Seventeen years after the completion of the historical astronomical “Trilogy of Time” Ulysse Nardin has developed another revolutionary astronomical timepiece with the distinct DNA of Dr. Ludwig Oechslin.
Dr. Ludwig Oechslin’s concept focused on the system of Sun, Earth and Moon, concentrating on the scientifically accurate depiction of the moon phase, and the global influence of lunar and solar gravitation, resulting in the ebb and flow of the tides. By combining the movement of two rotating discs in one display, the moon phase indication is so precise that more than 100,000 years will have to pass before it shows a full moon rather than a new moon (or vice versa).
The Moonstruck simulates the rotation of the Moon around the Earth, as well as the apparent movement of the Sun around the globe. The latter is shown by another disc, rotating once every 24 hours. This permits the determination of the current moon phase in relation to any location in the world.
The Moonstruck also shows the global dynamics of tides that depend upon the gravitational effects of Moon and Sun. This revolutionary mechanical wristwatch illustrates the current tidal status and trend in relation to specific coastlines or oceans.
The cumulative influences of the Moon and Sun which result in spring tides are also clearly shown. The Moonstruck is a practical travel companion. It features a pointer calendar and a quick-setting device to adjust the hour hand forward and backward to any desired time zone by pressing the pushers plus and minus located at 8 and 10 o’clock.
The Moonstruck is a Ulysse Nardin in-house development. The manufacture caliber UN 106 features a silicium escapement and a hairspring made with the latest silicium technique. The Moonstruck is available in a limited edition of 500 pieces in 18 ct red gold and 500 pieces in platinum.
Ref. 1062-113: Moonstruck Red Gold
Ref. 1069-113: Moonstruck Platinum
Caliber UN-106 (in-house developed, conceived and manufactured.)
Power-Reserve: Approx. 50 h
Winding : Mechanical self-winding, bi-directional
Indication of position of Sun and Moon in relation to Earth
Hours and minutes
Instant time zone
adjuster with patented quick setting device
Water-resistance :100 m
Crystal :Anti-reflective sapphire crystal
Case-back :Anti-reflective sapphire crystal
Crown :Screw down security crown
Hand painted Earth on Mother of Pearl dial
Alligator leather strap and folding buckle
Limited edition of 500 pieces in red gold and 500 pieces in platinum
Ulysse Nardin Moonstruck in detail
1. Earth disc.
The Earth is depicted as seen from a location above the North Pole. However, it does not revolve itself; instead the rotation of the globe is simulated by the movement of Sun and Moon around the Earth.
2. Sun disc and 24 hour indicator
The symbol of the Sun is revolving around the Earth in 24 hours, reproducing the apparent movement of the Sun, when seen from a place on the Earth itself. The depiction of the continents on the Earth disc permits a rough estimate of the region where it is currently noon, above which area on the Earth the Sun has reached its zenith. With its numerals from 1 to 24, the sun disc also displays the current Greenwich Mean Time that is to be read at the hour marker line at the dial’s 6 o’clock position. Please note that the sun disc’s position indicates a Universal Solar Time and one can read the solar time anyplace around the world; it does not show the legal time.
3. Scientifically accurate depiction of the moon phase.
The new, patented mechanics for the display of the moon phase consists of two discs stacked upon each other, rotating around a fixed reproduction of the Earth globe in the center.
On the top disc is a circular cut-out, indicating the position of the moon in relation to Earth and Sun, with the lower disc containing a sinusoidal wave of bright colour on a dark background serving as the moon phase indication. As the moon cut-out moves over the lower disc with the bright and dark sectors, it shows the complete dark window (= new moon) becoming increasingly bright, until it is filled with bright colour to indicate a full moon and starts waning again.
The lower disc also rotates, enabling the construction of a highly accurate moon phase display. One of the challenges with mechanical moon phase indications is the somewhat odd period between two full moons of 29.5305881 days (= synodic moon).
