its past glories, and Ulysse Nardin is a forward-thinking brand with a vision. This past month, this became even more exciting, as Kering let go of its two watch brands. Both Girard-Perregaux and Ulysse Nardin were bought out by management, with Patrick Pruniaux of GP leading both down an exciting new path.
The Blast Moonstruck
Just like each new version of the Ulysse Nardin Freak, the Blast Moonstruck is pure future tech for the wrist. Together with designer Ludwig Oechslin, Ulysse Nardin has created a dark, gold-tinged vision of world travel for the wrist. In itself, the Blast series is an intriguing sub-genre within the slightly schizophrenic world of Ulysse Nardin. But this is meant as a compliment. From the enamel-dialed Classico pieces to the technical tour de force of the Freak and the Blast, it’s all good. Far too many brands survive off of regurgitating past glories, but this is not the way forward for UN.
Even describing the Blast case itself is a challenge. It has a kind of semi-tonneau shape, and it’s Angular with a capital A. The triple lugs twist and fold with compound angles, integrating smoothly with the black alligator strap. It dazzled me in its previous gold iteration, but the Blast Moonstruck is pure alien spacecraft.
An angular frame for world travel and moon-gazing
The angular black ceramic and titanium DLC watch case might be a full-on version of Darth Vader’s wristwear of choice, but what a dial it has. Within the dark depths under the domed crystal lies a complex and rather elegant world, quite literally speaking. The Earth, which seemingly floats in the center, is a crystal dome set into the domed sapphire itself, making it a modern version of the classic world timer. The central map of the Earth has been with us since Patek introduced the design in the forties, and here it is an intricate focal point hovering above the dial.
Engraved on a sapphire disc, framed in brushed 18K rose gold, the Northern hemisphere levitates above the Ulysse Nardin sword hands. The ring surrounding it is marked for the 31 days of the month. Indicating the date is a small luminous triangle set on a black lower frame. This brushed oval frame rotates on a central axis and has a moon phase window on its opposite end.
Lunar and solar complexity
The moonphase aperture makes a full circle of the dial within 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes, and 2.9 seconds — the exact length of a lunar month. Above this ovular floating frame sits the sun itself, represented in bronzite with a rose gold surround. It rotates within its own elliptical frame in relation to the moon, marking the 24 hours on the rehaut. This can be set to a second timezone with the intuitive pushers on the left side of the case.
Within these fascinating layers of brushed DLC titanium lies the dark sparkle of Aventurine. A thoughtful yet almost hidden part of the design, it is an Easter egg for those who get close enough to find it. When you notice it, this man-made mineral has the impression of a twinkly night sky with seemingly haphazardly placed stars. The Ulysse Nardin Blast Moonstruck is deeply engaging. As you can see, it binds together the angular case design of the Blast series with the elliptical complexities of the Freak.
Ludwig Oechslin’s touch
Ludwig Oechslin is the Blast Moonstruck’s omniscient designer, known for his own brand Ochs und Junior, which has made my jaw drop. I got a hint from the shadowy teaser images Ulysse Nardin released on its Instagram account. But the end result is simply spectacular, and the price of CHF 75,000 seems almost low for this marvel. Today’s Ulysse Nardin is very much marked by the hand of Oechslin, going back to his first Freak in 2001. It was the very first watch to incorporate Silicium, and Oechslin has not stopped innovating since. As for me, I eagerly await his next piece of horological art. For CHF 75,000, whether you choose the new 45mm Ulysse Nardin Blast Moonstruck on alligator, velvet, or rubber you can be sure of one thing. With each click of the black DLC and rose gold folding clasp, time becomes perhaps even more irrelevant.
Did the new Ulysse Nardin Blast Moonstruck dazzle you with its complexities, or are you a time-only kind of guy? Let us know what feelings this dark craft evoked in our comments section
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