Ulysse Nardin, the Swiss watchmaking brand that gained its reputation thanks to the impeccable quality of its marine chronometers, has once again updated its unique Sonata alarm automatic wristwatch.
First revealed in 2003, the Sonata series presented you with a choice of five models including a GMT, a Big Date, a Count Down, and the Sonata Alarm.
Speaking the same design language as the iconic Freak, the then-new series featured a characteristic dial that the brand’s artisans skeletonized to such an extent that it took no more than one-fourth of the real estate. The rest was left to the baseplate that was decorated with Cotes de Geneve motif.
This time, the beautiful timepiece comes fitted with an even freakier choice of materials.
The new Ulysse Nardin Sonata Silicium Limited Edition men’s watch has its golden dial replaced with a piece cut out of a silicon wafer.
Yes, a close relative of the one that powers your computer and your iPhone and your microwave oven has finally made it to the sacred world of la Haute Horlogerie. Dreams do come true. Sure.
Although some people may find the choice of materials outrageous, to me the silicon dial looks like a good solution to Sonata’s innate problem with legibility and lack of harmony: the dark-blue piece of Silicium nicely separates the elegant oval-shaped hour and minute hands from the second-layer dial with its curtain-like Geneva stripes decoration.
The rest of the watch didn’t undergo any visible changes.
The watch is still powered by Ulysse Nardin‘s patented UN-66 self-winding movement consisting of more than 450 parts and featuring 109 jewels to ensure as low friction as possible, although this particular model features the patent-pending Silicium (1.1.1) cut hairspring.
As usual for a brand of this caliber, the mechanism is decorated in the most satisfying way. Although some may find it a bit Spartan (well, it is Spartan, especially if you compare it to hand-crafted, hand-assembled, hand-engraved, and hand-anything else movements produced by A. Lange & Sohne), it in fact very nicely matches both the spirit of the brand and the general feeling of the timekeeper.
Its Geneva stripes motifs (circular on the bridge and vertical on the base plate, which is clearly visible behind the silicon wafer part of the dial) give the watch its technical appearance that looks like a nice transition between traditions and the future.
The massive oscillating weight, too, looks very impressive with its random engraving that makes a very good background for the brand’s easily recognizable “anchor” logo.
Returning to the timekeeper’s dial for just a minute, I must admit that it is still far from being easily readable, but that, too, seems to be a part of the story. In an age of Postmodern when you can get all its functionality from an inexpensive portable electronic device, all parts of the dial are deliberately made more decorative than functional, although (with a bit of practice) you can still easily read the current time and date: that’s all that you really need, I suppose.
Sonata’s long list of functions includes 24h alarm with a Cathedral gong, a countdown indicator, a dual time system with an instant time zone adjustor, and a big date in a double-window.
Ulysse Nardin plans to sell no more than 500 of these gorgeous timekeepers.
Photos: Ulysse Nardin
Ulysse Nardin Sonata Silicium specification
Movement: UN-66 self-winding caliber, Swiss Made
Complications: Hours, Minutes, Center Seconds, 24-hour Dual-Time, Chiming Alarm, Countdown, On/off indicator for alarm adjusted from the button on the left crown
Power reserve: 42 hours
Case: 18k white gold, 18k rose gold, solid back to ensure the best alarm sound
Diameter: 42.00 mm
Case height: 13.00 mm
Dial: Silicon, natural color
Water resistance: 50 meters
Strap: Crocodile leather
Crystal: Sapphire crystal