Ulysse Nardin Marine Tourbillon: The Evolution Of Classic (And An Unbelievable Price)
Ulysse Nardin’s Marine collection, now 21 years old, pays tribute to the traditional marine chronometers the brand earned its fame with (see Celebrating 20 Years Of Ulysse Nardin’s Marine Line).
The watches in this line are generally created with typical Ulysse Nardin design in mind, including a fluted case and marine chronometer dial styling, both strong design elements of the Marine collection.
The inclusion of a power reserve display – usually placed at 12 o’clock on the dial – harks back to the classic marine chronometer. It is an attribute that has characterized Ulysse Nardin’s Marine timepieces since the 1996 introduction of the Marine Chronometer 1846, the watch that launched the Marine collection.
The latest Marine Tourbillon, which made its debut at SIHH 2017 (Ulysse Nardin’s first showing at the Geneva fair) is not just a classically styled timepiece; it really is so much more than that. Let’s examine why I say that.
The sublime enamel dial was crafted by Donzé Cadrans, a traditional enamel dial manufacture that Ulysse Nardin acquired in 2012. Donzé Cadrans and Ulysse Nardin have been inseparable since the company’s rebirth in 1983 (see Why Do Ulysse Nardin’s Dials Look So Good? Because Donzé Cadrans Authentically Fires Enamel).
Donzé Cadrans only works in grand feu enamel, which means that the enamel produced here is fired in a hot oven or kiln. “Grand feu” is the generic term for all genuine enamel fired at temperatures higher than 600°C.
This temperature is the point where enamel powders – which are basically crushed glass – melt and fuse with the base and/or other layers of enamel. The precise firing temperatures depend upon the specific types of enamel powders used.
The addition of a genuine enamel dial adds a slight air of decadence to this straightforward watch without perceptibly adding much – if anything – to the price.
And it mixes elegant design with demanding technology inside the case. Let’s look at that next.
Caliber UN-128 Flying Tourbillon
Once you get done admiring the classic enamel dial and the comfortable fit of the fluted stainless steel case, you begin to inspect the movement more closely. And what first pops into your consciousness is that entirely new Caliber UN-128 showcases a flying tourbillon.
This tourbillon, positioned front and center at 6 o’clock and visually balancing out the up-and-down power reserve across the dial at 12 o’clock, features Ulysse Nardin’s proprietary silicon spring and escapement technology.
The finely finished cage, wheels, and screws are also produced entirely internally by Ulysse Nardin.
Turning the watch over, the automatic movement is visible through the large sapphire crystal case back. And here it is easy to note a couple of things: the movement layout confirms its in-house status and the hand finishing is superb. I particularly like the shape and decoration of the rotor, which continues the brand’s maritime theme with three anchors. The “Ulysse Nardin blue” (yes, that is a thing) is also visible on the stampings, screws, and rotor.
And to prove Ulysee Nardin’s tourbillon is designed for precision, not just show, Caliber UN-128 has full C.O.S.C. official chronometer certification.
Tourbillons are almost never certified by the C.O.S.C. – whether because the brands do not submit them or because they don’t generally achieve the accuracy is not known. The fact that this one is certified speaks volumes.
Extremely competitive pricing
How much for a genuine enamel dial, proprietary flying tourbillon, silicon escapement, and C.O.S.C. certification? Just $28,000 (and that number is not a typo).
Not to forget the design.
And there’s more: as announced in November 2016 for all Ulysse Nardin watches, the Marine Tourbillon comes with a five-year warranty on the movement and a ten-year warranty on the silicon components!
In order to get that extended guarantee, the owner must register his or her watch on the website within one year of purchase. But, hey, that’s a small price to pay for so much in return.
In my opinion the Ulysse Nardin Marine Tourbillon offers one of the best price/performance ratios I’ve seen so far in 2017. In fact, it offers one of the best price/performance ratios I’ve ever seen!
Quick Facts Ulysse Nardin Marine Tourbillon
Case: 43 mm, stainless steel, screw-down rubber-coated security crown with crown guards
Dial: grand feu (high-fire oven) enamel by Donzé Cadrans
Movement: automatic Caliber UN-128 with flying one-minute tourbillon and silicon spring and escapement technology; 60-hour power reserve; officially C.O.S.C. certified
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; power reserve indication
Price: $28,000 / 28,000 Swiss francs / €28,000