Right after Baselworld 2016, we shared with you a video interview, where the CEO of Ulysse Nardin, Patrik P. Hoffmann, was explaining the importance of the Marine Collection in the brand’s portfolio. Indeed, this collection is the best-seller of the brand and is, this year, celebrating its 20th anniversary. In this video, we already introduced to you the superb and complex commemorative watch, the Ulysse Nardin Grand Deck Marine Tourbillon. It’s time for us now to have a closer look at this surprising watch, with a unique marine-oriented display.
The actual Marine Collection by Ulysse Nardin is actually all about the DNA of the brand. Indeed, it looks at the roots of the manufacture, at a time when Nardin was creating some of the best marine chronometers available, more than a century ago. The collection is still nowadays focused on precision, reliability and legibility, with a design that is clearly inspired by what makes a marine chronometer. Launched in 1996, this collection, which certainly is a major source of Ulysse Nardin’s success, celebrates its 20th anniversary. In order to commemorate this milestone collection, the brand introduced this year, at Baselworld, 2 very different watches. The first one is extremely classical, refined and plays on simplicity to display a complex annual calendar (thanks to the work of Mister Ludwig Oechslin) and the other is certainly from another world, as being an extremely complex watch, with unique marine display, jumping hours and tourbillon. This is the Ulysse Nardin Grand Deck Marine Tourbillon and it perfectly embraces the roots of the collection.
What makes this Ulysse Nardin Grand Deck Marine Tourbillon so special? Well, it’s all about the display, which is clearly not classical – and you know us here, at Monochrome-Watches, we love when time is indicated in a different manner. It is composed of two separated elements. The first one is rather traditional, as we’re talking jumping hours. In a double window placed at 12, two large digits are giving the indication of the hour. Of course, they are instantaneously jumping at the end of each hour. In order not to deregulate the entire movement and the indication of the minutes, this hour indication can be quickly corrected via a pusher at 2 (which can also be practical when traveling, to quickly switch from a time zone to another). The rest of display on the other hand is far from being traditional and simple. And on top of its complexity, this way to indicate the time is a great tribute to the marine world.
Attached at 12 is a large hand, shaped like a boom (the horizontal spar used to angle the head sail). This is in fact a 60-minute retrograde hand, which is not driven classically by gears and pinions hidden under the dial, but by a complex wire mechanism. The boom jumps back once an hour, its speed regulated by a purpose-designed retrograde mechanism. The mesmerizing leap takes 3 to 4 seconds. This patented system is drawn by a super-strong hi-tech fiber that is thinner than a human hair. The boom is pulled by a nanowire that measures a mere 0.0357 mm in diameter and is capable of withstanding traction of 1.41 kg without stretching. The nanowire is made of polyethylene Dyneema® fiber, a material that is used in ship’s rigging and is substantially stronger than steel. This wire is driven by four pulleys (placed at approximately 2, 4, 7 and 10). It could have been quite difficult for Ulysse Nardin to imagine a display more inspired by the world of Marine than this one. Impressive, both visually and technically. You can see the motion of this superb display in the video below.
Together with this complex display, the Ulysse Nardin Grand Deck Marine Tourbillon doesn’t forget one main component of marine chronometers: precision. The movement is regulated by a one-minute tourbillon working at a 3Hz frequency, placed at 6 one the dial. The movement comprises 469 components and boasts 48 hours of power reserve – a value that might seem low but do consider the large amount of energy required by the pulley / wire display and the jumping hours. This movement works with 2 barrels, the first one devoted to the time-telling mechanism (understand here the regulating organ), the second one being used to the display of the hours and minutes. The double-barrel design prevents the complication from interfering with the workings of the watch.
This complex mechanism is housed in a 44mm case, made out from 18k white gold. It shares its design with the rest of the Marine collection, with integrated lugs and a fluted bezel. It is complimented by a screw-down crown with blue rubber molding – making this watch water resistant to 100m (it’s not only a showcase watch…). The dial is also a great tribute to the marine world. A hand-crafted marquetry (real wood) evokes the sun-soaked teak of a ship’s bridge. Overall, this watch is certainly not classical and maybe not the most discreet of the collection, but the integration of so many references to marine, both in the design and in the display, is just stunning. Happy 20th anniversary to the Marine collection!
The Ulysse Nardin Grand Deck Marine Tourbillon is available in a limited edition of 18 pieces on an alligator strap with a white-gold folding buckle. It will retail for 280,000 Swiss Francs. More details on www.ulysse-nardin.com.
Specifications of the Ulysse Nardin Grand Deck Marine Tourbillon
- Case: 44mm diameter – 18k white gold – sapphire crystal on the front and on the back – 100m water resistant
- Movement: Calibre UN-630, in-house – manual winding – 48h power reserve – 21,600 vibrations/h – jumping hours, retrograde minutes wire-driven, one-minute tourbillon
- Strap: alligator strap with white-gold folding buckle