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, translucent blue, and has been engraved with a very subtle radial guilloche, in a wave pattern. Perhaps this is a nod to the brand’s strong marine heritage, but regardless, the effect is glorious. The numerals are elongated and slender, avoiding the clunky look roman numerals can often have. Meanwhile, the railroad tracks around the outer dial and small seconds add to the readability and the general traditional aesthetic.
I could have done without the Arabic numerals on the small seconds dial, and the date window, though neat, still sticks out a little. Having said that the fact this movement allows you to adjust the date forwards and backwards is a nice touch. Oh, and before we get someone commenting about the ‘Émail Grand Feu’ dial text – no, this isn’t a smart watch, émail is enamel in French.
Ulysse Nardin is a relatively new name to Australian audiences, but if they can continue offering wearable watches with this combination of high quality, excellent finish, graceful design and on-point pricing, I think we’ll be hearing a whole lot more about the brand in the near future.
Ulysse Nardin Classico Manufacture Grand Feu Australian pricing
Ulysse Nardin Classico Manufacture Grand Feu, in steel, $12,900