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Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronometer Manufacture
The face that launched a thousand ships
Ulysse Nardin was founded in 1846 and has a long history making marine chronometers.
Marine Chronometers were originally used to assist mariners to navigate seas. The advent of advanced navigational instruments and ultimately GPS has negated the importance of the Marine Chronometers.
But technology within the watchmaking industry has also advanced with the passage of time and Ulysse Nardin have kept pace with this.
The 2012 Marine Chronometer Manufacture harnesses the UN-118 calibre within its handsome case. However, it does not eschew the traditional craftsmanship adored by those seeking haute horology.
A white disc of pure white enamel is the result of the patience and craft exemplified by Donzé Cadrans, a specialist in the field of enamelled dials. Donzé Cadrans was recently acquired by Ulysse Nardin and its work has a beauty evident to all those who have viewed the watch closely.
Grand Feu enamelling requires an understanding of powders; temperature and time. Many years of endeavour are required to truly master the skill and provide consistent, flawless results.
Roman numerals are used to indicate the hours.
The chapter ring consists of a minute rail, with each fifth integer marked with an inverted equilateral triangle.
Towards noon, a subdial, slightly recessed indicates the stored power within the main spring. When the main spring is fully wound it has a power reserve of 60 hours and this is shown with the hand pointing to the words “haut” and “up”. When the spring is in its most relaxed state the hand moves clockwise towards the text marked “bas” and “down” and enters a red zone to further warn the wearer.
Across the centre of the dial running in line from 9 o’clock to 3 o’clock is the text “Ulysse Nardin” and interestingly “Le Locle” and “Suisse”. Le Locle has a proud tradition of watchmaking. This model should reinforce the self-esteem felt by all residents of this district within the Jura mountains.
A subdial located towards the southerly position of the dial displays seconds and has a date aperture at 6 o’clock. The date is slightly magnified to help those of us whose eyes are failing due to the onset of advancing years.
The hands are presented in black. They have an arced profile, but the hour hand is exquisitely enhanced with a pointer at its end, featuring a white circle to aid interpretation.
The case diameter of 45mm is large and counters the trend towards smaller case diameters. It may intimidate wearers of small physical stature, but for my above average frame it felt in proportion as I put it on my wrist.
The bezel has a fluted design, capturing light and offering an interesting aesthetic.
On the side of the caseband, this limited edition model bears a plaque showing the unique number from a release of 350 models.
The strap attaches to the case with purposeful union. Conventional inter-horns are abandoned for a more steadfast fastening which includes screws for security.
The crown is gold and screwed down. It features a black, knurled grip to aid adjustment.
I often turn over a watch, hoping to see a sapphire caseback. I was not to be disappointed with this model. An enchanting manufacture movement sat proudly in the case. This was much to my delight, when I closely examined the watch at Baselworld.
Ulysse Nardin have created a fine movement with the UN-118 calibre.
The self-winding rotor is intricately profiled, bearing the brands nomenclature. It features two anchors, the company’s logo and on a black disc, the DIAMonSIL brand name.
DIAMonSIL is an alloy of diamond and silicon unique to Ulysse Nardin which has been used for the patented escapement.
The hairspring is made of silicon. This state of the art metallurgy has only been embraced by a limited number of high-end brands.
The movement consists of 248 components. A high number for a watch with only hours, minutes, seconds, date indication and power reserve indicator. It is this high number which illustrates the depth of the engineering and quality of the construction.
Finissage is something I hold in high esteem and Ulysse Nardin have pursued perfection with the fine finishing evident on the movement.
Côtes de Genève features on the bridges. Perlage is visible on the plate. Adroit anglage and blued screws reinforce the excellence of the artisans work.
Another clever feature is the date-corrector offering forward and backward adjustment. Those who have been momentarily distracted whilst adjusting the date will appreciate the time-saving benefit of this.
COSC certification independently validates the precision of the watch.
I am sometimes accused of being very kind to the brands and models I write about. However, I only ever write about the models I admire and with which I can identify.
In the past some of the Ulysse Nardin models have not always appealed to me for aesthetic reasons, albeit I could appreciate the quality of the proposition.
On seeing this model at Baselworld I informed my host at Ulysse Nardin I wanted to write about the Marine Chronometer Manufacture. With my deep Lancastrian timbre, I said with deep conviction, “I get this watch”.
The manufacture movement fuses state of the art innovation with traditional craftsmanship and the results are sublime.
However, as much as I admire the mechanical integrity of this model, it is the visual appeal of this watch which I have wholeheartedly fallen.
The dial is magnificent.
The mythological figure Helen of Troy may have launched 1000 ships. I think the beautiful face of this watch could result in an armada of watch lovers sailing the seven seas towards a land locked canton in the Jura Mountains.
- Model: Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronometer Manufacture
- Reference: 1186-122
- Case: 18-carat rose gold; diameter 45.00 mm; height 13.55 mm ; water resistant to 20 bar (200 metres); sapphire crystal to front and back.
- Functions: Hours; minutes; subsidiary seconds; date; power reserve indicator.
- Movement: caliber UN-118; self-winding; frequency 28,800 vph; 50 jewels; power reserve 60 hours.
- Strap: Black leather strap on rose gold deployant
- Limited Edition - 350 pieces