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Ulysse Nardin Diver X The Ocean Race

In partnership with The  Ulyysse Nardin Ocean Race Diver, Ulysse Nardin introduces the Diver: The Ocean Race, a new watch primarily composed of recycled fishing nets. The timepiece follows the brand’s efforts regarding sustainable creation. Yet, it goes a step further because of its extensive and innovative material utilization. The focus is no longer confined to reused fishing nets, like their 2020 concept, but extends to various sustainable materials, such as Nylo, Carbonium and 85% recycled steel.
The new Diver: The  Ulyysse Nardin Ocean Race Diver found its origins in 2020 when Ulysse Nardin presented the Diver Net. This concept watch represented the brand’s first attempt to be the most sustainable watch in production. Ulysse Nardin created that timepiece to experiment with different types of innovative, sustainable materials. Its case was made out of Nylo (a substance made out of upcycled fishing nets; we will discuss it below), while the strap was made of PET, which is used to make most of the plastic bottles on the planet. Also, notably, the watch’s glass was made of Swiss-made transparent ceramic. However, the Diver Net remained as a concept and was not commercially available. Today, the launch of the 200-piece limited-edition Diver: The Ocean Race rewrites that story.
The striking new watch showcases a modern and cool aesthetic with black and green shades while visibly employing the new eco-friendly materials. Unlike the 2020 Diver Net concept, whose case was all Nylo, the new Diver’s 44mm case uses Nylo (60%) and Carbonium (40%). Other steel components, like the caseback, are made of waste materials from the automotive industry. Overall, this Austrian-sourced steel (by Voestalpine Böhler) is at least 80% recycled.
The Diver’s unidirectional bezel, with its specific decoration with white organic veins, is made of Carbonium (supplied by Lavoisier Composites). It is generated from the waste materials of aircraft parts, but with a much smaller environmental impact compared to other carbon composites. In 2019, Ulysse Nardin was the first brand to use this solid yet light organic-looking material.

Ulysse Nardin made a discernible effort to add the most meticulous finishings to the 300-meter water-resistant watch. As a nod to nature, the green touches stand out on the case, dial and strap. The cool-looking face of the watch features a gray-and-green, half-matte, half-satin “double X” signature, a power reserve gauge at 12 o’clock, and the small running seconds at six, with the bold hour and minute hands dressed up in bright white. On the case, the colors are featured on the crown, crown protectors, and the individual plate on the left side.
The Diver: The Ocean Race has an all-new strap, though. Instead of the PET band used on the 2020 concept, it is made of fishing net fibers supplied by JTTI-France.

As it has been for the last two decades, the advanced materials are also present in the movement, the well-known UN-118 with a silicon and DiamonSil (silicon coated with diamond) escapement. But that’s not all: for this watch,  Ulyysse Nardin Ocean Race Diver made sure that 95%of its components — especially metals like steel and brass — were sourced within a 30-kilometer radius in the Neuchâtel area, half of which come from established recycling channels (did you know that all of UN’s movements use 100% recycled brass?).

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Ulysse Nardin Freak X Aventurine

Over the years Ulysse Nardin continues to prove that it is the true pioneer in watchmaking, breaking down the traditional barriers of construction and design. At the 2022 Watches & Wonders presentation, the Swiss luxury watchmaker, often known for disrupting the timepiece industry with its nautical-inspired pieces, has taken to new heights. It appears that this time around, the newly released watches have taken inspiration from the abysses to the cosmos.

Ulysse Nardin has unveiled the Ulysse Nardin Freak X Aventurine is one that comes out of a celestial vault, taking the infinite galaxy as an elegant inspiration for the glittering effect seen on the face of the watch. The brand first introduced the Freak X line in 2019 and has since expanded the lineup to continue its Vertical Odyssey. The Ulysse Nardin Freak X Aventurine is equipped with an extra-large 3 Hz silicium balance wheel. Embracing the sleek design, this 43 mm watch also features a blue PVD titanium and 5N rose gold case. Available on the watch is a blue alligator strap with light grey “points de bride” stitches. This particular wrist piece is limited to only 99 watches for $38,000 USD.