A mechanical watch movement employed to drive a moon phase indication normally delivers rotations of 12/24 hours or 60 minutes only, and it is practically impossible to achieve a rotation of 29.5305881 days from that base, by means of teethed wheels: A wheel bearing the 295,306 teeth necessary for that would have a huge diameter that certainly does not fit into a wristwatch. This is the reason why conventional moon phase displays currently used in wristwatches greatly simplify the issue, resulting in the need of manually correcting them for a day after only three years.
By splitting the rotation across two discs that are combined into one display, Ulysse Nardin was able to achieve a very high degree of accuracy. Thus the Moonstruck needs more than 100,000 years, before its moon cut out shows a full moon when in fact it should show a new moon (or vice versa).
By combining the moon window with the position of the Sun, shown by the Sun disc, it is easily possible to read the moon phase in a more dynamic view: both the sun symbol and the moon window, are rotating clockwise, which is as these celestial bodies are seen from the Earth’s northern hemisphere. The moon window is slightly slower than the sun symbol: as a consequence, the former seems to move counter-clockwise in relation to the Sun.When Sun and Moon are aligned on the same side of the Earth, this shows New Moon: the Moon is between Sun and Earth, so from the Earth, only the shaded side is seen. Sun and Moon aligned on opposite sides of the Earth show the constellation of Full Moon: from Earth, the Moon is visible fully illuminated by the Sun.Between these two states, the sun symbol and moon window display the first, respectively third quarters.
4. Global depiction of tides.
The most apparent influence of the Moon on Earth is the tidal fluctuation of the oceans. Attracted by the Moon’s gravity, the surface of the oceans rise toward the Moon, following it on its path around the Earth. Although tidal displays on watches are not new, the Moonstruck is the first timepiece to enable the wearer to observe the tides’ global variations, resulting from the gravitational influences not only of the Moon but of the Sun as well. The addition of a tidal indication to Ludwig Oechslin’s astronomically accurate moon phase display, allows for a rough determination of a tide and its trend on a given location on the ocean, or a coastline. Through the rotating depictions of Moon and Sun, it is possible to study the cumulative and subtractive effects of their gravitational forces which result in spring and neap tides.
Reading the tides display of the Moonstruck is relatively straightforward: Both the sun and the moon discs show dark blue sectors, symbolising the gravitational forces of these two celestial bodies, as well as the centrifugal force of the Earth rotation. The dark sectors printed around the sun and moon display their gravitations, pulling the Earth’s oceans towards them. The smaller sectors on the opposite side indicate the ocean waters that rise as an effect of the Earth’s centrifugal force.
The Sun and Moon are each causing their tidal mountains to follow them on the Earth’s oceans, with smaller mountains on the exact opposite side. However, when both gravitation sources are in straight alignment on either the same or opposite sides of the Earth their tidal effects add to “spring tides”. When Moon and Sun are offset at a roughly 90 degree angle, as seen from the Earth their tidal effects compensate each other to a certain degree, resulting in “neap tides” on the oceans.
5. Quick hour setting for travels.
The Moonstruck also offers “use of ease” functions, including the ability to set forward or backward the main hour hand in hourly increments by operating the two pushers on the left side of the watch. Thus it can be used as a practical travel watch, quickly adapting the time display to a different time zone. This function facilitates the biannual correction made necessary by the introduction of daylight saving time. With the hour and minute hands coated with luminous material, the owner will be able to easily read the time even in absolute darkness.
A third hand points towards the bezel where date figures (1 to 31) are engraved. This hand can be quickly set forward and backward (no corrections between 10.00 pm and 02.00 am).
Ludwig Oechslin, Genius behind the Moonstruck
Born in 1952 in Italy, Ludwig Oechslin visited schools in the German-speaking part of Switzerland before he started his academic career in 1972. Then he began his classical studies (a combination of archaeology, ancient history, Greek and Latin) as well as history, history of arts and philosophy at the University of Basel, where he graduated in 1976.
Growing dissatisfaction with the ivory-tower-theory taught at the university urged him to seek out a profession in which he could make use of his hands both practically and creatively. It became clear to him that through becoming a watchmaker he could have the best of both worlds. At the age of 24, it was not easy to find a master willing to accept him for apprenticeship. Finally Jörg Spöring, a well-known watchmaker and restorer of antique clocks, took Ludwig Oechslin under his wing.
