Posted on

Ulysse Nardin Diver Chronometer Titanium

Why do so many watch brands have freedivers as ambassadors? After all, the Ulysse Nardin Diver Chronometer Titanium watch came about, and was used for decades, to track elapsed bottom time while the person wearing it breathes compressed air, specifically to avoid overstaying no-decompression limits or to time deco stops. Yet for years we’ve seen many brands tout their relationships with such apnea luminaries as Carlos Coste (Oris), Herbert Nitsch (Breitling), Guillaume Néry (Ball and now Panerai), Tanya Streeter (TAG Heuer), Tudor (Morgan Bourc’his) and of course, Jacques Mayol (Omega). At first blush, it seems illogical. After all, freediving involves going deep on a single breath, in which the risk of decompression illness is negligible and elapsed time is typically less than a couple of minutes. Freedivers are also proud of their sports’ minimalism. Whereas scuba diving is all about the equipment – heavy tanks, buoyancy vests and regulators – freediving requires nothing more than a mask at its most basic, maybe a wetsuit and set of fins if you’re not quite as ascetic. I doubt most freedivers even bother to glance at the time while underwater, much less wear a watch.
The answer to my own question is likely that, since very few really use a watch anymore for scuba diving, watch companies might as well seek their underwater wrist models from the more aesthetically beautiful sport. Scuba diving is complicated, cluttered with unwieldy hoses and straps. Freediving is sleek and athletic, the human form in graceful silhouette against the blue. There is a purity of form that suits a well designed watch and the notion of stripping down to the basics – fins, a mask, a watch – has appeal to everyone from avid watersports enthusiasts to tropical holiday-makers, not to mention the confusing and arcane “rules” and training of scuba.
The latest luxury brand to sign an elite freediver as an ambassador, is Ulysse Nardin Diver Chronometer Titanium watch , with the Belgian, Fred Buyle, wearing their latest Diver Chronometer on his wrist. I was recently invited to the French Riviera to experience UN’s new trio of dive watches, meet Fred Buyle, and do some freediving in the Mediterranean.
Just last year, in Bermuda, I had a chance to dive with the previous iteration of Ulysse’s dive watch, the Marine Diver (in Artemis Racing Edition livery) and the new Diver Chronometer doesn’t stray too far from its predecessor. Still present is the trademark bezel with oversized bezel rider tabs, the power reserve and small seconds, and the rubber strap with its uniquely integrated metal link. However, it has been streamlined, simplified, and cleaned up. Gone is the wave textured dial and the skeleton hands. The concave bezel hashes are bolder, more sporty, the crystal is domed, and the rubber strap does away with a folding deployant clasp in favor of a simpler and more “dive friendly” pin buckle. It is more evolution than revolution and Ulysse was smart not to reinvent what was an already recognizable design.
There are three versions: a blue or black dial “standard” version, a “Monaco Yacht Show” limited edition (with black surface treatment, and gold bezel and crown), and the all-white “Diver Great White” limited edition. The watches are all housed in 44-millimeter titanium cases and powered by the in-house UN-118 calibre, which is visible through a sapphire caseback on all but the Great White edition, which has a solid back engraved with the watch’s namesake Carcharodon carcharias. The chronometer-certified self-winding movement boasts 60 hours of power reserve and strong anti-magnetic properties, thanks to the silicon balance.
Of the new Ulysse divers, I found the blue and black versions most appealing. Though they all share the same basic form and movement, the simpler ones work best, in my opinion. Titanium is a smart choice for dive watches, especially at 44 millimeters, which pushes the limits of size. The concave bezel and domed crystal are cues seen on vintage divers, though overall this is a refreshingly modern take on the dive watch, in a sea of “heritage,” retro competitors. I used to wonder about the purpose of the integrated metal link on the rubber band, but after wearing it for a while, I realized that it articulates the strap past the bony side of the wrist. Many thick rubber straps on luxury divers can chafe at this spot, but the Ulysse divers are supremely comfortable. That said, I can do without the additional branding engraved on it, and especially the cheesy shark and “Monaco” that are found on the limited editions. Equally off-putting to my eye was the “Great White” on the dial of the white limited edition, and its caseback engraving reminded me of the smiling shark in “Finding Nemo.”
I’ve done a bit of freediving in the past, but I’m more comfortable exploring the subaquatic world with a tank on my back. My past experiences learning the finer points of the sport from those far better than me (Carlos Coste, Morgan Bourc’his) have involved lessons on yogic relaxation, breathing technique, and body position, all with the aim of going deeper down a weighted rope, pushing personal limits. But Fred Buyle, who once was a world record holding competitive diver, takes a more Zen approach. He left the competitive side of the sport behind and focuses more on using freediving as an unintrusive way to explore underwater, interact with marine animals, most notably sharks, and as a means to silently shoot underwater photography, all without the noisy gush of scuba exhalations. It’s refreshing, since that’s the way most of us mortals will freedive as well, dipping 10 or 20 feet down to explore a coral head while snorkeling, for example, not chasing a depth tag for a world record.
In the Mediterranean Sea off of Cap d’Antibes, not far from where Jacques Cousteau first dipped his toes into the “silent world,” I traded duck dives with Buyle, descending to a bed of sea grass 25 feet down to eye schools of tiny fish through the dappled sunlight that filtered down. I wore a wetsuit to ward off the chill of the autumn sea, and to counteract the buoyancy, a weight belt with enough lead to let me sink, but not enough to make floating on the surface difficult. I wore the blue Diver Chronometer, and glanced at it underwater a few times to assess its legibility. But let’s not kid ourselves, the merits of most luxury diving watches these days is as a beautiful companion that survives where you wear it.
During a press conference on the trip, Ulysse Nardin CEO, Patrick Priniaux (a keen diver himself) asked Buyle what purpose a watch has for a freediver. Buyle said that it is the minimalism of a mechanical watch that appeals to him. He doesn’t wear a digital dive computer, and said the sweep of a seconds hand more closely mimics the passage of time while underwater. Practiced sound bite? Perhaps. But I could relate to Buyle’s sentiments, with a slightly less tangible take. We watch enthusiasts wear divers because it lets us take our passion, our hobby, anywhere, even into harsh environments like deep under the salty sea. That little capsule of human ingenuity, dry and safe despite the pressure around it, evokes a sense of calm when the sweep hand is viewed through a dive mask 30 feet underwater when the lungs start to burn from the buildup of carbon dioxide. And then there’s the small thrill of stepping off the inflatable skiff, stripping off the wetsuit, and walking right into the bar afterwards with bragging rights on your wrist.

