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  • Writer's pictureMarc Jenni

Pimp my Ulysse Nardin

Updated: Feb 9

Location: Zurich, Switzerland

Date: December 23, 1994

In 1842 Adrien Philippe, co-founder of Patek Philippe & Co., invented a mechanism for watches which allowed them to be wound and set by means of crown rather than a key. Early watch movements were set to the correct time using a push-pin, push-bolt or rocking-bar setting mechanism.

From theory to the real work, a steel lever was missing and needed to be replaced, shaped and adapted taking into consideration the actual environment of the function.

An important detail in my eyes, however, consist in reproducing as authentic as possible any missing component and to respect the initial condition of the timepiece! Always keep in mind: filing off material is easier than to add it ! Think first, act later...

For example; a ruby was broken in this vintage «Ulysse Nardin» watch movement. The jewels used in those times were set versus pressure fit (driven in) and shaped differently than today watch rubies. Since about 1923, driving in has superseded setting as a method of fitting watch jewels.

An irresponsibly approach would consist in enlarging the old bearing and pressure fit a new standard shaped ruby. The correct approach - in respect of the watchmaking tradition - is to use an old style jewel which can be set.

If no ruby is available, you may reshape one while using a diamond file and turning the ruby on a lathe.

The best work is work which cannot be seen! The value of a vintage timepieces are directly connected with its condition and watchmakers need to take care and preserve it!


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