Ulysse Nardin Really Knows How to Name a Watch. Exhibit A: the Blast Blue & Gold

Something I don’t think we discuss often enough are watch names. For people like me who are irredeemably bad at remembering obscure reference numbers, watch names are key. Some brands struggle with this, refusing to come up with interesting or imaginative names for their watches, but tagging them only by whatever slightly unique feature they possess. Other brands let the enthusiast do the work for them. I’m thinking of Seiko here. They don’t actually make a watch called the Sumo, or the Tuna, or the Arnie, but these names and many more have become a universally recognized shorthand. And then there are brands that absolutely nail their watch names. I’d like to submit that Ulysse Nardin is at the top of the heap here. Consider a few of these bangers: Freak, Lemon Shark, Classico Manara, Blast 

A little of everything here. We’ve got Italian, we’ve got ocean vibes, we’ve got suggestions of color, and best of all, we have short and punchy. Nobody is forgetting about the Freak (especially after watching our recent breakdown of the mechanics), and Blast? I mean, come on. What could a watch named the Blast possibly look like? 


The Blast watches are defined at least in part by their unique three pronged lug arrangement, which essentially makes each and every one an integrated creation. These are large, sometimes ostentatious sports watches that come on straps, frequently feature tourbillons, and have what I think you’d generally describe as a contemporary aesthetic. There’s lots of skeletonization and alternative materials happening here, including something called Carbonium.

Basically, they’re a lot of fun. A blast, if you will. And Ulysse Nardin has just unveiled a new entry falling within the Blast umbrella, the Blast Tourbillon Blue & Gold. This watch, of course, features a tourbillon at 6:00, part of a skeletonized movement housed within a 45mm rose gold case. Caliber UN-172 also features a micro-rotor and a full 72 hours of power reserve. 

The tourbillon is cool, of course, if you’re into tourbillons, but I think the real draw of the Blast is its unique case architecture. Within the rose gold outer case you’ll notice the blue inner case in PVD coated titanium, which is what is actually holding the movement in place. It’s constructed in an X shape and open worked, allowing for light to pass through both the inner case and the movement alike. The natural shape of the X acts as a natural frame to the rotor, at 12:00, and the tourbillon, and the whole thing has a cage-like feel to it. Ulysse Nardin says that the design is inspired partly by stealth aircraft, which is an interesting choice for a brand so associated with the sea. In any case, there’s a lot of geometry to admire, and for a watch with so many skeletonized elements, it remains fairly legible, at least judging by the Ulysse Nardin provided imagery. 

Something else that’s worth noting about the Blast is its size. Apparently, nobody sent the Blast design team the memo that the Big Watch craze has essentially fully ended, but the Blast is better for it. Does anyone really want a scaled down, 39mm version of the Blast? This is the kind of watch that should be enormous. Not only does that maximize the gold you’re wearing, but a bigger diameter means that the case construction and its integration to the dial is easier to observe, and that’s ultimately what the watch is all about. Obscuring that to make it more palatable for “everyday wear” would be silly. Besides, I’m betting that with the integrated lug design, this 45mm watch wears smaller than the stated dimensions would initially lead you to believe.

Ulysse Nardin’s success with the Freak has unfortunately led to the brand being so closely associated with that one line that many of their other creations fall through the cracks. It’s a similar problem that Audemmars Piguet deals with when it comes to the Royal Oak. Not a tragedy by any means (the Freak is great) but there’s plenty of interesting stuff throughout the Ulysse Nardin catalog that simply doesn’t get the attention it deserves. In the realm of ultra-modern, tourbillon equipped statement watches, the Blast might deserve a second look.

The retail price for the Blast Tourbillon Blue & Gold is set at $67,000. Ulysse Nardin

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Zach is a native of New Hampshire, and he has been interested in watches since the age of 13, when he walked into Macy’s and bought a gaudy, quartz, two-tone Citizen chronograph with his hard earned Bar Mitzvah money. It was lost in a move years ago, but he continues to hunt for a similar piece on eBay. Zach loves a wide variety of watches, but leans toward classic designs and proportions that have stood the test of time. He is currently obsessed with Grand Seiko.