Ulysse Nardin Stranger for Only Watch 2015

By Harlan Chapman-Green

You might well remember that a while ago we covered the Ulysse Nardin Stranger Vivaldi watch, this version is like the evil twin of that watch. It’s dark, mysterious and the red pickups of the music mechanism just seem so menacing on the watch, and they make a great contrast to the black of the watch as well.

As a member of the very exclusive smaller top level independent watchmaker’s companies, a collection of companies such as Kari Voutilainen, Peter Speake-Marin and Greubel Forsey. To put Ulysse Nardin’s position into perspective, the Stranger watch was unveiled at Baselworld this year in the form of the Stranger Vivaldi which was the next incarnation of a long line of Stranger models.


To understand the complexity of adding a musical system into the watch, first we should compare it to the most complex complication. A minute repeater/striking system usually uses hammers and gong springs to make sound, the hammers strike the gongs which in turn reverberate around the watch. It’s very complicated as the repeater needs to know the time and then translate it into sound using only mechanical gears and other parts. While the music box mechanism itself isn’t as complex as the minute repeater, it does pose some unique challenges that can be just as puzzling. The first and foremost being the sound generator, with music boxes, there are two main types that you might be familiar with. The first is the Swiss barrel type which is seen on all Reuge pieces as well as the all three versions of the Music Machine they created in partnership with MB&F. This system places teeth onto a rotating barrel, the comb is placed parallel to the barrel, close enough to the teeth to pluck the individual strips of the comb and produce a music note. The barrel design produces a slightly quieter version than the second variant, but all manner of things such as drums or bells can be added to it to play along, barrel types can also support multiple songs on the same barrel, making it like a vintage iPod. The other type is the disc which uses a rotating disc and often produces a louder sound at the cost of not being able to easily support multiple songs. F.G Otto & Son in the USA made disc music boxes as an example, and this type has appeared in this new Ulysse Nardin piece too.


This watch doesn’t play Vivaldi, instead it takes on a more modern form using the song “We Are the Champions”, the smash hit by one of the biggest bands ever, the UK born and bred Queen, you can even play it on demand, another complex addition to the piece.

Yet another difference between this watch and the Stranger Vivaldi is the black appearance, the titanium of the case has been PVD coated in black, the dial has been blackened too with contrasting white and red indicators and the brown leather strap has been replaced with a black strap. The automatic movement inside the watch is the same as that in the Vivaldi, except of course for the music system. This means in house construction, a date display and a good 48 hours of power reserve, here’s yet another watch where the profits will go to an excellent cause.


Can you guess what this watch will sell for when it goes under the hammer at Only Watch this November? Stay with WristReview to find out!

For more info, please visit ulysse-nardin.com



A keen bass guitar player, Harlan enjoys all the perks modern watchmaking technologies the industry has to offer. Although you might catch him sampling Omegas or the odd Rolex, Harlan loves all things Haute Horology, with his three favourite brands being Breguet, A.Lange & Söhne and Vacheron Constantin. He hopes to study timekeeping more in depth someday and will never be able to thank his father enough for introducing him to the industry. You can follow him on Instagram Read his articles here