Ulysse Nardin chose to introduce the new dive watches in the Mediterranean to coincide with the Monaco Yacht Show, an annual showcase of mega-yachts in the world’s most famous marina and the day after diving, I was walking the docks ogling multimillion dollar watercraft, whose tenders likely cost more than my house. This was an appropriate place to debut the new watches. Though the Diver Chronometer is a sportier take on UN’s underwater watch, it still feels more like a “dress diver,” better suited on a tanned arm holding a cocktail in a chair on the teak deck of a sleek yacht than strapped over a wetsuit sleeve tagging sharks.
As I strolled the show, passing 300-foot yachts with nine-figure price tags, I came upon a lowly tugboat, its aft deck strewn with rusty oil drums, a derrick and coiled lines. It felt out of place, a working boat among the idle rich, a Seiko dive watch among a marina of Ulysse Nardins. Truth be told, my tastes tend to run towards more “blue collar” divers, the Citizen Aqualands and Doxas of the world, with their no-deco bezels, depth gauges, and rippled rubber straps, but there in Monaco, I could see the appeal of something a little more refined. As the definition of the dive watch changes, there’s room for all kinds, and while the Ulysse Nardin Diver Chronometer likely won’t be strapped over my drysuit sleeve for my next Great Lakes shipwreck dive, I can respect it for expanding the reach of by far my favorite watch genre.

Posted on

Ulysse Nardin Diver X Skeleton Black

Last year, Ulysse Nardin debuted its Ulysse Nardin Diver X Skeleton, which brought the bold skeletonized design of the Blast collection to the brand’s lineup of dive watches and paired it with a lightweight and highly-durable Carbonium bezel. The original model featured a stainless steel case with a blue and orange color profile, and all 175 pieces of the limited-edition watch rapidly sold out immediately following its launch. This year, Ulysse Nardin is bringing back its popular skeletonized diver in the form of the Diver X Skeleton Black, which largely follows the same core design of the inaugural model from 2021, except for the fact that it now appears entirely in black and yellow and features a lightweight titanium case with a black Carbonium bezel.
The 44mm case of the Ulysse Nardin Diver X Skeleton Black measures 16mm thick and is crafted from sandblasted and satin-finished titanium, which is then given a jet black DLC finish. The choice of titanium for the new model promises a significantly lighter construction compared to the original Diver X Skeleton watch from 2021, which used a blue PVD-coated stainless steel case. Sitting on top of the case is a domed sapphire crystal surrounded by a concave unidirectional rotating timing bezel that is fitted with a black Carbonium insert. Originally developed for the aerospace industry and used in the production of the wings and fuselage of certain contemporary aircraft, Carbonium is an extremely lightweight and durable type of carbon-fiber composite, which has a 40% lower environmental impact than other types of carbon-based material. A large sapphire window occupies the majority of the Diver X Skeleton Black’s screw-on titanium caseback, which helps provide it with a dive-ready 200 meters of water resistance.
Just like the original Ulysse Nardin Diver X Skeleton Black watch, the “dial” of the new Ulysse Nardin Diver X Skeleton Black is essentially a large “X” with virtually everything else carved away to reveal its highly skeletonized movement. The dial itself features a black PVD finish with bright yellow accents, and it includes a black chapter ring that has the hour markers for the watch attached along the outer edges, giving them the appearance that they are floating above the rest of the dial and the movement’s skeletonized surfaces. Just as you would expect from any model that claims to be a dive watch, the hands and hour markers on the Ulysse Nardin Diver X Skeleton Black are finished with Super-LumiNova for improved visibility in dark conditions, and black Carbonium is used again for the cover the of the mainspring barrel, which is fully visible through the window in the dial’s surface at 12 o’clock.
Powering the Ulysse Nardin Diver X Skeleton Black is the brand’s in-house UN-372 automatic movement, which is a modified version of the UN-371 that has been updated to feature an X-shaped oscillating weight to echo the design found on the dial. Consisting of 171 components, the UN-372 runs at a frequency of 21,600vph, and it features an escape wheel, anchor, and balance spring that are all crafted from Silicium, along with offering users an ample 96-hour power reserve. The Ulysse Nardin Diver X Skeleton Black comes with both a yellow rubber strap and a black fabric R-strap that is constructed from upcycled polyamide from fishing nets that have been removed from the ocean.
The Ulysse Nardin Diver X Skeleton Black represents the continuation of the brand’s skeletonized dive watch that first debuted last year. While its core design will be familiar to fans of the original blue and orange model, its black and yellow color profile combined with its lightweight titanium construction results in a watch that both looks and feels significantly different from the previous limited edition version that was unveiled last year.

Posted on

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?).

Posted on

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.

Posted on

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.

Posted on

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.-.

Posted on

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.

Posted on

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.

Posted on

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.

Posted on

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.