Swiss luxury watchmaking company Ulysse Nardin was founded in 1846 in Le Locle, Switzerland and is acclaimed highly accurate marine chronometers and complicated timepieces used by over fifty of the world’s navies till 1950. The company today designs and manufactures luxury watches, dual time watches and marine chronometers.
To achieve astronomical precision and accuracy for the company’s timepieces.
Born in 1823 in Le Locle, Switzerland, Ulysse Nardin trained as a horologist under his father, Léonard-Frédéric Nardin, and honed his skills working with Frédéric-William Dubois and Louis Jean Richard-dit-ressel. In 1846, he founded his own company in Le Locle which later became one of the first to manufacture marine chronometers and high-precision seafaring instruments for commercial ships and navies. At the 1862 International Exhibition in London, Ulysse Nardin was awarded Prize Medal in “complicated watches and pocket chronometers”. When he poised away in 1876, his son Paul-David Nardin succeeded him as head of the company. In 1889, the company won Gold Medal at Paris Universal Exhibition, two Swiss patents in 1890 and First Prize at Chicago Universal Exhibition in 1893.
In 1902, the company began delivering marine chronometers to the US Navy, won Washington Naval Observatory competitions and became official supplier for the US Navy’s torpedo boats.The company has since provided timepieces to the navies of the United States, United Kingdom, Russia and Japan. Since the 1870s, over fifty navies and international shipping companies had been equipped with Ulysse Nardin marine chronometers. In 1975, Neuchâtel Observatory published a report stating that Ulysse Nardin was awarded 4,324 performance certificates for mechanical marine chronometers. However, due to the quartz crisis, Ulysse Nardin faced challenges in late Seventies and early Eighties. In 1983, the company was acquired by Rolf Schnyder who, in collaboration with watchmakers such as Ludwig Oechslin, revived the brand.Rolf Schnyder served as its CEO and transformed the business. In 1996, Ulysse Nardin released its first marine chronometer wristwatch “Marine Chronometer 1846” and first perpetual calendar “Perpetual Ludwig”.
After Schnyder’ death in 2011, his wife Chai helmed the company till it was acquired by French luxury group Kering in 2014. In 2017, the company appointed former Apple executive Patrick Pruniaux as its CEO. The brand participates in Only Watch, a charity auction operated under the patronage of Prince Albert II, where watchmaking companies create timepieces to raise funds for research on neuromuscular diseases. Since, Ulysse Nardin is official sponsor of Sweden’s Artemis Racing team at America’s Cup; Monaco Yacht Show and Miami Yacht Show. In 2019, Ulysse Nardin released three new calibers. The company still occupies its original headquarters in Le Locle, one of the main watch production hubs in northwest Switzerland, and has manufacturing plants in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Le Locle and Sion. While marine wrist chronometers are a specialty, it produces luxury complicated timepieces with high sophistication for men and women.
In recent times, per Forbes, Kering-owned Swiss watch brands Ulysse Nardin and Girard Perregaux cut a quarter of their total workforce after sales were hit by the coronavirus crisis.
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