Building on its Freak collection, the Swiss watchmaker has released the Freak S, the very first automatic double oscillator with a differential. As an obvious technical extension of the Freak Vision, the new mechanical marvel features noteworthy innovation that includes an inclined double oscillator that uses DiamonSIL technology, a vertical differential and a grinder automatic winding system. Thanks to the mechanism, the two oscillators of the Freak S never oscillate at the same speed. The new case is inspired by the first Freak from 2001 and includes a combination of ceramic, titanium and gold. The case back is constructed with titanium with black DLC, six screws and a visible grinder through the open sapphire case-back. Similar to the Aventurine, the Freak S also debuts its own sparkly rendition of a starry night. The Freak S is limited to 75 pieces of which only 40 will go into production in 2022 for $137,200 USD.
The new high tech watchmaking masterpiece developed by Ulysse Nardin is taking off, driven by a powerful solar wind. Ulysse Nardin looked to the brightest stars of the cosmos for inspiration for this new interpretation of the Freak. At first glance, the brand’s pioneering new watch resembles a space vessel with twin reactors, which will find its finest expression on the wrists of those who never doubt. This creation combining all the superlatives came into being thanks to the expertise of an integrated Manufacture; Ulysse Nardin Freak S represents the expression of contemporary luxury masterfully manifested in an avant-garde watchmaking design.
If we need to look for a milestone in the history of Ulysse Nardin, it’s the year 2001 which saw the launch of the very first Freak watch, one of the most innovative models of its time. This revolutionary timepiece broke free from all the conventions of watchmaking history no hands, no dial, no crown. The memorable project was conceived by Carole Forestier Kasapi then turned into reality thanks to Ludwig Oechslin a philosopher and a genius, at the time a watchmaker for Ulysse Nardin For more than twenty years, Ulysse Nardin has constantly been seeking to push back the limits of traditional watchmaking in the Freak Collection. To wear a Freak is to carry a laboratory on your wrist that has hosted several major innovations.

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Ulysse Nardin Blast Moonstruck

Well, it’s all happening at Ulysse Nardin Blast Moonstruck . Just last week it was announced that its parent company Sowind Group SA had been bought from Kering by Sowind’s board of directors, including UN CEO Patrick Pruniaux. Now, the Le Locle-based brand has launched its first exciting release of 2022: The dark, the dashing, and ultra-complicated Blast Moonstruck.
The Blast Moonstruck carries on Ulysse Nardin’s tradition of mind-blowing Ludwig Oeschlin-designed astronomical watches that started with the Astrolabium Galileo Galilei, Planetarium Copernicus, and Tellurium Johannes Kepler in the 1980s and ‘90s.

Oeschlin continued to work his magic in 2009 when the first Moonstruck was unveiled, followed up in 2017 by the launch of the Executive Moonstruck Worldtimer.
In essence, the new Ulysse Nardin Blast Moonstruck is a cleaner, sleeker, more contemporary interpretation of the Executive Moonstruck Worldtimer. It packs the same complex astronomical instrumentation of the latter, with indications for local time, world time, date, moonphase, days of the lunar month, the position of the sun and moon relative to the Earth, and tidal cycles.
But now, the Ulysse Nardin Blast Moonstruck is packaged in the bold, stealth jet-inspired style that has come to define the brand’s Blast collection. That means a black, gold, and aventurine dial framed by a 45mm black ceramic and black DLC titanium case that features geometrically shaped lugs and a crenulated crown. Finally, the case and dial are paired with a black strap made from alligator leather, rubber, or velvet.
The time – indicated via tapering, gilded, lume-filled hands – can be quickly set forward or backward (using the pushers on the caseband) to any of the 24 time zones represented by world cities emblazoned on the dial’s flange. Additionally, to supplement the 24-hour numerals just inside the flange, the Earth, as seen from above the North Pole, is micro-engraved on the inside of a domed portion of the sapphire crystal. That, in turn, is encircled by the date ring.
Meanwhile, the precision moonphase is indicated through a circular aperture, while the sun is represented using a three-dimensional bronzite disk. Not only does Blast Moonstruck depict the real-time position of these two entities in relation to the Earth – from which you can read the state of the tides – but the moon will appear brighter or dimmer in keeping with the lunar calendar. Powering all these sophisticated indications is the UN-106 automatic caliber, packing a 50-hour power reserve and a 22K gold winding rotor, visible through the transparent display caseback.

