Ulysse Nardin just launched a new wristwatch in its Blast Collection. The Blast Moonstruck is a natural evolution in the line-up, coming with an entire series of astronomical complications. The astronomical poetry is interpreted again by the genius of Ludwig Oechslin, bringing an exceptional, simplified and easy to comprehend set of complications to the wrist. Wanting to better understand the watch, I asked Jean-Christophe Sabatier and Augustin Nussbaum for help in confirming and explaining the complexity and, at the same time, the simplicity of the new piece.
Encountering astronomical complications from Ulysse Nardin
The first astronomical watch that I had in my hands was the Ulysse Nardin Tellurium Johannes Keppler, which focused on the Earth, depicted as a rotating disc in the centre. It used bent wires hovering over the disc to display where on earth it is currently day (above) or night (below) while the times for sunset and sunrise could be read at the tips of the wire. The complexity, yet simplicity of the display absolutely blew my mind.
Bringing the sky on the wrist – the Blast Moonstruck
Ulysse Nardin continues the vertical Odyssey up in the skies. After an impressive set of watches featuring skeletonisation, tourbillons and hour striker, the brand reveals an incredible astronomical watch depicting the sky from the perspective of the simple man – as it can be naturally observed day by day.
The Blast Moonstruck packs an entire series of complications: time and date, Moon phase indication and the days of the lunar month, tidal coefficients, dual time and the position of the Sun and Moon around the globe. The watch presents the visible world in a geocentric approach, putting the human being in the centre of its universe.
Expanding the universe in a burst – the Blast case
The Ulysse Nardin Blast Moonstruck comes in the largest size of the Blat Collection – 45 mm. We can recognise the multi-faceted design with an integrated strap. Manufactured in black ceramic and black DLC titanium, the watch is unusual light and wearable. Those familiar with the astronomical watches of Ulysse Nardin might remember the few mm larger cases – the beauty of the Classico collection. But the new piece is well anchored in the present time using the strong contemporary language and high tech materials – a strong argument favouring the brand.
But you might notice the lack of the bezel, that was removed to make free estate for the multitude of information available at the turn of the wrist. We now have a superb executed box crystal. And if having an interesting sapphire face would not be enough, the crystal is actively used to display information.
It’s simple but complicated, it’s complicated but simple
Ludwig Oechslin manifests his genius again by simplifying the way the surrounding world reveals.
“Why an astronomical watch? Because everything that has regular cycles can be reproduced mechanically and so be read on a dial Encapsulating time is the watchmaker’s art Freeing it is that of the philosopher In a way, the Blast Monstruck encapsulates but above all it liberates the mind It’s that simple” – Ludwig Oechslin
Time and Date
The time and the Dual time functions are well known between the fans of the brand. I actually have a Dual Time from the Classico collection and I love the ease of set and use of this simple but extremely useful complication. The central hands can jump back and forth with a simple button push (the plus and minus push-buttons on the left side of the case)
The date is represented by the central ring holding the engraved crystal depicting the view of the Earth from the North pole. A black hand, positioned under the hours and minutes hands, uses a triangle with SuperLuminova insert to point the exact date on the engraved gold ring (seen above near the hours’ hand).
The Moon, the Sun
Outside the time hands, we can notice the ellipse display of the Moon and, respectively, the Sun. These are rotating according to the mechanical laws of the universe, displaying in a simplified manner the position of the astronomical bodies, as we can see it in the sky. But using the Worldtimer complication, we can easily notice that for any place on Earth. In this way, one can easily comprehend and understand the time.
The Sun is the easiest to represent – a bronzite stone enclosed in gold and surrounded by aventurine “starry sky” that rotates cyclically for 24 hours. This metamorphoses the simple night/day complication into a complex show for the entire world. One can easily say where is night and where is day, plus the position of the Sun on the sky for each corner of the world.
The Moon is complicated
While the Moon display has similar behaviour, it holds underneath a much more complicated function – the age of the Moon. Because depicting a sky object might be “simple”, but showing the entire behaviour is not…
Using a disc placed underneath, Ulysse Nardin is able to display not only the position of the Moon around the globe on the sky but also its age (moon-phase). Of course, this complicated things a bit since the disc is quite big and needs certain energy to be rotated.
Note the multitude of ball bearings keeping the display’s rotation smooth. The disc position is fine-tuned using the three visible screws.
To fill the rest of the empty space, Ulysse Nardin chose again the magic aventurine. The well choice of materials and positions makes the complicated dial look natural and uncluttered. The legibility is excellent.
As you can see, it is 10:10 on the 28th. The Midway has the most of the Sun while in Dhaka we can still notice the Moon in the morning sky while for us it is too deep in the day and too aside to notice it.
While having the Moon and Sun on the wrist is nice. Understanding the relationship between these astro-bodies and us is even nicer. We all know that the Moon and the Sun influence the tides. Some species are governed by the influence of those two. People as well are influenced by the relationship between the Moon and the Sun. While the modern man, closed between concrete walls and neon lights might not understand the importance of it, before the industrial revolution, humanity depended on it. A full Moon will allow on a clear night to travel or to hunt. Fishing is one of the activities strong influenced by this relationship and so on. That is why the Ulysse Nardin Blast Moonstruck bears this name – because we are more dependent on the Moon as we might realise and having a wrist companion able to reveal this relationship between Moon, Sun and us might be, besides lovely, quite useful.
Manufacture calibre UN 106
The Blast Moonstruck is powered by the calibre UN-106 – an in-house movement developed under the attentive care and specifications of Ludwig Oechslin. The master takes the words of Leonardo Da Vinci “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” by the hearth. He was able not only to understand the complex mechanics of the universe but also to transpose that knowledge in a horological masterpiece. While displaying astronomical functions might be “easy”, the ability to simplify the set and display in a manner that anyone can just do it by some crown turns is fantastic.
The UN106 has 335 components of which 42 are jewels. A solid rose gold rotor weight governed the darkened movement. One can easily notice the lovely polished chamfer applied to all edges. The circular Genevan waves are interrupted only by the engravings and lovely UN heraldic logo. The blued screws bring a touch of colour to the bridges.
A blast into the future.
Ulysse Nardin impresses again with an exceptional piece. Continuing clear lines of the Blast collection, the savoir-faire of the master Oechslin genius, the Moonstruck is an ultra-modern piece centring the man (the human). All are presented in incredible simplicity. Just like the Moon and Sun travel in the sky, as simple as that, the watch reveals the world seen through other eyes – this time, ours.
Being able to set the watch in such an easy manner, makes the supplied winding box almost unnecessary: it is nice to have the watch always ready to go, but the pleasure and thrill of setting it by myself is something just Ulysse Nardin is offering (those that know the perpetual Ludwig will understand me).
Ulysse Nardin Blast Moonstruck Technical Specifications
Reference 1063 400 2A/3A
- UN 106 Manufacture calibre
- Automatic winding
- Hours, minutes, date
- Moon phase indication
- Days of lunar month
- Tidal coefficients
- Dual Time
- Positions of the sun and moon around the globe
- 335 components / 42 jewels
- 4 Hz / 28,800 V/H
- Power reserve: 50 hours
- Black ceramic
- Black DLC titanium
- Sapphire crystal
- Case back: Open case back, sapphire crystal & black DLC titanium
- 5N Rose gold oscillating weight
- Diameter: 45 mm
- Water-resistance 30 m
- Black alligator, velvet, or rubber
- SYNC folding clasp, black DLC titanium and pink gold
- 75’000 CHF / 71.300 EUR