X Marks The Spot: Ulysse Nardin Brings The X Factor To Watches of Switzerland SoHo Via A Unique Pop-Up
While Watches of Switzerland may be the UK's largest luxury multi-brand retailer, ever since it opened its flagship store in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood, it has provided the watch curious and serious collectors alike with an intimate and educational experience.
One of the things that make Watches of Switzerland’s SoHo space so unique is the fact that it offers rotating pop-up shops and exclusive editions that allow buyers to dive deep into specific brands and models.
And starting this month, it’s Ulysse Nardin’s turn in the spotlight.
Beginning in July, visitors to Watches of Switzerland SoHo will get the opportunity to explore the ever-expanding universe of the Ulysse Nardin Freak collection.
First introduced in 2001, the Freak was an incredibly innovative watch, both technologically and cosmetically. It was one of the first high-end watches to use silicon movement components. And it has no dial or hands (the central bridge, aka the flying carousel, acts as a minute hand and a disc which indicates the hours). UN has never stopped tweaking this timepiece. Most notably and recently with the introduction of the entry-level Freak X at SIHH 2019.
For the Soho Pop Up, UN is introducing a limited edition Freak X with marquetry dial, decorated with the silicon material that the original Freak pioneered. To make this stunning face, small pieces of variously colored silicon are cut into roughly 120 segments with a plasma accelerator and then inlaid by hand to create an X-shaped design.
Other members of the Freak family will also make an appearance at the UN pop up shop, including the Freak Vision in rose gold. The company’s exclusive and interactive Leap Motion software will also make its US debut. This technology lets watch lovers use augmented and virtual reality to explore the interworking of the iconic Freak X and to create their own X-Ray visuals. And with a flick of the wrist, you can watch as the individual components of the UN-230 movement fly apart and reassemble.
Of course, one of the great joys of Watches of Switzerland’s experiential retail concept is that it’s all about connecting with connoisseurs. After all, luxury brands like Ulysse Nardin are best appreciated in person. And the Skeleton X must truly be seen to be believed.
Inspired by the Freak Vision, this see-through watch strips away unnecessary decoration, leaving a smaller (42mm) more angular case and a dial which forms an X framed in a rectangle inside a circle. This simple design reveals the new UN-371 manufacture movement, which is based on the Freak Vision’s UN-171 movement and features a super-light balance wheel in silicium, with nickel flyweights and stabilizing micro-blades. To up the X-Ray quality of the Skeleton X, this caliber has been redesigned so that the 96-hour power reserve can be read through the back of the movement.
But the most imaginative Skeleton X is the Magma. Introduced at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, this force of nature is making its North American debut at Ulysse Nardin’s SoHo Pop-up.
This ultra-light watch is composed of carbon-fiber and ultra-cool red, marbled epoxy resin, which means that the case of each Skeleton X Magma is one-of-a-kind. Like the rest of the Skeleton X family, the design is streamlined, its technical elements fully exposed.
THE UN UNIVERSE
While the Freak X Marquetry and the Skeleton X Magma are SoHo exclusives, watch heads will also have the opportunity to access Ulysse Nardin's haute horology offerings, such as the $310,000 Ulysse Nardin Marine Mega Yacht. We had the chance to preview this platinum timepiece at Watches & Wonders in Miami, and it’s truly a masterpiece. What a treat is to be able to take in all the nautical Easter eggs embedded into the Marine Mega Yacht’s design.
The fun part of exploring UN's most recent novelties is that you get to do it in Watches of Switzerland’s Soho boutique. Located on the hip and historic Greene Street, this relaxed space features over 8,000 square of luxury watches. The Ulysse Nardin pop-up is located on the lower level of the loft-like shop, near a library of horological literature and a full-service bar curated by Death & Co.
Ulysse Nardin’s SoHo pop-up is open at Watches of Switzerland through September 2019.
(Photography by Liam O'Donnell)