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New tourbillon watches: Review of the Ulysse Nardin Marine Tourbillon Grand Feu at SIHH 2017

WOW gives us their take on the new tourbillon by Ulysse Nardin that was presented at SIHH 2017 in Geneva

Jan 26, 2017 | By Ashok Soman

Despite making a list of undoubtedly impressive watches over the course of the fair, our next highlight from SIHH 2017 is the Ulysse Nardin Marine Tourbillon Grand Feu. So, right off the bat here I will confess that Ulysse Nardin has at least two developments, the Regatta Chronograph and the InnoVision 2, that are more newsworthy than the tourbillon here but bear with me. This is a CHF20,000+ offering in stainless steel, which may indeed be a confirmation that the tourbillon is indeed becoming more accessible. In the world of watchmaking, that is a big deal.

The last time a major brand did this, it was TAG Heuer at about this time last year, with the Carrera Heuer -02T. Jean-Claude Biver’s decision to price that piece at CHF15,000 caused no small amount of consternation and hand-wrangling and this move from Ulysse Nardin will no doubt provoke the same. Ok, so for a steel watch the price requires some justification but tourbillon watches from the Swiss majors run upwards of CHF50,000. Similarly, watches with Grand Feu enamel dials don’t exist at the CHF20,000 level (as far as we know).

Additionally, the entire balance in the Marine Tourbillon Grand Feu is executed in silicium. Similar tourbillon executions exist, from Breguet for example, but always in precious metals and never for such a price, needless to say. As far as pioneering silicium is concerned, Ulysse Nardin is on par with the other leaders here, including Breguet, Omega and the rest of the Swatch Group as well as Patek Philippe and Rolex.

Speaking of Omega and Rolex, brands that famously offer a four-year and fiver-year warranty, respectively on all their watches, Ulysse Nardin now joins this exclusive club with a five-year warranty on every new watch. This is possible the most significant development from the Kering-owned Le Locle-based firm. It also shows that watch brands are responding to what I think is a dire need in the business for better after-sales service. Given that most watches, in my experience, don’t require serving for at least a couple of years, we look forward to more such developments in the years to come.