Ulysse Nardin Chairman Smart Phone Hands On
Ulysse Nardin surprised the haute horology world a few months ago with the announcement of a luxury smart phone. I originally discussed the Ulysse Nardin Chairman here, but recently got to sit down and personally experience three of the Chairman models my self. I also got to learn a lot more about what makes the Ulysse Nardin Chairman a real luxury of a mobile phone. I got to see the blue and satin steel, the black-toned model (very sexy!), and the blue steel and rose gold (very Ulysse Nardin!). The phone is large and pleasantly hefty - I would describe it more as comfortable and solid feeling rather than intimidating.
The back piece of the watch is made of a carbon fiber plate and a black ceramic plate (mobile phone antenna radio signals do not travel through metal well). The keypad features large comfortable keys and excellent backlighting - and the screen is one large sapphire crystal. Ulysse Nardin finally confirmed that the phone's operating system will be unique to the phone rather than just a skinned version of an existing mobile phone operating system.
Gallery: Ulysse Nardin Chairman Phone Live
Ulysse Nardin fans have been curious about the automatic watch rotor visible through the rear of the watch. The rotor actually powers a second battery that also powers the watch. I discovered that this is no mere novelty, and the power generated will (of course depending on the movement of the phone), generate an amount of power that will in fact provide energy in more than a token manner. The best part though is that the crown on the right side of the Chairman can be used to manually charge the phone just like the crown on a watch is used to wind it! I was very excited to learn this, and the meaning is significant. If the phone dies (though the standby time is tremendous) you can manually charge the phone via the crown and make a phone call or two until you need to wind it again for a bit. This luxury addition is more than cosmetic, and something you can't find in other phones. Plus, the connector for the power adapter will be a universal mini USB plug, and not something proprietary, which is a good thing.
Aside from the hardware and design of the Ulysse Nardin Chairman, there is a significant area where the phone's status as a luxury item is solidified - this is in the area of service and support. Ulysse Nardin offers a special program that costs 10% of what the phone's original price was, each year. Members of the program send their Chairman phones in twice of year (of course they get a loaner) where the service center will not only polish and clean the phone, but they will also upgrade the phone's software and hardware if necessary. This responds to my fear that the phone would be susceptible to technological obsolescence. This way Ulysse Nardin sidesteps the issue by just upgrading the your phone when necessary as long as you are part of the program. Oh, and the service is like an insurance plan as well - lose the phone and they will replace it for you. I am convinced that with this level of support the watch is worth of being part of the Ulysse Nardin brand. The look of the phone grows on you, especially when you realize it was designed to be easy to use and reliable. The phone is unlocked accepting any SIM card, and will start at around $10,000 I believe.
Ariel Adams publishes the luxury watch review site aBlogtoRead.com