Ulysse Nardin is getting a breath of fresh air! The doors of 10, quai du Général-Guisan opened on the new Ulysse Nardin flagship store last Thursday: a completely new space measuring 2000 square feet, entirely dedicated to the Maison’s collections. Located in Geneva, the capital of prestige watchmaking, this new storefront promises to be the key boutique of the Le Locle-based brand, with a new contemporary architectural concept entrusted to architect Bertrand Fairerol, founder of BF RETAIL DESIGN & ARCHITECTURE in Paris and London. Without being too literal, the sea is invited into the heart of this bright and airy project by playing up the concepts that evoke it. Like a slice of a panorama, the new Ulysse Nardin store concept follows a natural order: the sea below, the sky above, and the horizon that separates them.
Two years after Patrick Pruniaux took up the helm of the company in September 2017, Ulysse Nardin is still riding the wave of modernity: new life has been brought to the brand through the new crown jewel of its boutiques, in the heart of a historic building and just a few steps away from the bustling Rue du Rhône, an area housing the stores of the biggest names in luxury. While Ulysse Nardin has operated a store in Geneva since 2000, it goes without saying that this new address will be a complete 360 for the brand. As a matter of fact, together with the Moscow and Shanghai stores, the Geneva boutique is Ulysse Nardin’s most important to date and the only one in Europe—for the moment—to feature this new architectural concept.
“It’s a perfect location, which Ulysse Nardin chose to showcase its creations,” explains Françoise Bezzola, Chief Marketing Officer of the brand. “Our new retail concept is younger and more dynamic than before, and follows a brand rejuvenation strategy that started close to two years ago. It features subtle marine nuances, which have been characteristic of Ulysse Nardin since its beginnings, and will be rolled out in all retail locations. We must remember that Ulysse Nardin is a 95% wholesale brand, whose strength comes from its exclusive network of retailers. Ulysse Nardin runs only a few stores worldwide: Dubai (open June 2019 with the new concept), Shanghai (open June 2019 with the new concept), Beijing (open August 2019 with the new concept), Moscow (two new stores with the new concept planned in 2020). That is why it is so important to feature architecture in line with the message we want to send our clients, one that allows us to offer them an experience on par with our ambitions.”
Starting in August, the very first visitors to the Geneva store discovered a spacious, airy, well-arranged boutique with an impeccable flow and clarity. The space is laid out in several areas: client reception, showcases, and product discovery, along with a VIP room.
Playing up both contemporary and natural styles, using refined, raw, patinated or brushed materials on which time can leave its trace, Ulysse Nardin achieves a bold contrast with the facades of the historic building. The space features an array of details as a nod to the watchmaker of the seas: display counters in raw stone (a mineral composite smooth in certain areas and textured in others) reminiscent of submerged rocks; unique translucent light fixtures in blown Murano glass, suspended like drops of water falling from the sky; display cases and screens that evoke the air and the horizon; touches of blue that echo “Ulysse Nardin blue,” and by extension the blue of the sea; and finally, sand-colored oak wood that reconciles surface, depth, and the shore… The entire concept brings us above and below the water, in a chic and zen ambiance. The design is vibrant, in complete contrast with its color and density. The sea and water in all its forms are widespread throughout the boutique, dancing in a ballet of transparency and light. Movement, reflections of light, and transparent/opaque contrasts were conceived to provide an impression of lightness and elegance. A deep dive into where time is suspended.
AN ODE TO NATURE – FOUR NEW FREE WHEEL MODELS
Dancing center stage in this ballet of nature, timepieces are laid bare on the display counter. These new additions by Ulysse Nardin, all FREE WHEEL models, each feature a different watch face. The ode to nature and to the elements continues, with the FREE WHEEL dials made of aventurine, osmium, Carbonium® Gold and tinted straw, each referring to an element of the boutique as if to give a final touch to this new environment.
Aventurine, the translucent, dark blue quartz, evokes the surface of the ocean at night, when the stars are twinkling and reflected by the thousands.
Carbonium® Gold, a carbon composite with black, gray and golden marbling, recalls the raw material of the display counter, smooth in certain areas and textured in others.
Straw marquetry, whose every blade has been split, cut and prepared by hand by master craftspeople, catches the light of the boutique in shimmering and muted black beams.
The fourth FREE WHEEL is decorated in osmium. The rarest, densest and most stable element in the world, osmium shines in silvery blue, reminiscent of the translucent glass lamps suspended like drops of water.
Sea, sand, and minerals
The sea: the movement of the waves, the color blue… these nuances are called to mind through the blue rugs and translucent beige resin flooring. Between transparency and opacity, reflects and matte finishes, sharpness and flow, water is conveyed through various types of glass and resins.
The tables evoke the mineral aspect of rocks, polished by the swells breaking against the reef, while curving white carpets encapsulate the sand, emerging from the sea as an islet.
Sky and air
This intangible element forms the atmosphere. Light is filtered through it by water, ever present in its various forms: clouds, rain, mist… As if suspended, a set of glass panels in varying degrees of translucency filters soft, diffused light in the background. The architect also added hanging glass light fixtures that represent drops of water, along with a textured ceiling to depict the presence of clouds.
The horizon is treated as an element in its own right. Where the water and the air meet, this band borrows codes from both these elements: materiality/immateriality, transparency, overlapping, movement, depth.
You can visit the boutique at this address:
Ulysse Nardin Boutique
10 quai du Général-Guisan
+41 22 740 10 11