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Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronograph 43mm review

One of my first encounters with Ulysse Nardin was in 1999, when Gerard showed me his Ulysse Nardin GMT ± Perpetual watch. He wrote about it recently in detail, on Christmas day (find it here). At the time, Gerard’s watch shop in The Hague was official retailer for Ulysse Nardin, so once in a while when I visited his store (more often than he probably liked) I had the opportunity to have a closer look at these watches.

At some point, when he didn’t carry Ulysse Nardin anymore in his shop, I didn’t come across them much. Until I started to write about watches on this website. Somehow I lost interest in the brand, especially when the brand from Le Locle came up with things like this Chairman phone. That’s right, a phone.

However, since a few years it seems that Ulysse Nardin re-invented themselves and has a strong focus on their watches again. Last year they were at SIHH for the first time and I have to say I was impressed by their collection of watches. Their tourbillon, priced at CHF 28,000.-, is a good example. However, today I have a closer look at one of their more affordable pieces and a more useful complication as well, the Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronograph.
.One of the Ulysse Nardin watches that spoke most to me during the SIHH in 2017, was this Marine Chronograph. I have a weak spot for chronographs and the annual calendar is an awesome bonus. Just like the perpetual calendar of the Ulysse Nardin GMT ± I mentioned above, this model also has a backward/forward adjustment of the months. This feature is awesome, as you don’t have to worry anymore that you mess up the calendar setting. In the worst case, with other annual and perpetual calendar watches, you either have to wait until the actual date reaches the date on the watch, but if you – by accident – advanced the calendar months in advance, you need to return it to a watchmaker to have it corrected. We all know how long that can take with some manufactures, sometimes almost as long as when you just wait for the correct month yourself. Anyway, no need for this hassle with Ulysse Nardin’s annual calendar of their Marine Chronograph.

For those who don’t know, an annual calendar only needs a correction on March 1st while a perpetual calendar also will have that done automatically as it is mechanically programmed for a couple of centuries. You don’t need to worry about the other months, whether they have 30 or 31 days. It is all sorted out. A great complication for those who fancy a date on their watch. Besides that, the Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronograph also has a month indicator in the sub dial at 9 o’clock.
The chronograph and annual calendar are functions of the Ulysse Nardin UN-153 movement. This in-house developed movement uses the invention by Ludwig Oechselin (a portrait on this genius watchmaker can be found here), that enables the owner to advance and reverse the annual calendar. I talked about that above. Interesting enough, the Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronograph reference 1533-150-3/40 has three sub registers, while this version (reference 1533-150/E0) only has two, using the same movement. They dropped the hour recorder at 6 o’clock and to be honest, the watch looks a lot cleaner this way.
The chronograph uses a column-wheel and the annual calendar is basically a module. The caliber UN-153 movement ticks at 28800vph (4 hz) and has 53 jewels. A high number of jewels, like this, often refers to the use of an extra module (for the annual calendar, in this case). A sapphire case back enables you to enjoy this caliber to the fullest. The blue and marine themes comes back on the rotor, with the anchors and anchor UN logo (in enamel) on the weight mass. A nicely finished movement, using perlage and striping techniques and quite a number of blue screws is a feast for the eyes.
The dial (resembling the marine chronometers that were used on ships) of the Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronograph really stands out in my opinion. The off-white dial and the blue Roman numerals. minute track and printing gives a beautiful contrast. Printed between the ‘V’ and ‘VI’ you will find the wording ‘Grand Feu’, indicating that this technique was used to manufacture the enamel dial. This is being done at Donzé Cadrans S.A. a company that belongs to Ulysse Nardin since 2011.
On the dial you will find 6 hands, indicating time, elapsed time and for the month. On the 6 o’clock position there’s a round date aperture, using a small lens to magnify the date disc. Although the dial has a lot of information and ‘tracks’, it is not that cluttered in my opinion. You will find two elements carrying the red color as well. There’s the indication (in red) of the company’s founding year, 1846, and the small triangular shaped hand as month indicator. It brings the dial somewhat more to life even though these are just very tiny elements. The use of blue can also be found on the crown and pushers as well as the alligator strap.
The Marine collection from Ulysse Nardin is not uniform when it comes to case design. Sure you will find the ribbed bezel on these models, but not all models have the typical lugs that this Marine Chronograph has. Somehow they remind me a bit of the lugs of the IWC Da Vinci of the 1980’s, but more masculine looking. It is more like a one solid big lug instead of two lugs. The case shape in general is quite impressive. So is the size, of 43mm. Both polished and brushed surfaces on the case make it a very interesting watch to observe. Last but not least, the ribbed bezel and blue pushers and crown give the watch a somewhat sporty (or marine) appearance. The Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronograph reference 1533-150/E0 is uniquely numbered with a special small engraved plate attached to the case band. The case back is screwed on the case with six small screws. Also, the alligator strap is attached to the case with large screws.
Although a CHF28,000 Marine Tourbillon is quite sharply priced for this complication, a Ulysse Nardin watch does not come cheap. Nor should it. The level of finish is very nice and the number of details make the Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronometer a watch that will not bore you anytime soon. The in-house chronograph movement, including the annual calendar with backward/forward setting, is a pretty piece of technology and the off-white Grand Feu dial makes it a complete package of impressiveness. The retail price of this Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronograph is CHF14,800.-.

