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Saturday, April 13, 2024

An Encounter with Wizard Watchmaker Ludwig Oechslin, The Creator of the Ulysse Nardin Freak

Historian, archaeologist, mathematician, thinker and watchmaker, Ludwig Oechslin is the right instance of a polymath whose data throughout totally different disciplines fuels his innovation and creativity. Within the Eighties, his encounter with Rolf W. Schnyder turned Ulysse Nardin into some of the progressive watch manufacturers round. The presentation of a brand new Freak at Dubai Watch Week 2023 gave us the right alternative to take a seat down with this wizard watchmaker. 

Xavier Markl, MONOCHROME – What’s your first horological reminiscence, and the way did you get hooked on watchmaking?

Ludovic Oecshlin – After I was a child at boarding faculty, the varsity bell used to ring each hour of the day. After I went to school, there have been no extra bells to let {that a} class was beginning, and I figured I wanted a watch to inform the time. However I used to be not a wristwatch fan. So, I began on the lookout for a pocket watch. The primary watch that I noticed and needed was a repeater. However it was out of my attain. I purchased a cheaper one, and that is how it began. 

I reckoned that if I weren’t profitable in my research, I’d have to consider another profession to make a residing. I figured I might be a watchmaker or a goldsmith, however I needed to discover a grasp to show me the commerce. So, I went to work as an apprentice with Jörg Spöring. I graduated in Latin, archaeology, Roman and Greek historical past however learnt watchmaking with Jörg Spöring.

Within the Eighties, your encounter with Rolf W. Schnyder turned the normal Ulysse Nardin manufacture into some of the progressive. How was the connection ignited? How was it working collectively? 

With Jörg Spöring, I began crafting astronomical clocks, together with one with an Astrolabium. When Rolf Schnyder acquired Ulysse Nardin, he began travelling round Switzerland, assembly individuals to assist him revive the model. He met Jörg Spöring to search out out if he might make a repeater wristwatch. Then he noticed the Astrolabium and inquired if this might be miniaturized right into a wristwatch. Jörg Spöring answered that he needed to test together with his apprentice who had made that clock. 

Rolf Schnyder (left) and Ludwig Oechslin (proper)

After assembly Rolf Schnyder, I used to be not satisfied that this complication might be integrated right into a wristwatch; it will be tough to learn in that format. I assumed we must always change the strategy and that we must always create a illustration of the sky from a hard and fast place. I made all of the calculations. The Astrolabium Galileo Galilei was so exact that it solely required a correction of simply in the future in 144,000 years! This was the start. Then, there was the concept to create companions for this wristwatch, which materialized within the Planetarium and the Tellurium. That is how the Ulysse Nardin Trilogy of Time got here to life.

The Ulysse Nardin Trilogy of Time (Astrolabium, Planetarium and Tellurium) – picture by Sotheby’s

How did you make the calculations?

I needed to make all of the calculations from scratch. These have been based mostly on prime numbers, utilizing a giant e book and a calculator. There was no CAD on the time.

What are the milestones of that Ulysse Nardin interval?

Effectively, as mentioned, I began the Trilogy of Time after which proposed the Perpetual Calendar (Editor’s Be aware: the primary that might be adjusted each backwards and ahead). The thought of the GMT +/- was proposed by a good friend of Rolf Schnyder, however I needed to discover the technical resolution (Editor’s Be aware: the “+” and “-” of the GMT± correspond to the 2 push-pieces used to immediately change the time zone of the hour hand, whereas the “reference time” aperture at 9 o’clock regularly shows the house time).

Ulysse Nardin Classic Perpetual LudwigUlysse Nardin Classic Perpetual Ludwig
The basic perpetual calendar watch by Ulysse Nardin, developed by Ludwig Oechslin
Ulysse Nardin Classic Dual Time Boutique EditionUlysse Nardin Classic Dual Time Boutique Edition
A Twin Time by Ulysse Nardin, with its + and – correctors on the left facet

Then I proposed the Sonata with a 24-hour alarm operate with minute precision, adopted by the Moonstruck, a watch with world time and a graphic and extremely correct illustration of the Moon’s waxing and waning.

And, in fact, there was the Freak. With each improvement, I undertake an unconventional strategy and attempt to suppose otherwise to search out new options. At all times.

It’s mentioned that you just have been impressed by your work on the restoration of the Vatican Farnese clock.

This was scientific analysis. I discovered quite a bit with the restoration of this clock, analyzing it and understanding the arithmetic of it. It actually lets me be inventive!

The primary purpose is at all times to search out new and higher options than these supplied by conventional clockmaking and watchmaking. The second purpose is to search out options that I can implement myself as a watchmaker. When you need to craft elements by your self, you attempt to make issues easy and unfussy. I make investments time in designing environment friendly options. It’s important to speculate time and work making ready the design once you craft issues by your self.

The primary Freak by Ulysse Nardin

Returning to the Freak. How was this horological UFO born?

The thought of a rotating motion was proposed. I assumed it will make sense for the motion to rotate in an hour to inform the time. I additionally labored on the power provide with a mainspring occupying the entire diameter of the case. Rolf additionally needed to combine my new thought for an escapement. And with this new escapement got here new materials.

Altogether, the Freak is the primary distinctive, all-in-one idea watch. The 5 fundamental components in a watch – the power storage, the power transmission, the escapement, the time indication and the fabric – have been all new on the time!

How are you concerned with Ulysse Nardin immediately? Are you going to work on new developments?

Certainly, I’m engaged on new developments and on the identical time, I’m additionally a part of advertising and marketing actions, like this interview.

What can we count on? Any astronomical complication?

Maybe… the “pipeline” is at all times stuffed with concepts. At all times.

Your horological observe file just isn’t restricted to Ulysse Nardin.

Embassy and I based Ochs and Junior in Lucerne, not with Ulysse Nardin however nonetheless “within the thoughts of Rolf Schnyder”. Ulysse Nardin was not essentially eager about all my concepts; Ochs and Junior developed what Ulysse Nardin was not eager about doing.

And there was the MIH watch, too?

Effectively, that got here earlier than, really. It was the start of the collaboration with Embassy, after which got here Ochs and Junior. It was such an amazing venture that we thought we needed to maintain issues going.

As a veteran of the watch trade, what are the challenges for the watch trade immediately?

Effectively, to be truthful, I’m not eager about what others are doing. I’m growing my very own issues and initiatives I take into account. I’m not doing this to earn cash; simply doing what I take into account… I don’t actually comply with the watchmaking trade’s social media. To me, it’s a bit boring.

For extra data, please learn our in-depth article about the whole historical past of the Ulysse Nardin Freak and go to www.ulysse-nardin.com.


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