Saturday, December 24, 2016

Ulysse Nardin: High Seas Meets High Horology

Marine Tourbillon Grand Deck

By Jason Heaton

A long history of nautical timekeeping inspires three new Ulysse Nardin watches.

Despite its land-locked headquarters in the Swiss Alps, Ulysse Nardin has always had a strong tie to the sea. In 1846, after finishing his apprenticeship, the company’s namesake founded his own manufacture in Le Locle, and concentrated his efforts on building marine chronometers.

Part of a limited edition of 18 pieces.

In those days, navigating a ship relied on a sextant, a clear view of the sky, and a chronometer — a precise timepiece that could keep time for weeks on end while being pitched to and fro by the unpredictable rolling of the waves. Ulysse Nardin earned a reputation for building chronometers suitable for seafaring that has carried to the present day. With the new Marine Tourbillon Grand Deck, Ulysse Nardin translates its nautical heritage into an extraordinary timepiece.

In a modern age of satellite navigating, this watch is still accurate enough for celestial wayfinding if you ever end up offshore with dead batteries in your GPS. Its vaunted accuracy can be attributed to a movement driven by two mainspring barrels, one dedicated to timekeeping and the other to the watch’s complications. A tourbillon rotates the escapement once every 60 seconds to balance out the deleterious effects of gravity on the watch’s rate.

Marine Chronograph Annual Calendar

Despite its timekeeping prowess, it’s not the movement that’s most impressive about the Marine Tourbillon Grand Deck. That distinction goes to the unique time display, which incorporates Dyneema, a polyethylene fiber that, when woven into a strand, is many times stronger than steel. The material is also much lighter and immune to corrosion, which is why it’s used for riggings on modern sailboats. Here, it’s used to pull the “boom” of the retrograde display across the dial. As time passes, the boom travels across the minute scale, snapping back at the passing of each hour, which is shown in an aperture at the top.

Continuing the nautical theme, the wood-marquetry dial is made to resemble the teak decking used on sailing yachts. The watch, which is limited to a mere 18 pieces, is a fitting continuation of Ulysse Nardin’s history of seafaring timekeeping.

Under Sail
Equally capable and outstanding in its own right is the Marine Chronograph Annual Calendar. As its name suggests, this is not only a 12-hour chronograph, but it also tracks the month and date for a full year, requiring correction only at the end of February. While this is an elegant watch, the Marine Chronograph Annual Calendar remains suitable for extended time at sea with a steel case that is water resistant to 100 meters.

Ulysse Anchor Tourbillon

Finally, hearkening back to its innovative roots, the Ulysse Anchor Tourbillon continues Ulysse Nardin’s tradition of precision timekeeping with a tourbillon and constant force escapement made from anti-magnetic silicium. All of this engineering is housed in a refined white or rose gold case that boasts a textured enamel dial in a color that is fittingly as deep blue as the sea.

For a company that got its start building marine chronometers, Ulysse Nardin has stayed true to its nautical legacy. These new timepieces advance the brand’s reputation for innovation and precise timekeeping while evoking a direct connection to the sea.

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