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Ulysse Nardin Marine Tourbillon 43mm

When it was originally conceived, the Ulysse Nardin Marine Tourbillon 43mm was a technical solution to a specific problem — the impact of gravity on the accuracy of a pocket watch’s movement. These days the whirling cage of finely finished metal represents something else. For brands, it’s a bravura statement of prowess. For watch lovers, it’s typically the crowning piece in a collection, the finest point in fine watchmaking.
If we’re honest, the appeal of the tourbillon is only partially due to an appreciation of the watchmaker’s art. There’s also an element of conspicuous consumption to wearing a tourbillon. Dress it up however you like — wearing a watch with a dial-facing tourbillon is a pretty powerful statement. Dig a little deeper into the complication and you’ll discover that not all tourbillons are created equal. TAG Heuer’s vaunted $20k Heuer-02T is CNC printed, and many other brands rely on outsourced, third-party movements.
Ulysse Nardin Marine Tourbillon 43mm avoids these pitfalls and manages to offer one of the most compelling value propositions of 2017. Before we get to the movement, let’s talk about the watch as a whole. The 43mm steel case has modern touches, like the angular, integrated lugs, squared-off crown guard and rubber inset crown. These elements balance out the very traditional aspects, like the deck watch style dial with large printed Roman numerals and railroad chapter ring. The tourbillon is neatly balanced by the power reserve indicator, and the whole ensemble looks stunning thanks to the Grand Feu dial, printed at UN’s own Donzé Cadrans enamel facility. I really love the dial on this watch. It adds a real old world elegance to the watch.
The movement, however, is far from old-fashioned. The calibre UN-128 is completely new and made entirely by Ulysse Nardin Marine Tourbillon 43mm, right down to the springs. The flying tourbillon uses a silicium escapement and spring. It beats at 4Hz and has a respectable 60 hours of power reserve. The tourbillon is beautifully finished, with hand-finishing aplenty. And while the caseback is less spectacular than the front, the same level of care is evident.
Beyond all this, the really outstanding feature of the Marine Tourbillon is the price. Coming in at a shade above $40k, I can’t think of any comparable products that offer quite the same combination of versatile design, high complication, refined dial and impressive in-house tech. It’s a bold move for Ulysse Nardin, and, I suspect, a winning one.

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Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur 42mm

The new Chronometry Collection from Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur 42mm looks back to the brand’s history as it turns 175, and a lot of that history is bound up in ship’s chronometers. But UN has also grown and evolved in more recent years. The company was a real pioneer in the use of silicon, and its UN-118 movement, with silicon hairspring and escape wheel and anchor in Diamonsil, are testament to this more recent past. In 2011, Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur 42mm bought dialmaker Donzé Cadrans, bringing old-fashioned in-house enamel dial-making into its quiver, and making fine blue enamel dials like the one in this 175-piece limited edition possible.

