Ulysse Nardin unveils $70,000 watch louder than your morning alarm
Swiss watchmaker Ulysse Nardin has just shown off what is one of the loudest watches in history, the Hourstrike Phantom, a timpiece which is louder than a vacuum cleaner.
Back in the fifteenth-century, before the days of Super-Luminova, your best bet to tell the time in the dark was using something called a striking watch. A striking watch (or clock) is a device that tells the time by sound rather than by the position of hands on a dial, with the most notable use of this ancient tech in today's world being the minute repeater. 600 years later and this horological function is still being innovated as Ulysse Nardin has teamed with a speaker company to produce a seriously piercing piece.
Linking with high-end speaker company Devialet, a fresh-faced company which is already adored by audiophiles, Ulysse Nardin has created the Hourstriker Phantom, a watch that chimes at a whopping 85 decibels (dB) at a 10 cm distance.
For reference, 85 dB is about as loud as a food processor on full whack, a snow blower, or a passing train. Prolonged exposure to any sound over 85 dB is warned to cause hearing problems. This figure was achieved thanks to the know-how of Devialet as a top audio company and a few clever horological designs from Ulysse Nardin.
Most striking watches insulate the vibrations of the chiming mechanism as to protect the movement surrounding it, the Hourstriker Phantom guides these vibrations down a ‘torsion arm’ towards a disk-like membrane which focuses the sound through eight openings in the watch’s caseback. This results in the vibrations not only being directed away from the fragile UN-610 in-house movement's inner workings, but the vibrations also being amplified to produce a louder noise.
The openings for air/sound vibrations in the caseback
These vibrations, caused by tiny hammers hitting a bell, produce a pleasant chime which occur every hour or half hour as to indicate the time via sound. This function can be switched on or off thanks to pushers on the side of the watch case.
Founded just 12 years ago, Devialet is a French company focusing on producing the highest quality sound devices possible, with its flagship Phantom speaker being capable of sounds up to 108 dB (as loud as a jackhammer) thanks to its 160 patented bits of tech. It wasn’t however just Devialet’s prowess as a speaker-producer which led to its collaboration with Ulysse Nardin, the two companies have family ties.
"Our main goal was to create a high-performance striking watch" explains Patrick Pruniaux, CEO of Ulysse Nardin. "Moreover, it was fate: Emmanuel Nardin, one of Devialet's founders who co-developed the Hourstriker Phantom model is in fact a descendant of the Ulysse Nardin family. You simply couldn't make it up. "
Sticking true to its marine-roots, Ulysse Nardin made the dial of the watch with the indices making a sweep around the outer ring in a uniform fashion, just as a naval-compass does with its indices. The semi-skeletonised, satin-brushed dial is also said to evoke the image of sound waves rippling. The 43mm watch comes in a titanium casing, with applied Arabic indices and hands made from rose gold.
Presented on a black alligator strap, the Hourstriker Phantom is limited to just 85 pieces, a reference to its impressive sound capabilities. It has a price of around US $72,500 and Ulysse Nardin claims this number makes the ticker "the most affordable striking watch on the market." - affordability is of course highly subjective in the high-end watch universe.
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Hear the time of the new exceptional #HourstrikerPhantom. An unparalleled striking watch in the watchmaking industry and born out of the encounter between the French company @Devialet that’s revolutionizing high definition audio and #UlysseNardin. Ref. 6103-132 — #ImplosiveSound #SoundEngineering #HighEndAudio #SoundExperience