Watchmaker Ulysse Nardin founded his eponymous company in 1846 in Le Locle, Switzerland. Nardin first set out to marine chronometers for military and merchant ships. The company became so well-known and so lauded by captains, Ulysse Nardin became the primary chronometer maker for sea vessels around the world.

So, how does a company known for making timepieces for the seafaring get into making smartphones? The Chairman phone is really an extension of the path the brand embarked on when it was purchased in 1983 by Rolf Schnyder. Schyder refashioned the brand into a watchmaker that manufactured beautiful complication timepieces-or, watches that do more than tell the time and date.

When Ulysse Nardin partnered with Scientific Cellular in 2009, it set out to do the same with smartphones. It sought to make a luxury smartphone as complicated and rarefied as its legendary timepieces. Unsure if people wanted such a device,the company anticipated 200 to 300 pre-orders upon its launch in 2012. It receieved over 8,000.