After a short time, Oechslin had his first intense contact with an old astronomic clock. He was sent to the Vatican to repair and restore the Farnesian Clock, an astronomical clock more than 250 years old and of unequalled complexity. Repair of the timepiece, remanufacture of a large share of the parts and thorough study of the clock’s functions kept him busy for years. The results intrigued him, and he wanted to know more about the people who created such clocks, their thoughts, and the scientific implications behind them. Upon his return from Rome, he started additional studies in the disciplines astronomy, philosophy, and history of science (theoretical physics) at the University of Bern, graduating as a Doctor in 1983.
In the next twelve years, Oechslin became an internationally recognized expert on astronomical timepieces dating from the 16th to the 18th century and travelled throughout Europe restoring and studying old clocks. Simultaneously continuing his training as a watchmaker he received his diploma in 1984 and finally became a master watchmaker in 1993. His practical training as a watchmaker and his academic career went hand in hand.
Ludwig Oechslin’s scientific excellence, and his fame as one of world’s most innovative watchmakers, were honored in 2001, when the city council of La Chaux-de-Fonds offered him the position as curator-director of the International Watch Museum, the most complete and renown horological collection in the world. While still being an apprentice formally, but technically a master already, Ludwig Oechslin was “discovered” by Rolf Schnyder, owner of Ulysse Nardin. Schnyder was in search of a magnificent idea that could become a milestone piece and distinctive symbol for the competence of Ulysse Nardin. He noticed an extraordinary wall clock featuring an astronomical dial, a so-called astrolabe. When Mr. Schnyder finally met the creator of that timepiece, Ludwig Oechslin, he immediately asked him if it would be possible to build an astrolabe as small as a wristwatch. “Who would be interested in buying it?” was Oechslin’s laconic response.
Thus was born a steady friendship between the two, as well as an extraordinary collaboration. The Moonstruck represents the most recent offering to result from this partnership. Between 1983 and 1992, Ludwig Oechslin created a series of three astronomic wristwatches, the now world-famous “Trilogy of Time”, consisting of the Astrolabium, Planetarium and Tellurium. Two of these mechanical marvels were featured in the Guinness Book of Records, and there is no current book on the history of watchmaking in the 20th century that does not mention or depict at least one of the three pieces. For Ulysse Nardin, the Trilogy became emblematic, placing the company firmly into that exclusive pantheon of brands which create the most complex timepieces in the world.
Upon completion of the astronomic Trilogy, Ludwig Oechslin directed his attention to other, more “earthly” projects. He designed the first simple-to-use and reliable mechanism for adjusting a watch to different time zones, even backwards over the date line. He also created the first mechanical perpetual calendar, which can be adjusted forward as well as backward simply by means of a single crown, and in 1999 even combined it with an additional GMT-mechanism.
Only a few years later, in 2001, Ulysse Nardin stunned the horological world with Ludwig’s idea of a ‘‘simple’’ watch: The astonishing Freak, a seven-days-caroussel tourbillon, in which the barrel case and the two movement bridges themselves serve as ‘hands’ to display the time. The Freak was the first mechanical timepiece to utilize escapement wheels made from silicium, resulting in reduction of friction and mass and an increase in long-time stability. The escapement of the Freak requires no oiling.
In 2003 Ulysse Nardin brought forth another example of the genius of Ludwig Oechslin with the introduction of the Sonata, the world’s first mechanical 24-hour alarm watch with countdown which enables its wearer to set the alarm over 24 hours in advance, and see the remaining time until the alarm goes off on a unique count-down display. The integrated GMT mechanism automatically takes into account changes of the current time zone.
In 2009, Ludwig entered the cosmos of celestial bodies once again with the Moonstruck. However, where the Tellurium concentrated on Sun and Earth and the latter’s illumination, the Moonstruck is adding the Moon and demonstrates its effects on the Earth, enabling its proud wearer to get an entirely new understanding of our home planet.