What we have in this watch is a look that will be plenty familiar to those who know Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur 42mm. Modeled after ships’ chronometers, the display is large and legible, with the hours and minutes emanating from the central axis and the seconds occupying a large sub-dial at six o’clock with a window for the date toward the bottom. The indicator for displaying the power reserve (60 hours) is up at the 12 o’clock position to balance it out and provide a symmetrical look. It’s a classic, 42mm watch that bridges a sport and dressy look with plenty of maritime vibes, as we’ve come to expect from UN.
Donzé makes enamel dials of extremely high quality the old-fashioned way, in old-school ovens, and has done so for several of the biggest names in watchmaking. The blue dial in this watch may not be an intricate cloisonné example depicting a design or a scene, but it has a depth to it that looks really wonderful in the supplied pictures from the brand. Combining such dials with a movement that is composed of silicon parts seems to me to be a very Ulysse Nardin way to go about watchmaking.

While I expect that having the date window probably made the process of producing these dials more difficult and contributed to a higher failure rate, I think this is one design that would be better off sans date window. The dial itself is fairly ornate to begin with. Enamel dials kind of have to be seen in person to be appreciated, and Donzé is known for making some really nice ones.

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Ulysse Nardin Torpilleur Annual Chronograph 44mm

With its rich ties to the sea, Ulysse Nardin Torpilleur Annual Chronograph 44mm dedicates a portion of its collection to luxury timepieces with nautical and marine inspiration. As part of the marine collection, Ulysse Nardin is proud to announce the release of the new Torpilleur Annual Chronograph. The Ulysse Nardin Torpilleur Annual Chronograph 44mm features a formal design based around the 44mm stainless-steel case. The elegant dark blue dial contrasts with bronze indicators incorporated into the sub-dials, which provide month and 30-second functions. Paying homage to the historic horology, Ulysse Nardin proudly displays its 1846 start on the dial above the 6 o’clock position. Driving power to the new marine-inspired timepiece by Ulysse Nardin features an in-house UN-153 self-winding movement, which provides an impressive 50-hour power reserve and 50-meter water resistance. The Torpilleur Annual Chronograph is equipped with a choice of a blue or brown genuine leather strap and stainless steel buckle. The new Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Annual Chronograph is limited to only 300 pieces and is now available through an authorized retailer for $12,100. Shop the new Ulysse Nardin, as well as all its luxury timepiece collections by clicking the link below.
With its rich ties to the sea, Ulysse Nardin dedicates a portion of its collection to luxury timepieces with nautical and marine inspiration. As part of the marine collection, Ulysse Nardin is proud to announce the release of the new Ulysse Nardin Torpilleur Annual Chronograph 44mm. The Torpilleur Annual Chronograph features a formal design based around the 44mm stainless-steel case. The elegant dark blue dial contrasts with bronze indicators incorporated into the sub-dials, which provide month and 30-second functions. Paying homage to the historic horology, Ulysse Nardin proudly displays its 1846 start on the dial above the 6 o’clock position. Driving power to the new marine-inspired timepiece by Ulysse Nardin features an in-house UN-153 self-winding movement, which provides an impressive 50-hour power reserve and 50-meter water resistance. The Torpilleur Annual Chronograph is equipped with a choice of a blue or brown genuine leather strap and stainless steel buckle. The new Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Annual Chronograph is limited to only 300 pieces and is now available through an authorized retailer for $12,100. Shop the new Ulysse Nardin, as well as all its luxury timepiece collections by clicking the link below.

