Celebrating its 175th anniversary this year, Ulysse Nardin enlarges and enhances its Marine Torpilleur collection with the introduction of complications and enamel dials. As the youngest member of the distinguished Marine Collection inspired by Ulysse Nardin’s historic marine chronometers, the Marine Torpilleur picks up on vintage design cues but comes in a lighter, younger and more versatile package like the fast, manoeuvrable torpedo boats that inspired its name. A demonstration of Ulysse Nardin’s impressive savoir-faire accumulated since 1846 and its revolutionary Silicium technology, the new Marine Torpilleurs introduce variety into the collection. The seven new Marine Torpilleurs are limited editions and will be unveiled during the 2021 edition of Geneva Watch Days.
Background Marine Torpilleur
Although Switzerland is landlocked, Ulysse Nardin has always felt the call of the sea. Founded in 1846 in Le Locle by Ulysse Nardin, the young clockmaker consolidated his reputation with precision marine chronometers. By the 1870s, the manufacture supplied more than 50 navies and merchant marine companies with precision marine deck chronometers. Precision timekeeping brought a major leap forward in navigation, and the marine chronometer became one of the most fundamental of all shipboard instruments, as essential a tool as GPS or a radar system on a ship today. The accuracy of these portable timepieces used to calculate longitude at sea (around 0.1 seconds per day, or less than 1 minute per year) allowed Captain James Cook to circumnavigate the globe in 1779.
Naturally, a brand with such a seafaring past had to have a marine-inspired collection, and in 1996, with Rolf Schnyder at the helm, Ulysse Nardin introduced its Marine Chronometer 1846 family. The Marine Torpilleur launched in 2017 as a smaller, lighter, less expensive version of its Marine collection. Its name is taken from a torpilleur or torpedo boat, a small, fast boat introduced in the late 19th-century used to transport and deploy torpedoes against battleships. Equipped with the latest technology of the day, the speed and manoeuvrability of the torpilleurs posed a real threat to larger, heavily armed and cumbersome battleships – what in today’s context would be known as a fast attack craft (FAC). Not surprisingly, Ulysse Nardin named one of its 1/10th of a second pocket watches, produced from 1936 to 1980, the Chronograph Marine Torpilleur. When Ulysse Nardin launched its Marine Torpilleur in 2017, the goal was to produce a lighter version of its iconic Marine watches with a lighter price to attract a new generation of “contemporary explorers”.
The new fleet
Most of the key traits of the Marine Torpilleur family have been respected: the thin fluted bezel, the elongated Roman numerals, the spade and whip hands, the double counters at 12 and 6 o’clock (with the exception of the chronograph and tourbillon) that hark back to the display of marine chronometers and, of course, the brand’s signature silicium escapement. The ‘Chronometry Since 1846’ inscription in the small seconds counter is new but, for obvious reasons, not featured on the Tourbillon model. Seven models – the Blue Enamel, the Panda, the Moonphase white and Moonphase blue, the Chronograph white and the Chronograph blue, and the Tourbillon Grand Feu enamel – comprise the new fleet of Marine Torpilleurs. All seven Marine Torpilleurs come with an elegant alligator leather strap and a deployant buckle but are compatible with an R-strap made from recycled fishing nets and metal bracelets. Another novelty is the ‘lighter’ minutes track that is now composed of short marking without a rail.
Marine Torpilleur Blue Enamel
With its navy blue uniform and crisp white and golden markings, this new Blue Enamel wristwatch has an exquisite Grand Feu enamel dial. Ulysse Nardin is one of the few manufactures to make its own dials and bought Donzé Cadrans in 2011, a family-run company specialising in enamel dials. Donzé Cadrans is one of the few remaining enamel dial specialists, and no amount of contemporary technology can replace the talent of its artisans who are all trained in the workshop. With a diameter of 42mm and a height of 11.73mm, the stainless steel case features polished, and satin finishings and the hallmark fixed fluted bezel framing the dial. The layout of the two vertical sub-counters harks back to the layout of traditional marine chronometers, similar to the ones made by Ulysse Nardin’s in the 19th century. Like existing models in the Marine Torpilleur collection, the counter at 12 o’clock displays the power reserve indicator and is balanced vertically with a larger small seconds counter at 6 o’clock with an aperture for the date and the “Chronometry since 1846” inscription. The sapphire caseback reveals the in-house calibre UN-118, an automatic movement with COSC-chronometer certification and a power reserve of 60 hours. The Marine Torpilleur Blue Enamel is available on a blue or brown alligator strap and is limited to 175 pieces.
Quick facts: 42mm x 11.73mm – stainless steel – fluted bezel – sapphire crystal caseback – 50m water-resistant – Grand Feu blue enamel dial – calibre UN-118 manufacture – COSC-certified automatic – Silicium balance spring, Diamonsil escapement wheel and anchor – 28,800vph – 60h power reserve – hours, minutes, small seconds and date – limited to 175 pieces – price EUR 10,000
Marine Torpilleur Panda
Vivid contrasts for this new interpretation of the Marine Torpilleur with its two dark blue sub-dials and white varnished dial. Known as a ‘Panda-style’ dial usually associated with sporty chronographs, this is the first time UN has used this design. With the same layout and functions as the Blue Enamel watch described above, the Panda is a refreshing take on the classic spirit of the Marine Torpilleur and gives it a sportier, slightly more contemporary vibe. The two counters are slightly recessed and snailed and feature golden touches on the power reserve indicator and the “Chronometry since 1846” signature in the small seconds counter. The Panda is also powered by Ulysse Nardin’s in-house UN-118 automatic movement with a 60-hour power reserve. It is limited to 300 pieces and comes with a blue or brown alligator leather strap.
