A few weeks ago, Ulysse Nardin announced its Pre-SIHH 2018 watches, which include 2 very classical watches – the Marine Tourbillon Blue Enamel and the Classico Grand Feu – with all the DNA of the brand: enamel dial, nice in-house movement, Marine inspiration, elegance with a twist and relatively affordable price. A third watch was presented, however a much more original one: the Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Military. Surprised by this piece, we had to check it in the metal to vote in favour (or not) of this new Military take on the Marine roots.
To understand the new Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Military, we have to back to mid-2017, when UN introduced a new, accessible and essential version of its Marine watch, the Torpilleur. This watch, deliberately inspired by some mid-19th century Marine Chronometers manufactured by the brand, and at the same time cleared of most of the fancy features found on the standard Marine collection (see here for an example) was a refreshing novelty. The design, wisely using all the possible gimmicks that made the brand famous, was clean, elegant and completely in line with what you could expect from a UN piece. Yet, the case was shaped more classically by using traditional lugs and a more restrained diameter. Finally, there was the price, set below EUR 7,000, even with an in-house automatic movement. Altogether, a very pleasant entry-level watch.
This Torpilleur base is now used to create a military-inspired piece, available in two different execution, a watch known under the name Marine Torpilleur Military. While the brand usually relies on Marine roots – in a completely justified way, knowing that Marine Chronometers have the brand’s speciality for over a century – the military inspiration is less obvious. In fact, we might be looking for something that simply doesn’t exist and this military inspiration should be seen as a new and younger take on the brand’s DNA, yet without a proper historical relevance. In fact, why watches should always be looking at the past and refer to older models… Why trying to find a justification and not just enjoy the overall cool design.
Compared to the original Marine Torpilleur, the recipe is quite equal, at first. In fact, the evolution is not only on the design but also on the dial, the case, the crown, the dimensions and the mechanics. The evolution is not that subtle. First is the case. Apart from the obvious new sand-blasted finish, it also shows new dimensions, with now a 44mm diameter instead of 41mm. The extra-thin bezel, typical of UN’s production, is still present and even emphasizes the proportions. The large opening of the dial, especially on the white version, make the Marine Torpilleur Military a statement watch on the wrist.
The crown also adopts a new oversized diamond shape, again a typical military feature, allowing for an easy manipulation. About the sand-blasted finish, it is indeed quite special and totally changes the look of the watch. While the standard Marine Torpilleur was clearly on the elegant and luxurious side, this new military version is… very military indeed. Rough, matte, industrial, voluntarily austere and functional, it actually gives this piece a completely different attire. Like it or not, however, no one can deny that it fits the concept. To complement this military/vintage take on the Marine watch, UN provides some nicely executed straps, in a soft, slightly distressed leather, with contrasting stitchings matching the dials.
The second evolution of this Marine Torpilleur Military concerns the dial, which is still based on the classical Marine display, yet cleaned. No more power reserve indicator at 12, no Roman numerals and, for the pleasure of many collectors, no more date window. The watch basically becomes a 3 hander with a small second at 6. This provides instant legibility, as well as a clear balance of the dial, with the name of the brand being printed at 12 and not cut halfway by the axle of the hands. The hour markers have been replaced by nicely shaped Arabic numerals, with a bold font and quite a cool style. The hands, on the other hand, remain classically shaped, with Ulysse Nardin’s signature style. Two inscriptions can be seen in the sub-dial: CW refers to “Chronometer Watch“ and the red numeral refers to the unique number of the watch (from 0 to 300).
As said, the Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Military will be available in two different versions. The first one shows a cream-coloured dial with black tracks, numerals and hands. The other one features a matte black dial with Orange numerals and tracks, combined with white luminous hands. On each version though, we could see minor but easy corrections. First, on the cream version, the numerals are luminous, yet the blackened hands aren’t. While the look is definitely cool, in terms of functionality, the addition of black Super-Luminova would make sense. Also, maybe to have the hands matching the orange colour of the indexes on the black dial version could be more logical. Overall, these two versions (and especially the cream dial) are great looking watches with a strong personality and could be even better.
Inside the case of the Marine Torpilleur Military is an evolution of the well-known Calibre UN-118, without two of its usual complications – the power reserve indicator and the date. This exclusive movement, developed and manufactured by the brand in its Le Locle-based facilities, features the proprietary Silicium anchor escapement, crafted in-house, and it boasts both COSC certification and the Ulysse Nardin certificate, a double guarantee of the highest performance standards. This modern automatic calibre ticks at 28,800 vibrations per hour with a power reserve of 60 hours. The movement, finished with pleasant decoration, remains hidden behind a plain steel back, adorned with a with a distinctive military Torpilleur boat (see, the Marine roots are not that far away).
Overall, there’s a lot to love in this Marine Torpilleur Military. The clean style of the dial, the rough finishing of the case, the vintage and military inspiration, the overall design of the dial… The size will be a matter of taste as always. This watch just lacks one or two minor corrections to become even more desirable. Maybe UN will hear us. The Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Military will be officially presented in January, at the SIHH 2018. Both editions are limited to 300 pieces and will be the price at CHF / EUR 7,900. More details on www.ulysse-nardin.com.
Technical Specifications – Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Military
- Case: 44mm diameter – sand-blasted stainless steel – sapphire crystal with AR-coating – steel stamped caseback – 5 ATM / 50 m water resistant.
- Movement: Calibre UN-118 with automatic winding – 60 h power reserve – 28,800 vibrations per hour – 50 jewels – hours, minutes, small seconds – COSC certification, Ulysse Nardin certification
- Strap: Black or Tan leather strap, steel folding buckle
- References: 1183-320LE/60 (eggshell white dial) – 1183-320LE/62 (black and orange dial)
- Limited Edition of twice 300 pieces
- Price: EUR / CHF 7,900