Ulysse Nardin - Mechanical matters Featured

Our interview with the legendary watchmaker's new CEO
by 28 March 2012

The Ulysse Nardin headquarters are located in Le Locle in Switzerland, the ticking heart of world-class watchmaking.The premises are a statement that speaks for themselves. Painted in light marine blue and the brand’s signature anchor emblem, the 166-year-old building houses some of the world’s finest watchmakers, all committed to developing the highly prized and innovative Ulysse Nardin watch movements. Parts are designed by engineers and carefully manufactured with the latest technology under the vigilant eye of experienced watchmakers at the factory in La Chaux-de-Fonds and brought to be assembled and finished here.

Last year, Ulysse Nardin suffered the loss of its owner and CEO Rolf Schnyder, whose vision had led the brand out of the watch world depression of the Eighties, a time when the Swiss watch industry took a toll from the advent of competitive Japanese quartz watches. With Schnyder’s acumen, Ulysse Nardin invested in creating its own technology and in training its people, positioning itself as a house of haute horology that focused on continuous innovation.

We sat down for a chat with the brand’s new CEO Patrik P. Hoffmann  to talk about what the future holds for Ulysse Nardin

What sets Ulysse Nardin apart from other Swiss watch brands?

Independence and innovation are two key concepts that allow us to make a difference with Ulysse Nardin. We are an independently owned company, which means we are all a big family, and that’s very rare today. We also have the independence to produce our own movements from A to Z.

What is the biggest challenge Ulysse Nardin faces today as a manufacturer?

Most of the small, independent companies and workshops that create watch parts are being purchased by big groups. We are pursuing a similar strategy on our side, on a smaller scale. We recently purchased a dial factory in Le Locle and we have also been purchasing small workshops to blend into our production processes.

How would you describe the company’s philosophy in a sentence?

You can sell one of the most precious products available in the market and still have both feet on the floor.

What do timepiece aficionados associate Ulysse Nardin with?

The lifestyle suggested by Ulysse Nardin is contrary to today’s fast, efficiency-focused lifestyle. With our brand, we are trying to slow down life. We also present a kind of understatement in luxury. The waiter in a restaurant will not recognize the brand, but in a board meeting, everyone will notice. People whom you want to know will know.

Ulysse Nardin worldwide boutiques