Quick facts: 42mm x 11.13mm – stainless steel – fluted bezel – sapphire crystal caseback – 50m water-resistant – varnished Panda dial – calibre UN-118 manufacture – COSC-certified automatic – Silicium balance spring, Diamonsil escapement wheel and anchor – 28,800vph – 60h power reserve – hours, minutes, small seconds and date – limited to 300 pieces – price EUR 7,200
Marine Torpilleur Annual Chronograph
Moving up the complications ladder is the new Torpilleur Annual Chronograph. It might be new to the Marine Torpilleur collection, but its ancestor was the UN Chronograph Marine Torpilleur stopwatch produced from 1936 to 1980. With its precision readings of 1/10th of a second, the stopwatch was used during the 1936 Berlin Olympics and then adopted by scientists, geodesic commissions and even automobile clubs. This watch also happens to be the largest Marine Torpilleur to date with its 44mm case steel case and the first to abandon the signature double counter layout (power reserve above, small seconds and date below). It is also the first of its line to be fitted with the UN-153 manufacture movement. An automatic integrated column-wheel chronograph movement based on the UN-150 with an annual calendar module developed by Ludwig Oeschlin, the UN-153 powers the time, the 30-minute counter, the small seconds and the month indicator and date. Available with a matte blue PVD dial or a white varnished dial, the blue dial has white and golden markings, while the white dial uses blue indices, blued hands and a subtle dash of red for the 1846 inscription and the month hand. Limited to 300 pieces in each colour, the Torpilleur Annual Chronograph also comes with a blue or brown alligator strap.
Quick facts: 44mm x 13.66mm – stainless steel – fluted bezel – sapphire crystal caseback – 50m water-resistant – blue PVD or white varnished dial – 30-min chronograph sub-dial at 3, months and small seconds at 9, date at 6 o’clock – calibre UN-153 manufacture – automatic – Silicium escapement, balance spring and anchor – 28,800vph – 52h power reserve – hours, minutes, small seconds, date, chronograph and annual calendar – limited to 300 pieces in each colour – EUR 10,600
Marine Torpilleur Moonphase 42mm
Long before the advent of marine chronometers, navigators relied on celestial navigation and understood the Moon’s role in changing tides. Since the end of the 19th century, Ulysse Nardin has been producing watches with moon phase complications. Available with a white varnished dial with blue markings or a blue sunbrushed dial with silver markings, the new Marine Torpilleur Moonphase stages the waxing and waning of our celestial neighbour in the small seconds counter at 6 o’clock. The blue PVD night sky is decorated with silver stars and a silvery moon. The smaller counter at noon, like other Torpilleur models, displays the power reserve indicator, which, thanks to the UN-119 COSC-certified automatic movement, is a robust 60 hours. Limited to 300 pieces in each colour, the watch comes with a blue or brown alligator strap.
Quick facts: 42mm x 11.13mm – stainless steel – fluted bezel – sapphire crystal caseback – 50m water-resistant – blue sunbrushed PVD or white varnished dial – power reserve at 12, small seconds and moon phases at 6 o’clock – calibre UN-119 manufacture – COSC-certified automatic movement – Silicium balance spring, Diamonsil escapement wheel and anchor – 28,800vph – 60h power reserve – hours, minutes, small seconds and moon phase complication – limited to 300 pieces in each colour – EUR 8,600
Marine Torpilleur Tourbillon Grand Feu
The most complicated and luxurious Marine Torpilleur to date, this impressive 42mm model comes in a rose gold case with a splendid black Grand Feu dial and a large aperture for the flying tourbillon. As a manufacture that primes precision, tourbillons have always figured in the brand’s repertoire, from classical Marine models to the hyper complicated Blast HourStriker Tourbillon. Powered by the in-house calibre UN-128 of 2017 and first fitted on board the Marine Tourbillon, the silicium escapement wheel, balance spring, and anchor add a touch of purple to the scenery. Also handcrafted by Donzé Cadrans, the inky black Grand Feu dial with its bold white Roman numerals and hallmark power reserve indicator at noon is the epitome of elegance. Complementing the rose gold case, the hands are rose gold-coloured. This model is limited to 175 pieces and, like all the novelties in the latest Torpilleur family, comes with an alligator strap.
Quick facts: 42mm x 11.93mm – 5N rose gold – fluted bezel – sapphire crystal caseback – 50m water-resistance – black Grand Feu enamel dial – power reserve at 12, flying tourbillon at 6 o’clock – rose gold-coloured hands – calibre UN-128 manufacture – COSC-certified automatic – flying tourbillon with Ulysse anchor escapement (constant) – Silicium escapement wheel, balance spring and anchor – 18,000vph – 60h power reserve – hours, minutes, flying tourbillon, power reserve indicator – limited to 175 pieces – EUR 42,200
For more information, please visit Ulysse Nardin.