Jean-Christophe Sabatier – chief marketing product officer, Ulysse Nardin – talks to us about the brand’s new launches and its reputation for limited edition watches with erotic themes
Can you tell us more about the watches that you launched at SIHH?
You have probably seen the Ulysse Nardin shark that has been passed through X-rays. The X-rays express the concept that we are proposing this year, which is about the notion of transparency. The purpose of this notion of transparency is to present the inner beauty of our product. We have two-star products that we presented. One is called Freak X, and the other is the Skeleton X. They have something in common, which is the fact that they have no dial. With Freak, it’s a concept you probably already know, because it was presented 15 years ago with huge success. The concept is simple – it has no dial and no hand, so the time is indicated by the movement. So here, of course, you find the notion of transparency by the fact that the sapphire glass is directly opened to the movement.
We are presenting this piece with the flying carrousel because it is really the DNA signature of the Freak collection. So the hours are indicated by the wheel and the minutes are indicated by the bridge that is carrying the flying carrousel.
The principle is a little bit different from the Skeleton X. With Freak, design follows technicality. With Skeleton X, it is the opposite. You can turn the watch and can see the reverse, fully transparent side of the movement. These two pieces carry the best of Ulysse Nardin technology. They also have another thing in common, which is that they are a little bit smaller than their predecessors – 42mm for the Skeleton X and 43mm for the Freak X, which means they are more versatile and easy to wear.
The new diver watches you launched are more stripped down in their design, with a cleaner, uncluttered look. What was the idea behind this?
Ulysse Nardin has always, by tradition, proposed a sense of design. But we will also try to maybe bring attention to small details, to small finishings and the additional value into the finishing. We propose a very coherent offering, with the content and also the package of the content.
Till recently, Ulysse Nardin diver watches were known for their 44mm size. Why this shift to the 42mm case?
Before the diver was 44mm and we are renewing that piece with a new 44mm model, so we still propose something at 44mm, but we have simply added a smaller size, which is the 42mm. We believe that there is a demand for both styles, the 44 is more sporty while the 42 is more for day-to-day wear.
In general, do you think that men are now going back to smaller watches?
What I believe is that there will still be some large size watches in the market, but maybe, we will do large watches only when necessary, for technical purposes or design purposes. I will say that diversity is coming back into the market.
Are you familiar with India as a market?
I have been to India for private reasons, not professional, so I know a little bit about the country. Generally speaking, what I believe is that Ulysse Nardin is very well appreciated in India. We are enjoying a good level of awareness, so I think we have a reputation and also the awareness, even though we are a specialist brand. I also receive some requests from there about combinations, particularly around the golden colour – steel and gold. From time to time, it happens that we do some product adaptations that satisfy our clients. We are, this year, presenting a collaboration with an artist called Milo Manara, and his comic books are erotic. As you probably know, we have a tradition at Ulysse Nardin to present erotic timepieces.
Yes, your last one was a minute repeater.
Correct. Last year, we brought to the market a minute repeater and this year, we are bringing a new story to the market. It is also linked to the X signature, and we are playing with the letters. We are proposing a collection of limited editions, which are reproductions of a story that has been drawn by Manara for Ulysse Nardin. You can read this story from the right to left or left to right. We have some micro-painters who have reproduced the original drawing exactly into the dial of the watch. Each reproduction takes 50 hours of work, and we are proposing to our clients these micro-painted dials in classical steel or classical gold pieces, in limited editions of 10 pieces. When you look at the story, you find all the Ulysse Nardin DNA.