Ulysse Nardin Astronomical Watches: A step above the clouds.

Jul 17, 2016,00:38 AM


The Astrolabium was the first to be launched, in 1985, while the Planetarium came in 1988 and the Tellurium, in 1992.
The first Astrolabium ( I can't remember who to credit for this photo. sorry ) :
The first Planetarium:
And the Tellurium, which as you can see, had conventional lugs:
Made of yellow gold, these watches weren't, logically, available as a set. We had to wait a bit before seeing them offered as a set, with the new cases. ( Early 2000, if I remember correctly )
Here is a picture I found of the three Astronomical watches with the new cases:

Then came the platinum versions, which were available as a set.
The Astrolabium:
The Planetarium:
And the Tellurium, which adds another sophistication to the complication, Poetry on Poetry, a enamel cloisonné dial.
Through years, the Astrolabium and the Planetarium saw their respective cases increasing in size, even if I can't tell, precisly, the size of the originals. But now, these 2 astronomical watches are 41 mm big, at the contrary of the Tellurium whose size is identical: 43 mm.
The dials of the three have been slightly re designed, which is better if you want to get the whole set.
The set, available in platinum only, is limited to 100 pieces.

I pasted here the official informations about each of these watches for you to btter understand their functions and their level of complexity:
Astrolabium Galileo Galilei:


999-70 (ø 41 mm)

Astronomical wristwatch.

Caliber UN-99. Self-winding perpetual

movement. Platinum case.

Water-resistant to 30 m.

Sapphire crystals. Leather strap.


Available with a dial (planisphere)for different latitudes.The Astrolabe was developed by

ancient astronomers to measure the altitude and direction of celestial bodies over the horizon,

calculate the seasons, the movements of the zodiac and to foretell eclipses. This highly

complex instrument indicates the position of the sun, the moon and the stars in the sky at any given

hour as seen from Earth. It also indicates sunrise and sunset, dawn and dusk, moonphases,

moonrise and moonset, eclipses of sun and moon, the month and the day of the week. 


Planetarium Copernicus: 



839-70 (ø 41 mm)

Astronomical wristwatch.

Caliber UN-83. Self-winding perpetual movement.

Quick corrector. Platinum case.

Water-resistant to 30 m.

Sapphire crystals. Leather strap.


One single movement of mechanical excellency plus a stroke of pure genius combine

Ptolemy’s geocentric universe with the Earth at its center, and Copernicus' heliocentric universe with the Sun at its center. This allows the reading of the astronomical positions of

the planets in relation to the Sun and the Earth. The moon rotates around the Earth.
A perpetual calendar indicating the months and the sign of the zodiac completes one turn in 365.24 days at the exterior.

Tellurium Johannes Kepler:




889-70 (ø 43 mm)

Astronomical wristwatch.

Caliber UN-88. Self-winding perpetual movement.
Moon phases. 24-hour indicator.

Quick corrector. Platinum case.

Water-resistant to 30 m. Sapphire crystals. Hand painted enamel Earth.
Leather strap.

A revolutionary timepiece that rotates the Earth in its true geographical shape seen from above the North Pole. A flexible spring bends from the Tropic of Cancer to the Tropic of Capricorn to reveal the part of the Earth lit by the Sun and to indicate the time and place of sunrise and sunset. The moon rotates around the Earth. The dragon hand indicates the eclipses of the sun and the moon.

The perpetual calendar completes one turn each year.

To be complete, and as if it was not enough, Ulysse Nardin released two other crazy creations.
In 2009, they gave birth to the Moonstruck, another astronomical  watch with a painted Earth on a Mother of Pearl dial, showing the moon phases, the postion of  moon and sun, the tides, and which offers a second time zone, for the dreamers and travellers, available in a limited edition of 500 pieces in Rose Gold, and 500 pieces in Platinum;

And, in the same year, Ulysse Nardin unveiled one of the most beautiful, and certainly the most complicated desk clock in the world, the Planet Earth.
With a power reserve of 30 days, this clock shows the civilian time, the sidereal time, the location of the moon and the sun, the signs of the Zodiac, the months and the stars.
It is available in a limited edition of 99 pieces.

We are, indeed, a step above the clouds, here, with such an armada of astronomical tools.
Which one do I prefer?
Any of them would constitute a dream, to say the truth.
But if I was lucky to have the opportunity to choose one, and only one, I would hesitate between two of them.
The Astrolabium, because it was the first, and because its tortured dial, in this case, works very well with the purpose of the watch.
The Tellurium, because of its extra poetic dimension, with its cloisonné enamel dial.
I find several issues to these watches.
First of all, astronomical watches work in pair with astronomical prices... And U.N is no exception, here.
Then, the effort you have to make to fully understand such a watch, and to master  all its possibilities / functions.
But as for the price, the effort is worth being made to reach the Extraordinary.
Looking forward to reading your comments and thoughts on these pieces of Dream,
This message has been edited by amanico on 2016-07-17 00:38:39

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Comments: view entire thread


+1 on the Trilogy set... Dream!

 By: cory : July 17th, 2016-00:49
I would also like to see UN explore and develop another astronomical complicated concept watch. Perhaps for 2021?

Yuss! I knew I could count on you sharing this dream with me...

 By: cory : July 17th, 2016-00:55
Fingers crossed for something truly astronomical and concept... I reckon it's the piece they are working on for the anniversary that was mentioned.

