Introducing the Ulysse Nardin Blast MoonstruckBy Suan Futt Yeo
The greatest minds through history have built fantastical instruments and installations to track the movements of the celestial bodies. Continuing in this tradition today is but a handful of watch companies, including Ulysse Nardin. The company’s latest effort in this field, the Blast Moonstruck is based on the same UN-106 movement found in the Moonstruck released more than a decade ago in 2009. In this earlier watch, the focus then was on providing tide information for every geographical region, at a glance. This necessitated graphically displaying the positions of the sun and moon relative to the earth: all that pulling and tugging between sun and moon is the power behind the rhythm of neap tides and spring tides on earth: high tides (spring tides) on the plane where sun, moon and earth are aligned at full/new moon; low tides (neap tides) where the moon’s tug on the tides is moderated by the sun’s weaker pull (as a result of its distance) on the perpendicular during the first and third quarter moons. Additionally, the Moonstruck displayed the date via a central hand, and for travelers, adjustment for local time was a convenient and intuitive affair of using the two pushers on the left of the case to move the hour hand forward or backwards in discrete one-hour steps.
Eight years later in 2017, Ulysse Nardin released the Executive Moonstruck World Timer, essentially the same watch inside with the same movement, but added to the dual time feature of the 2009 watch, this 2017 as its name suggests also featured a world timer to be read off a cities ring. For 2022, the Blast Moonstruck is the 2017 watch thoroughly recast for the mood of the times with the ultra-modern design language of Ulysse Nardin’s Blast collection.
Starting from the center, the Northern Hemisphere as viewed from the North Pole is engraved on the inside of the sapphire crystal. This portion of the sapphire crystal is a dome that protrudes gently from the rest of the box sapphire crystal, giving the Blast Moonstruck a rather spaceship-like side profile akin to the USS Enterprise. It is rimmed in gold by the date track indicated by a pointer.
Moving around the earth on the lower orbit is the moon: an aperture on a rotating disc is used to represent the position of the moon relative to the earth, while an underlying disc shows the phase of the moon. Further from the center is the ring for the sun, which also contains the 24-hour scale to be read off the cities ring on the outer perimeter. As is the case for the Moonstruck watches which preceded it, the moon phase indicator in the Blast Moonstruck makes a rotation once day, such that the lighted side of the moon always faces the sun, as it happens in reality. As before, markings on the sun and moon rings allow one to read tidal information intuitively. The moon phase is accurate to one day’s deviation in 40 years.
The rest of the watch excels for the same intuitiveness of operation: the world timer displays the time in 24 time zones in an instant, while twin pushers on the left side of the case enables easy setting of local time in discrete one-hour steps.
The Blast Moonstruck is not as watertight as its forebears, being water resistant to just 30 meters, but we don’t envision users taking it for a dip or even into the shower. It ships with winder to keep time and calendar information accurate if not worn for periods beyond its 50-hour power reserve.
For the longest time, man ever had to reference the heavens for an idea of where in time he was, not least to deduce his position on earth, and also to order his activities, from planting to warring. This is no longer the case for most. Pilots and sailors have GPS to tell them where they are and how to get to form ‘here’ to ‘there’, while for most of the rest of us, mobile phones keep our gaze largely locked below the horizon and within feet of our noses. But even if we aren’t looking, we nevertheless are sojourners in space, doing laps around the sun at an unfelt 30 kilometers per second, in a tiny, tiny part of a dancehall that is the universe.
Even if mechanical astronomical complications have largely been superseded by newer technologies, it’s a grand gesture that Ulysse Nardin and others like it continue to bear the torch for classic human ingenuity this side of a museum.
Movement: Self-winding UN-106, 4Hz, power reserve of 50 hours
Functions: Hours, minutes, date, dual time, world timer, moon phase, positions of sun and moon, tidal coefficients
Case: 45mm, black ceramic, black DLC titanium, display caseback, water resistant to 30 meters
Strap: Black alligator, velvet or rubber with black DLC titanium and pink gold folding clasp
Price: CHF 75,000 (limited production)