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Ulysse Nardin Torpilleur Moonphase 42mm

Ulysse Nardin has a long and storied history when it comes to nautical navigation and marine chronometry. For decades, if not centuries, marine navigation relied on the position of celestial bodies. The introduction of precision instruments such as marine chronometers revolutionized navigation at sea. Founded in 1846, meaning the brand celebrates 175 years of watchmaking this year, Ulysse Nardin quickly gained fame for producing precise marine deck chronometers. In what is a celebratory year, UN honours its past with seven new Marine Torpilleur models, one of which we’ll be taking a closer look at today, the Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Moonphase 42mm.
The Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Moonphase collection, introduced as a sub-collection in Ulysse Nardin’s emblematic Marine range, was launched in 2017. While inspiration still clearly stems from the early days of marine chronometers, the updated style of the Marine Torpilleur made it a simpler, lighter version around the classic nautical theme. As Rebecca already explained in the introductory article of the entire 2021 collection earlier this week, the name comes from small and manoeuvrable torpedo boats introduced in the 19th century.
The new Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Moonphase is a first within the portfolio, as there have been moon phase watches before, but not in this collection. It is a perfectly fitting complication, considering the Moon played a significant part in astral navigation in the early days and is responsible for ocean tides.
The recipe for the Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Moonphase is still very much what you would expect from Ulysse Nardin. A large dial with elongated Roman numerals, double-register layout (12 and 6 o’clock), and classical spade and whip hands. Two versions are introduced: a blue PVD dial with a sunray brushed finish and, like the model in our photographs, a second version with a white varnished dial. The markings are white or black, depending on the dial colour, and the hands are rhodium-plated or blued steel. As said, new to the Marine Torpilleur is the moon phase indication. Integrated into the slightly recessed small seconds sub-dial at 6 o’clock, it features a deep-blue PVD disc with stars and a textured moon. And not only does the complication feel appropriate, but it also looks great within this signature Marine design.
For both models, the stainless case is 42mm wide and 11.13mm thick and features the classic fluted bezel. The movement inside is the UN-119 manufacture movement, which uses a silicon hairspring and a Diamonsil escapement and anchor. Running at a frequency of 28,800 vibrations/hour (or 4Hz), it delivers 60 hours of power reserve when fully wound. The sapphire crystal caseback reveals the winding rotor, decorated with two UN anchors, and elegant decoration with circular Geneva stripes and bevelled edges. And, of course, the movement is a certified COSC chronometer.
Four references of the Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Moonphase are launched as both the blue and white dials are available on either a blue or brown alligator leather strap.

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Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Panda 42mm

The Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur collection is one of Ulysse Nardin’s most popular. It uses the deck clocks and on-board ships’ chronometers that Ulysse Nardin was world-renowned for producing through the 20th century as inspiration, with an easily identifiable vertical sub-dial orientation consisting of a power reserve display at 12 o’clock on the dial and a small seconds register at six o’clock. Marine chronometers were precise timekeepers that sat in gimballed boxes and were frequently used for navigation on the high seas; as mythologized in Longitude, Dava Sobel’s 1995 best-selling book. Ulysse Nardin was a prominent producer of these timepieces and even won a U.S. Navy contract in 1905 to produce marine chronometers for use by the American torpedo boat fleet.
In 1996, under the ownership of Swiss watch industry legend Rolf Schnyder, Ulysse Nardin brought its Marine Chronometer back, this time in the form of a nautical-inspired wristwatch. The Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur, launched in 2017, is a continued evolution of that ideal; in 2021, on the 175-year anniversary of Ulysse Nardin as a company, the new 42mm Marine Torpilleur “Panda” Limited Edition has been released.

While classical on the outside, the movement inside borrows some of the high-tech attributes of the company’s well-known Freak line. Inside is the manufacture UN-118 movement, which utilizes a silicon escapement and offers 65 hours of running autonomy. Limited to 300 pieces, the Marine Torpilleur comes on your choice of a blue or brown alligator leather strap.
Ulysse Nardin has spent much of the past two decades bucking industry conventions and pushing watchmaking further through the Freak collection, so it’s sometimes easy to forgot that the company has such a quintessentially good-looking line of watches in the Marine Torpilleur. The new “Panda” model, which Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur states is the first time they’ve used the design, utilizes a pair of dark-blue sub-dials and classic black Roman numerals to contrast against the varnished white dial with rhodium-finished spade-style hands.
I am, quite honestly, very surprised this is the first Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur with a panda dial. All that means, after all, is a white dial with contrasting darker sub-dials, akin to the visage of the panda bear. Although this might be the first Marine Torpilleur with such a dial orientation and design, I’m sure it won’t be the last.

