Thursday October 6, 2011

1Malaysia timepiece: An innovation of time

One of the finest Swiss luxury watch brands has created a fitting tribute to the adopted country of its late president.

FOR a Swiss watchmaker who spent much of his time in Malaysia with his wife and children, it was only fitting that an exclusive, limited edition watch was specially created for his “adopted” country.

The Ulysse Nardin 1Malaysia timepiece commemorates Malaysia’s unique ethnic harmony. The special edition is limited to just 25 pieces in rose gold ceramic bezel and 75 in stainless steel each bearing the 1Malaysia emblem in the dial.

The 1Malaysia timepiece is currently being showcased at the Swiss Watch Gallery’s Timepieces – Today, Tomorrow and Forever exhibition until Oct 9 at Pavilion Kuala Lumpur to celebrate its 10th anniversary.

The Ulysse Nardin Limited Edition 1Malaysia Timepiece celebrates Malaysia’s unique ethnic harmony.

“Ulysse Nardin has undertaken highly exclusive limited edition watches in various countries before. The 1Malaysia watch is very special as our late president, Datuk Rolf Schnyder, had conceptualised numerous award-winning mechanical masterpieces from his home base in Kuala Lumpur,” explains Francois Pici, Ulysse Nardin Asia Pacific area manager.

Ulysse Nardin’s logo of an anchor is a reminder of its heritage as the world’s best source for mechanical marine chronometers dating back to 1903. Then, merchant vessels and battleships around the world had depended on the legendary M.Gr.F. model to enable their navigators to determine their precise locations at sea in the days prior to satellites and GPS.

When Schnyder acquired the company in 1983, Ulysse Nardin had become an ailing business. Today, Ulysse Nardin is renowned for its extraordinary concepts and innovations.

Schynder chanced upon a wall clock astrolabe which the watchmaker apprentice Ludwig Oechslin had made and asked him to reduce the astrolabe to a wristwatch. The Astrolabium Galileo Galilei was born under Oechslin’s Trilogy of Time series, eventually securing an entry into the Guinness Book of World Records. Thus began Ulysse Nardin’s ingenuity and originality in crafting fine watches.

Master watchmaker Gaetan Bessonet says he loves the challenge of creating a watch from start to finish.

The astrolabium was the first of a thrilling trio of astronomical wristwatches. It was followed by the Planetarium Copernicus, which combines the ancient notion of a geocentric universe with a more recent Copernican heliocentric concept whereby its dials feature the sun, moon and five planets. The Tellurium Johannes Kepler depicting the earth in polar project completes the trio, also with mesmerising movements in high complications.

“Ulysse Nardin’s reputation for stellar artisanship continues to this day as the brand has received over 4,300 awards in watch-making, 18 of them gold medals,” says Pici.

“Only 28,000 pieces were made last year using sophisticated, modern tools by hand. Ulysse Nardin creates every watch including the tiniest parts and individual tools needed to craft the parts.”

Master watchmaker, Gaetan Bessonet, 35, who started his apprenticeship when he was 15, says he loves the challenge of creating a watch from start to finish. Even the steel cases are made in Switzerland.

“It gives us a sense of pride and accomplishment to construct an entire watch by hand. It is possible to know which watchmaker has made it just by looking at the individual piece as we have unique ‘signatures’,” says Bessonet.

Pici explains that Ulysse Nardin is already experimenting with new technology and ideas a decade in advance. A new calibre requires up to five years just for its conceptualisation.

Although the brand image is masculine, especially due to its heritage as a trusted marine chronometer for the navy around the world, Ulysse Nardin today is creating more feminine pieces for an increasingly growing segment of women consumers. These more delicate pieces often include precious gemstones.

“A Ulysse Nardin watch is not a fashionable piece, but a form of heritage that grows in value as it is passed on to the next generation,” Pici says.

“Ulysse Nardin timepieces are rarely the first watch for most of our customers. They are often collected by those who have already attained their first timepieces. As they delved deeper into the world of watches they gained a stronger awareness and knowledge into the infinitely fascinating world of horology.

“This is where they appreciate Ulysse Nardin’s unprecedented inventions in horology where science, art and imagination are encapsulated in each single piece,” he concludes.


DURING the Timepieces – Today, Tomorrow and Forever exhibition at Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, there are preferential privileges for acquisitions made from now till Oct 9:

> Receive a special edition Swiss Watch Gallery watch winder or a special edition luxurious leather watch and jewellery box with every purchase.

> Receive an additional gift – a special edition watch box with purchases made with any UOB credit card.

> Receive an additional Tumi gift with purchases made with a BMW White Card.

> For purchase made with a Malaysian UOB credit card, enjoy 12 or 18 months 0% interest instalment payment plan.

> For purchase of selected high-end jewellery and tourbillon timepieces, customers are entitled to a free factory trip: three-day/two-night stay and visit to the brand’s factory and two return flight tickets (business class).

Selected timepieces include Freak Diavolo, Erotica and Blacksmiths Minute Repeater from Ulysse Nardin; Metamophosis and Tourbillon Bi-Cylindrique from Montblanc; Retrograde Tourbillon and Grande Complication from IWC; and Signature YG Pave Ceramic from Vertu.

Pre-registration for admission is required. To register, simply log on to or call 012-588 0786.

Alternatively, e-mail: or type SWGYour nameYour e-mail address and SEND to 63660.


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