After previewing the Chairman Smartphone from Ulysse Nardin last November, I was lucky to be one of the few to actually play with it. First introduced in 2010, the Chairman only started shipping at the start of 2012, which all pre-orders sold out. The edition held by Luxury Bazaar that I got to review was the part of the Rose Gold Collection, which features rose gold trim and black and dark blue matte detailing.
There have been a several luxury cell and smartphones released over the years, most prominently from Vertu, an English manufacturer that has been creating luxury phones since 1998 with Nokia. The Chairman Smartphone takes this luxury niche to a new level, thanks to the partnership between Ulysse Nardin and Uncells. Not only is this the world’s first hybrid-powered smartphone, it’s also holds the Guinness World Record for Most Expensive Mobile Phone Series ($14,000 for the base model up to $130,000 for the Diamond Edition).
GALLERY 1 – Click on the first image and use the arrows or use your arrow keys on your keyboard to view:
So let me run you through the features before my review. First here are the tech specs. It uses a 3.2 inch capacitive touch screen, classic numeric keys with a full on-screen keyboard. It uses full 2G/3G with Qualcomm 3G GSM/WCDMA for global call and data usage. It holds hefty 32GB of internal storage, with a nice 8-megapixel camera with flash and video recording capability. Now the tech spec unique to only this smartphone is the use of two internal batteries, with one powered by a rotor. Just like an automatic movement powers a luxury watch, this rotor charges the second battery. So like with a automatic watch, this phone is charged both by winding the crown or simply the movement of the phone in your pocket, jacket or bag. And just like the clear caseback on a watch, the beautifully build rotor is visible from the back. The main battery is charged via usb, making this the world’s only hybrid-powered smartphone. Talk time is rated at 7 talk hours and 30 standby hours, which are extended thanks to the rotor. For extra security, there is a thumbprint reader located center just below the screen, which can also be swiped back and forth for on-screen navigation.
The Chairman currently runs on the old Android 2.2 Froyo OS, but updates are planned. Like with any Android device, it includes a range of basic apps and Google apps, along with access to the Google Play app market. The OS comes customized by Ulysse Nardin, with themes and sounds. A selection of visual themes are offered, with backgrounds drawn from the dials of Ulysse Nardin watches and screen clocks modeled after their watches as well.
Like the watches from the same name, the build quality is fantastic. This model features 18-karat rose gold detailing on the trim and keys, with 22-karat rose gold used for the rotor. For other parts, only the finest materials found are used, which you’ll also find in Ulysse Nardin watches. This includes hand-finished anodized aerospace-grade aluminum, marine-grade stainless steel and rhodium-plated parts. The back is sealed with high-grade rubber, which adds to durability and grip. The top portion around the rotor is ultra-hard ceramic (with the steel editions using carbon fiber). Another inclusion from luxury watches is the use of sapphire crystal, found covered the screen and rotor. It’s even used for the numeric keys, which is raised above the phone, letting the rose gold inlays beneath glimmer. In total, there are over 300 hand-crafted parts which are hand-assembled to create each Chairman.
Docking Station and Accessories
This phone isn’t complete without its beautiful docking station. Made of 260 handcrafted and finished parts, it’s built with lacquered wood and lined with supple Alcantara leather. It’s seen here in it’s natural shade, but is comes blackened for the steel editions. When opened, it elegantly raises the phone up in it’s cradle. From there, it charges the phone and routes the phone through the speakers and microphone for hands-free talking and listening to music. Sound quality is clear and crisp, perfect for an office but won’t power your party. The drawer store the charger and additional accessories, with a range of plug converters for the international traveller. A nice touch was a little gold plated USB 32GB memory stick. From the docking station, you can backup your phone to the memory stick, without the need for a computer. It’s also bluetooth capable, so you can use the phone in your hand while simultaneously using the speakers and microphone. A plush brown leather carrying case is included. The phone fits snugly and safely inside with Alacantara leather padding and seals shut with gold plated buttons. A porthole is also cut in the back, to show case the rotor.
GALLERY 2 – Click on the first image and use the arrows or use your arrow keys on your keyboard to view:
What Ulysse Nardin wanted to create was a capable smartphone with the aesthetics of a luxury timepiece, which they fully achieved. And while running on an old Android OS which most Android users will scoff at, it’s miles beyond the Nokia OS found on Vertu luxury smartphones and is fully upgradable. And while it may not run some newer or more advanced apps currently out, it runs nice and smooth for all the necessities, such as web browsing, any Google app and HD video playback. And honestly, this is going to be any owner’s second phone (Unless a Lamborghini is your daily driver). I use a Galaxy S2 and work online, so I’m pretty deep into my apps. With the range of basic and downloaded apps, I was pleased with the Chairman. This included Swiftkey, my favorite touchscreen typing app. Unfortunately I shipped back before copying photos I took with it, but on the high-res screen they looked great.With 8-megapixels and a flash (same with my Galaxy S2, the S3 and new iPhone) it performs up to the top current smartphones.
I asked some work associates for their opinion of it and mentioned the cost ( tech industry people, not luxury industry people), they expected a indestructible, ultra-advanced spec smartphone and they can’t believe the use of a physical keypad. But Ulysse Nardin is delivering to the luxury market, so they’ve created the most luxurious smartphone. While you’ll be using the touchscreen mainly of course, the physical keypad showcases more aesthetic appeal than true function and gives it almost a vintage look in the world of tech. To compare, you could buy a new Nissan GTR for much less but equal performance to a Ferrari. Instead of buying a piece of art, you could just have a image of it displaying on a big LCD screen. Like these comparisons, the Chairman isn’t just a smartphone, like a Ferrari isn’t just a supercar and a luxury watch isn’t just about telling time. These examples are all beautiful symbols of the appreciation of aesthetics, fine craftsmanship and heritage of the brand.
In the hand, it feels like quality, fitted, weighted, solid and strong. Holding my Galaxy S2 in one and the Chairman in the other give two completely different experiences. It reminds me of the different feelings you hand gets between closing the door of a new Toyota to that of a a new Mercedes. The finish immediately reminds of a Ulysse Nardin timepiece, with the same styling heritage and materials used. While it looks great in photos, they just can’t convey the feel in hand of the cut sapphire keys as you press them to the ceramic and hard rubber back resting in your palm.
Many can’t justify the cost of owning and enjoying a luxury watch, a luxury car, a piece of fine art. And this luxury phone isn’t for them either. This is the phone to match your luxury watch, luxury car or piece of art. It’s the ultimate luxury gadget and the perfect accessory for anyone that collects Ulysse Nardin. Only 1846 editions of each collection have been made, to signify the year the company was founded. If you’d like to be a rare owner of one and purchase this stunning Rose Gold Chairman and docking station I’ve reviewed here, we invite you to visit our eBay listing! Please note we have blurred out the serial number showing on the back. This is to protect the images from being used without permission or for fraudulent purposes. And please email us at Sales@LuxuryBazaar.com if you have any questions.
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GALLERY 3 – Click on the first image and use the arrows or use your arrow keys on your keyboard to view: