REVIEW: Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronograph Annual Calendar – User Report with Photos, Specs and Price

The new Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronograph Annual Calendar was introduced earlier this year at Baselworld, to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the brand’s Marine collection. Inside ticks the newly developed calibre UN-153, which actually is the in 2014 introduced Ulysse Nardin in-house chronograph calibre UN-150, with an additional annual calendar mechanism. This is definitely not “yet another annual calendar watch”; it is a small miracle, both technical as well as price-wise! Patrik Hoffman, the brand’s CEO, talked about it in the interview that we did during Baselworld, and in the past weeks we had the privilege to wear and test the watch. Here’s our take on the new Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronograph Annual Calendar in stainless steel. 

Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronograph Annual CalendarUlysse Nardin – some background information

The company was founded by Ulysse Nardin in 1846 after learning the trade from his father, Leonard-Frederic Nardin, and from Frederic William Dubois and Louis JeanRichard-dit-Bressel, two master watchmakers from Neuchatel, Switzerland. Historically Ulysse Nardin is known for its marine deck chronometers. During the 19th century many Naval forces across the world used these highly accurate chronometers. In 1983, the company was acquired by Rolf Schnyder who relaunched the brand and he set course for a course that shaped the brand as we know it today. A fundamental role in this course was for Dr. Ludwig Oechslin, historian, inventor and master watchmaker, and later also conservator of the Musee International d’Horlogerie, who created important timepieces like the GMT Perpetual Calendar, the legendary Freak, Genghis Khan and Sonata. These timepieces have all been awarded with prizes for technical innovations, and rightfully so.

Dr. Ludwig Oechslin’s role was pivotal for many new Ulysse Nardin watches, as well as for other like for instance the mythical MIH Watch, and all watch from Ochs und Junior, like the new Ochs und Junior Perpetual Calendar. A returning factor is that Oechslin seeks form ‘smart solutions’ and that results for instance the very first watch with silicon escapement (the Freak), the very first perpetual calendar that could easily be set forwards and backwards (the Perpetual Ludwig – GMT Perpetual Calendar) and an annual calendar with only 9 parts (compared to several dozen parts for any annual calendar from every other watch brand).

Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronograph Annual Calendar

The Marine Collection is an evolution of the Marine deck chronometers and is UN’s number one product family. The Marine Collection was introduced in 1996, and subsequently 2016 marks its 20th Anniversary. The official name of the Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronograph Annual Calendar that we discuss today, is actually still Marine Chronograph, so without “Annual Calendar” while is certainly packs this very useful calendar complication. Due to the few additional parts needed for the ‘upgrade’ from date function to annual calendar, the necessary price increase was almost zero. Therefore Ulysse Nardin decided to keep the price more or less the same as for the Marine Chronograph, and also to keep the name the same. This means you get the annual calendar function for free, and it’s also not mentioned in the full name. I love it when brands do things like this!

Case and Dial of the Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronograph

The design of case and dial shows the personality of UN’s Marine collection, inspired by the design of deck watches; sturdy, functional, a robust case, easily legible, and Roman numerals. With its grooved bezel, its screw-down crown and pushers, the solid construction of the case as well as the cleanliness of the dial, the Annual Calendar amalgamates the looks of a sports watch and a classic chronograph. The hands are blackened, and feature luminescent material for improved legibility in the dark, and only the coloured hand, is the red small hand that indicates the months. The red month indicator and “1846” give a nice touch to the white dial and black hands and numerals.

The silvery white dial looks balanced with its three sub-dials; the 30-minute chronograph counter at the three o’clock position, the 12 hour-counter at the 6 o’clock position and the continuous running seconds in the sub-dial at 9 o’clock, and this also comprises the month of the year indicator. The round window for the day display looks really nice and resembles a ship’s porthole. The magnifying glass, glued to the under-side of the sapphire crystal, adds a bit of magnification, however in our view it is not really necessary for improved legibility.

The 43mm case in steel (or 18K rose gold) with grooved (ribbed or fluted or whatever word you prefer) bezel shows two faces: on the crown side multiple polished surfaces, mirrored-trapezoid-like pushers, rubber protection of pushers and crown. On the other side a smooth surface with a screwed label indicating the serial number in a classic italic script. If you like polishing cases and lugs, the UN Marine Chronograph Annual Calendar is a watch for you! You can spend long winter evenings doing just that.