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Ulysse Nardin Freak Vision 45mm

When you talk about the founding fathers of the mechanical watch renaissance, you routinely hear the names Nicolas Hayek and Jean-Claude Biver, but another that belongs right alongside them, even if he is remembered for his work with a single brand, is the late Rolf Schnyder of Ulysse Nardin. Schnyder rescued and revived Ulysse Nardin Freak Vision 45mm in the 1980s before dragging it into the modern age of contemporary mechanical watchmaking. After meeting his longtime collaborator Ludwig Oechslin, now of Ochs und Junior, Schnyder pivoted his company from being a maker of traditionalist wristwatches to a brand dedicated to championing new technologies and materials, most famously silicon. Though Schnyder is no longer alive, his spirit lives on in the company he revived. Today we’re going hands on with the heir to one of Schnyder and Oechslin’s most famous creations, the Freak.
Today, the vast majority of the watchmakers at SIHH have at least experimented with “new materials”; I dare say that you can’t really call silicon a new material in watchmaking any longer, especially if you consider its routine use in the ateliers of titans like Breguet and Patek Philippe. Facing competition from other companies that have seen the value of crafting escapements from this predictably low-friction material, Ulysse Nardin has sought to innovate further within the field of its use.
The escapement within the Freak Vision’s UN-205 movement is an interesting example of Ulysse Nardin Freak Vision 45mm doing just that. Here we see the company’s Anchor Escapement, first introduced in 2014. It’s improved upon with a super-light balance wheel that recalls the one seen in Ulysse Nardin’s Innovision 2 concept watch last year. The wheel is fitted with nickel mass elements and micro blades that stabilize the wheel’s motion through air friction. This oscillator beats at a steady 2.5 Hz. The original implementation of the Anchor Escapement from 2014 came inside a standard tourbillon mechanism; here we see it on a Freak, which turns the whole movement itself into a tourbillon.
The Anchor escapement, you may recall, dispenses with the customary pivot for the pallet fork. Instead, the fork is suspended in space between two perpendicular flat springs that are linked to one another. The escape wheel must supply enough force to impel the fork to push those springs to either side. And because the fork itself is suspended in space, there isn’t any troublesome friction to contend with. When the minimum threshold of force fails to be met, the escapement stops abruptly, rather than progressively supplying less and less power. In a normal lever escapement, this would lead to the paradoxical effect of a watch running faster and faster, with lower and lower amplitude, until it finally came to a halt.

This particular example of the Anchor Escapement offers 50 hours of power reserve, and all of it at a constant amplitude. It’s worth mentioning that the principle behind the UN Anchor escapement – the need for a minimum amount of energy to move flat springs between stable states – is shared with another famous constant force escapement at UN sister brand Girard-Perregaux.
This watch also features the Ulysse Nardin Freak Vision 45mm Grinder Automatic Winding System, which UN claims is twice as efficient as its conventional winding systems. It does this by lowering the winding system’s torque, so that the energy of slight movements can be captured and stored in the mainspring. The whole gear train is also finished in silicon, enhancing power transmission and lowering friction along the way.
The Freak Vision is a very large watch at 45mm in diameter, but as you can see in the above wrist shot, it doesn’t wear huge. The case is made from 950 platinum, and the bezel is made from titanium and blue rubber, which makes lots of sense in this case: you set this watch by turning the bezel. This watch is read like any other Freak. The hours are indicated by the rotating arrow pointing at the periphery of the dial. The minutes are the long, rotating arm of the freak mechanism. And since the escape wheel is located on that arm – and the whole escapement’s position is completely rotated over the course of an hour – it’s a kind of tourbillon.
.The Ulysse Nardin Freak Vision 45mm will sell for $95,000, no small amount of money to be sure, but also one that doesn’t seem unreasonable for a fully platinum timepiece featuring such an innovative mechanism. Additionally, the Freak is now a full-fledged family of watches within the Ulysse Nardin portfolio (instead of just a set of limited editions), so we can expect more models to debut in the near future.