All the time! ;) LOL[nt]

 By: cory : July 17th, 2016-01:36
No message body

Great summary of the evolution of this series. Superb post

 By: Bounce781 : July 17th, 2016-02:16
Thank you for writing up the history of these pieces. I think this story is one of the most under-appreciated milestones in modern horology in general and certainly in resurgence of Ulysse Nardin under Rolf Schnyder and Dr L Oechslin. Superb summary!!! PS... 

Yes, of course: those "BIG 4" must be grouped together and acknowledged

 By: Bounce781 : July 17th, 2016-03:37
Perhaps a special 4-watch box set: "Freak; Anchor Tourbillon; GMT Perpetual and Tellurium" in one box - what do you think

Yes, Sonata is great also. I guess a "5-Watch Collectors Set" would be better.

 By: Bounce781 : July 17th, 2016-04:36
I shudder to imagine what the price would be though :-(

Excellent, Nico!

 By: DruidPadj : July 17th, 2016-07:13
I would die for that table-top clock. It is so beautiful. But any one of those pieces would be the creme de la creme of a collection. Thanks for this post.

No need to understand their functions, it is a challenging mission.

 By: amanico : July 17th, 2016-08:45
Per se, these are masterpieces, a work from a genius, like abstract art, you may not understand all, but it speaks to you... Or not. Just wonderful. A new target, my friend? Best, Nicolas

Tellurium and Moonstruck for me too!

 By: cory : July 17th, 2016-11:57
Love UN enamel dials... Beautiful brand.

Only the earlier Telluria had enamel dials ...

 By: Marcus Hanke : July 18th, 2016-01:17
... the more recent ones have a miniature painting applied by hand, similar to the various battle-scene dials released by UN. The detail is much better on the painted Earth dials, but it is not cloisonné. Depends if you prefer either detail or the manufac... 

Great review. You are right. These are such multidimensional pieces. Functional, artistic, mechanical, craftmanship all play a role.

 By: Mitch K : July 17th, 2016-12:41
Do I understand all the functions? At some point I got to about 80-90%. But memory and complexity don\'t always match. FYI I believe that UN has only one or maybe two sets left. Not sure if there is intent to produce more. Not sure how often they come up ...  

I don't really care about the origins of the movement. We know the story behind these

 By: amanico : July 17th, 2016-13:30
Watches, and that is all which counts to me. You are really lucky friend, my friend. Best, Nicolas

Hi Mitch, what a magnificent set !

 By: GLau : July 18th, 2016-04:43
Your comment of memory vs complexity is hilarious. I have neither the memory nor the ability to understand the complexity, and these are the reasons I love this set so much ! IMO, it is the ingenuity to conceive and the ability to execute them that make t... 

Thanks Nicolas, great post, I was always fascinated by these watches, ......

 By: HSTE : July 17th, 2016-13:42
.... not only being master pieces in bringing astronomy to your wrist but also being very attractive in terms of design. Cheers, HSTE

Earlier Astrolabium and Planetarium were 40mm ...

 By: Marcus Hanke : July 18th, 2016-01:20
... thanks for that great overview! Back then, astronomical wristwatches ware something absolutely singular in the industry. But today, when even Jacob % Co. releases such pieces, its uniqueness has gone amiss. While I still think that UN is the only manu... 

I sincerely hope that Kering keeps ...

 By: GLau : July 18th, 2016-04:45
UN as an independent entity as long as possible!

++1 [nt]

 By: Mitch K : July 18th, 2016-07:10

Late to the conversation

 By: erhm : July 20th, 2016-00:40
I recently have been fortunate enough to also get the set. It\'s magnificent. My singular complaint is that UN does not well support the documentation necessary for correctly setting the trio. I have had my set serviced by UN (they were not as well cared ...  

Setting the individual watches are a challenge. When I set mine I knew what the month, day and year they had been originally set for and I and set each watch via turning the crown. As the crown is small the

 By: Mitch K : July 20th, 2016-07:37
trial and tribulation was the blister the developed on my fingers. Painful but well worth it. Not sure if have set them perfectly but close enough for government work. Loving the set nonetheless. Mitch

Yes, Mitch!

 By: erhm : July 20th, 2016-18:01
I said I had the one complaint, but the small crowns (and, except for the Tellurium) there is no quickset, is incorporated in my difficulty in setting lament. I am considering a separate post (my first "in depth") on crowns and why some manufactures choos... 

To only have one...

 By: Tim Jackson : August 20th, 2016-13:33
It would have to be the Tellurium. I dearly love this piece and have handled several over the years, with each time increasing my appreciation for this seminal work from Ludwig and the UN team. Pure vision of Rolf, possibly his finest contribution to the ... 

Definitely the tellurium for me because of its...

 By: GLau : August 21st, 2016-06:02
hand painted enamel dial with 24 hour world time ! But u already knew that, right?

He he... ;) [nt]

 By: amanico : August 21st, 2016-06:45

Have been struggling over which is my favorite. Artistically I would agree with the choice of the tellurium. The center dial is beautifully executed and it is a great paring with the moonstruck. Functionally the planetarium is the best because it is the

 By: Mitch K : August 21st, 2016-11:04
easiest to understand and it is fascinating to see the relationships of the planets. The astrolabium is by far the best because it is so complicated that it is creating new neural pathways in my brain as I try to remember all its functions thus delaying o...