Recently I had the good fortune to travel with Ulysse Nardin to Bermuda, to get a taste of the Americas Cup and get to know the folks of the Artemis Racing Team – who are sponsored by the Le Locle-based watch brand. During that trip I borrowed the Ulysse Nardin Classic Dual Time Boutique Edition, and over the course of the days there, I found out what a great watch this is. Refined, yet bold, chic, yet rugged, and actually perfect for any occasion. Here’s our review of the Ulysse Nardin Classic Dual Time Boutique Edition, with new enamel dial and very cool strap.
Preliminary note: I have to say that the watch I have been wearing was not new. The brand’s communication director had been wearing it and testing it for over 6 months, and it shows. On photos you will see a scratch here or there, and the waxed leather strap shows a nice dark patina. On a side note, I have to mention that the watch is rated to a 30 meter water resistance. In reality it was on the wrist of someone who jumped off a cliff into the ocean, and the watch remained water proof, and the waxed leather strap seemed sort of water repellant.
The Ulysse Nardin Classic Dual Time isn’t properly a new model, as the Classic Dual Time has been in the collection now for a few years as one of the cornerstone models. This, however, doesn’t prevent us from getting back to this model and especially its latest version, which, as you’ll find out, is admittedly one of the coolest available. Based on the existing version, Ulysse Nardin is implementing some of the new design codes that we have seen for instance on the latest Marine or Classico watches – meaning sleeker looks, more refined, and some added vintage flair. The overall designs of the latest UN models seem more restrained and less “outgoing” than before, and all of that for prices that really become hard to beat. Clearly, over the last 2 years, Ulysse Nardin has been moving in a very interesting direction!
This new direction can certainly be seen in the Ulysse Nardin Classic Dual Time Boutique Edition. Based on a model featuring a rather complex display and a dial evoking Marine ropes – with a specific pattern and polished steel indexes – the brand has decided to give the watch a new look, with a clean dial and a touch of ‘vintage’, combined with a great looking strap, made to live and age on the wrist. What we call gaining patina. The icing on the cake comes from the dial itself, now made in enamel – something that seems to become the norm for Ulysse Nardin, which now fully relies on one of its greatest assets, the internalized (and famed) dial-maker Donzé Cadrans.
Basically, as we said, this version is mainly an update of an existing watch, however the dial and strap change make a world of difference on the wrist, giving this Classic Dual Time a brand new style and feel. Alongside these visual adjustments, the model also benefits from technical improvements, making its movement one clever piece of mechanics with solutions to make your life simple.
Case and Strap
Although we’re looking at the Boutique Edition, the Classic Dual Time sticks to the case that we have known for some years now. Crafted in stainless steel, entirely polished – yet with great care and precision – the case of this watch is pretty bold at first. Being sized at 42mm in diameter, it appears rather massive when you first handle it; a feeling that is reinforced by the full mirror finishing. It is quite a statement piece, which however feels more refined once on the wrist. First of all, it is here combined with a strap that is everything except classic (more about that later). The surprising thing is that while this watch might be 42mm in diameter, it wears extremely well, and much smaller then the number 42 would suggest, thank to curved lugs and an integrated strap. This combination makes it feel as if the watch almost hugs your wrist, and wears very comfortable!
The design is in the vein of Ulysse Nardin’s production, with stepped lugs and the signature plate at the left side of the case displaying the limitation and unique number of the watch. This plate is part of the brand’s DNA and even I quite like it, I know it is quite disruptive. To each his own. Two large pushers are positioned to the left and right of this plate, at 8 and 10, to quickly adjust the local time – these pushers have + and – logos engraved, in case you forget about their function. As I mentioned in the intro, the case is supposed to be 30m water resistant, which seems quite conservative, however that’s mainly because of the push piece in the crown, which enables you to select the function of the crown. As already mentioned, despite the 30m water resistance, it will certainly withstand an occasional jump into the sea (or swimming pool.)
Now, what about this strap? In fact, although we’re taking about just the strap, this aged/waxed leather drastically changes the style of the watch – alongside the new dial. The waxed brown and distressed leather on this Ulysse Nardin Classic Dual Time Boutique Edition adds the right dosage of cool and casual style. Plus, it is the kind of strap that is made to live and age, gaining patina and charm while worn. This is just a detail but one that shows the new direction of the brand, which with small adjustments changes its image, without losing its DNA. This strap is combined to a triple folding clasp, comfortable and secured.
