Story in a second The Marine Chronometer Torpilleur shows a new, focused and driven face of Ulysse Nardin. I’m going to start this review talking not about mechanical watches, but naval warfare. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, naval dominance was all about massive floating fortresses, with thick plate armour and a massed battery of cannons. These ships, which culminated in the dreadnought class of battleships, were the undisputed masters of the seas. To counter these ungainly behemoths, the Torpilleur, or torpedo boat, was developed. Streamlined, fast and modern, the Torpilleurs were armed with the latest technology — the self-propelled torpedo. These low-cost boats were intended as battleship-killers and presented a real threat to the dominance of the big ships. Now, do you really think it’s a coincidence that Ulysse Nardin chose to name their new, streamlined Marine Chronometer the “Torpilleur”? The dial Of all the elements of the Torpilleur, the dial is the most traditional. It follows the established conventions of a marine chronometer or deck watch — early navigational timepieces that put Ulysse Nardin on the map. The poire hands are blued, set against a crisp white lacquer dial, printed with bold Roman numerals, with dial… Read More
When it was originally conceived, the tourbillon 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’s Marine Tourbillon 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… Read More
Imagine you were suddenly launched back in time and onto the deck of a naval ship in the second half of the 19th century. What’s the very first thing you’d do? Personally, if I’ve learnt anything about time travel from The Terminator, I’d find some clothes. Shortly after that, I’d be pretty keen to know exactly “when” I was, and the only way to do that at sea would be to consult the ship’s marine chronometre – and there’s a good chance it would been made by Ulysse Nardin. It’s this style of watch – along with other suitably nautical horology that made UN famous – that they’re still best known for today. But that doesn’t mean they don’t surprise us every so often. And this year they dipped into their 171-year-old back catalogue and released a vintage inspired reissue of a 1964 diver, called, simply enough, the Diver Le Locle. As far as looks go, not much has changed from the original. The design elements that made the original such a looker are still present – large luminescent hour markers, thick pencil hands, and a fully graduated unidirectional coin edged bezel. Although, they’ve been updated to suit modern standards. Take… Read More
Ulysse Nardin made their name way back in 1846 making marine chronometres – highly accurate ship’s clocks that were an essential navigational tool in the times before radio and GPS. These days the Le Locle-based brand still makes chronometre-style timepeices, but as a celebration of heritage rather than a practical tool. This isn’t to say that Ulysse Nardin has given up on the sea; far from it, as their new Marine Regatta demonstrates. Developed with the support and input of Artemis Racing – the Swedish sailing team the brand sponsors – the Marine Regatta is, as the name suggests, a regatta timer, one of the more specialised complications in horology. For those of you not familiar with competitive sailing, yachts don’t begin from a standing start, but rather jockey for position and aim to cross the starting line as soon as the starting gun goes off (boats are penalised for crossing early). So in the minutes before the race starts there’s a signal that lets skippers know that a countdown period (typically five to 10 minutes) has begun, and that they should head towards the starting line. Which is where the regatta timer comes in. In the simplest terms a regatta… Read More
Le Locle-based Ulysse Nardin made their debut showing at SIHH this year, and we have to say, they brought the heat. We’re used to brands showing us one or two major novelties, but it’s safe to say UN went far beyond that. From technical tourbillons and regatta timers through to stunning dress pieces, vintage reissues and haute horlogerie wonders, the scale and substance of Ulysse Nardin’s offering meant their booth had a real buzz. What does this mean for Australian watch fans? Well, expect to see and hear a whole lot more about UN in the coming months as the brand makes inroads into the local market.
We’re all taught the colours of the rainbow from pre-school, so it’s amazing how many of us grow up to wear only black. Anything brighter is definitely viewed as a risk, which is why smaller wardrobe items are a great starting point for that gamble. For guys, it might be a patterned pocket square or the flash of contrasting sock, while ladies can dabble with a broader palette through make-up and jewellery. Across the board, though, one place that’s perfect for introducing colour is the wrist. My first thoughts on seeing the Ulysse Nardin Classico Automatic Lady, fresh for 2017, was that it is very, very bright. But, as is so often the case with watches, you really need to spend some quality time with it before jumping to conclusions. Up close, the translucent blue enamel dial is so vibrant, it’s on the cusp of purple – and in daylight, it’s hard to take your eyes off the sun ray guilloché. It really is show-stopping, to the point that the 60 diamonds circling the case are really just a support act. The leaf-shaped hands are elegantly tapered, pointing towards Roman numerals at 3, 6, 9 and 12, with indices in between keeping… Read More
Ulysse Nardin pulled out all the stops for its first SIHH showing. In a fair charactered by conservative product releases, the Le Locle-based manufacturer presented a strong line-up of novelties, with a strong nautical theme, highlights including the new regatta timer, the technically impressive Marine Grand Deck, as well as this watch – the Classico Manufacture Grand Feu. This very traditional timepiece is jam-packed with smart details and offered at a highly competitive price. At 40mm across, the round steel case is hard to dislike, with its wide polished bezel, slightly clawed lugs set into the case middle and a crown that’s simple, sturdy and not at all fiddly. Nice though the case is, it doesn’t hold a candle to what’s within. The movement is the UN-320 caliber, made entirely in-house, down to the silicium hairspring and escapement – a feat of which the brand is rightly proud (the oft-repeated message at SIHH was that none of the other exhibiting brands made their own silicon hairsprings). The movement finishing is neat, though not astonishing. The rotor, with its blue anchor logo and wave pattern is quite pleasing on the eye. The dial is another story. It’s a ‘grand feu’ enamel dial in vivid,… Read More