The Movement – Ulysse Nardin Calibre UN-153

Like calibre UN-118 in the Marine Chronometer Manufacture, introduced in 2012, and calibre UN-150 in the Marine Chronograph Manufacture of 2014, the caliber UN-153 movement is developed in-house and holds the Ulysse Nardin Certificate, indicating that the watch meets the company’s testing standards that go beyond the COSC tests. Calibre UN-153 extends the in-house automatic integrated column-wheel based chronograph movement UN-150 with an innovative annual calendar designed by Ludwig Oechslin. Oechslin is known for his mastery of simplicity: the skill to develop complications as efficiently, functional and simple as possible. A skill that many designers strive for but one that is difficult to master. Rather than including a separate module, the watchmakers managed to develop an annual calendar system of 12 elements (note: CEO Patrik Hoffmann speaks about only 7 additional parts during our video interview). A truly ingenious job that required only three additional wheels!

The UN-153 movement features the brand’s DIAMonSIL escapement, which feature the variable inertia balance wheel, known from the UN-118 movement and the silicon hairspring from Sigatec. Sigatec is a company that is co-owned by Ulysse Nardin. The name DIAMonSIL is derived from DIAMond and SILicon. The material consists of an artificial diamond coating on a silicon base, combining the hardness of diamond and the low weight of silicon. It is lubrication free and extends durability significantly. The escapement wheel and lever are constructed from this material.

The movement’s balance wheel vibrates at 28,800 vph (4Hz) and the variable inertia balance is adjusted by four in-set screws on the balance wheel instead of the more common smooth balance wheel adjusted by a regulator. The movement has a power reserve of 52 hours.

We love the design, the clean finishing, small design feats like the large blued screws, the anchor-shaped rotor with 2 small anchors and a blue UN logo. Finishing is a key contributor to the cost of a watch. Perhaps it is the factor that distinguishes watches more than technical quality. The Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronograph Annual Calendar movement shows finishing of circular Côtes de Genève, pèrlage and angling.

Strap and Clasp

All models from the Marine collection are available with rubber strap or alligator strap, and so is this Marine Chronograph. The double-folding clasp in stainless steel is nicely shaped and finished. Moreover it works perfect, and feel very secure. For the review we had the version with black alligator leather strap and that proved to be a sheer pleasure to wear.

Daily Use of the Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronometer Annual Calendar

The 43mm watch sits comfortably on the wrist despite its thickness. Winding the crown is smooth, and so is adjusting the time or date. As we told you before, time and date can be adjusted forward AND backward and this proves to be a great feature in daily use. Another feat that is great as an owner, is that (when you wear the watch permanently, and the watch does not have to be set) the date only needs to be adjust in February, because it’s an annual calendar.

Actuation of the chronograph functions through the pushers, works nice, and the pushers have a solid ‘click’. The dial is clean and legible. The magnifier is a matter of personal taste. We did not particularly liked it.

As UN guarantees water resistance up to 100 meters, you should be able to take a shower and swim with the watch. Having said that, be careful. Water resistance is measured in terms of pressure. And pressure is influenced by the movement of your arm. Water resistance must be checked regularly. Theoretically you could plunge into the sea with the watch on your wrist.

Specifications: Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronometer Annual Calendar

The sporty classic Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronograph Annual Calendar -or just “Marine Chronograph”- is available in 10 different versions based on various combinations of dial, case material and straps, starting from € 11,900 Euro (including VAT) for the stainless steel version with leather strap.

  • Case: stainless steel, 43mm in diameter and 15.7mm thick, grooved bezel, screw-down security crown covered with rubber, chronograph pushers covered with rubber inlay, flat sapphire crystal on both sides with antireflective treatment, water resistant to 100m
  • Dial: roman numerals; indication of hours, minutes, seconds, stopwatch hours/minutes/seconds, month of the year, day of the month;
  • Movement: calibre UN-153, automatic-winding, 52-hours power reserve, single barrel, 53 jewels, variable inertia balance with four inset screws, frequency 28,800 vph; Ulysse Nardin Performance Certificate
  • Functions: time in hours, minutes and seconds; stopwatch; annual calendar, with forward/backward date adjusting

More information can be found at www.ulysse-nardin.com/collection/marine

2 responses

  1. Good review, my problem with the watch is that the blue screws overwhelm what is probably a beautiful watch. Polished screw heads with just the Blue emblem on the rotor would to me appear more tasteful.

  2. Hi Frank,
    thanks for the review. I like the “retro” style of this watch, as well as the legibility of the dial (not so common on chrono/annual calendars).
    What really is unexpected to me is the level of finishing of the movement. Again, in watches of course everything is a matter of taste – but i love the combination of colours in the movement….blue screws, yellow(ish) wheels, over a grey baseplate…

    Regards,
    slide68

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