Dial and Display
The main attraction on this Boutique Edition, compared to a standard Ulysse Nardin Classic Dual Time, is definitely its dial. While the style has evolved, the material chosen also differentiate this edition from the rest of the collection. Here, we have a superb grand feu enamel dial, in a eggshell color, warm and perfectly matching with the brown color of the strap. This dial is made internally by UN, with their own dial-maker, Donzé Cadrans. Indeed, this allows UN to offer such dials for a very attractive price level. More and more UN watches now feature enamel dials and to be honest, it is a superb move from the brand.
Compared to the previous editions, not only has the material has changed but also the style of the dial, which now has black Roman numerals and marine-style, highly legible tracks for the minutes and the small second. Time and indications are given by blackened steel hands, with a discreet and elegant leaf shape.
Several indications are given by the Ulysse Nardin Classic Dual Time, in a purposefully unbalanced way – however this particular layout is what gives this UN all its charm and uniqueness. While the small second is positioned classically at 6, the large date for instance is placed at 2. The second time-zone, the main complication of this watch, is visible in a discreet but perfectly intuitive window at 9. Also new is the crown-function indicator at 3, with W (winding), D (date) and T (time). Hours and minutes are of course on the central axis.
All of these indications are very legible and perfectly useful, whether it is the large date or the second time zone; two features that are becoming quite indispensable with our current lifestyles, traveling the world, or at least being in touch with people from across the globe. Nothing superfluous, only the necessary and useful features.
As with most of the watches manufactured by Ulysse Nardin, ease-of-use is one of the main objectives – the Ludwig Oechslin touch, if you like. While at home, you should use this watch as a single-time, meaning that the hour hand and the window at 9 should be synchronized (thus the dual time acts like a 24h indicator). However, once traveling, you’ll need to adjust the watch to indicate local time AND home time. Nothing difficult here: push one of the two pushers are 8 or 10 to make the hour hand jump forwards or backwards and then indicate local time. The window at 9 won’t move though, thus still indicating home time. The date will adjust accordingly, forward and/or backward, with the local time.
Winding and adjusting the watch is done via the crown, but not by pulling it out however. Integrated into the crown is a pusher, which allows you to select the right position – W / D / T. This feature is both technically interesting but also offers security in the long run, as pulled-crowns are sometimes forgotten and become a weak point. The large date is adjusted by the crown, and can be corrected both backwards and forwards. When setting the crown to time-adjusting, (T), the movement is hacked, and the second hand will stop, so you can adjust the time precisely. To start the movement again you push the pusher in the crown once more, so the indicator points to the W for winding position.
Inside the Ulysse Nardin Classic Dual Time Boutique Edition is a known movement, the calibre UN-324. This engine combines automatic winding with a sufficient power reserve of 48 hours. It is a complex movement, which features no less than 53 jewels and comes along with several patents (including the patented quickset 2nd time-zone). Of course, Ulysse Nardin obliges, it features an antimagnetic escapement and hairspring in silicon – don’t forget that Ulysse Nardin were the first to commercialize a watch with such material, back in the early 2000s, with the Freak (see here for a review and history of this ground breaking watch)
The look and decoration of the movement are pleasant, even if quite industrial. Screws are thermally blued, bridges are adorned with circular Geneva stripes and edges are bevelled and polished. The rotor shows a nice enamel medallion with the logo of the brand.
We already knew that Ulysse Nardin was able to create superb watches on the mechanical side, with a superior ease-of-use, where form follows function. This is again the case with the Classic Dual Time, which appeared to be a perfect ally when traveling. What is new though is the fresh design direction wanted by the brand: more refined, thanks to enamel dials and sleeker styles, with a bit of casualness and vintage appeal, however never resorting to gimmicks. This Boutique Edition is definitely refreshing and extremely pleasant to wear. A perfect companion for frequent travellers who want to get around in style.
Furthermore, this Ulysse Nardin Classic Dual Time Boutique Edition confirms once again the brand’s aggressive price policy, with a very decent tag of EUR 12,900 / CHF 12,900 (limited to 99 pieces, only at official Ulysse Nardin boutiques). Not bad for a watch with such a movement and refined enamel dial. More details on ulysse-nardin.com.
Technical Specifications – Ulysse Nardin Classic Dual Time Boutique Edition
- Case: 42mm diameter – stainless steel, polished – sapphire crystal on both sides – 30m water resistant
- Dial: eggshell grand feu enamel, black Roman numerals, blued steel hands
- Movement: Caliber UN-324 – in-house – automatic – 4Hz frequency with inertial balance wheel, silicon escapement and hairspring – Hours, minutes, small seconds, dual time, crown position indicator
- Strap: aged and waxed brown leather strap with steel folding buckle
- Limitation: 99 pieces (official boutiques only)
- Price: EUR 12,900 / CHF 12,900