Review of the anniversary Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur pieces

Ulysse Nardin Marine
Reading Time: 12 minutes

175 years of haute Horlogerie and haute chronometry – a powerful statement to describe Ulysse Nardin. For their celebration, they launched this summer not one, but an entire series of watches in the Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Collection. Combining the brand’s heritage, traditional watchmaking techniques and modern horology tech, the brand offers a wide choice to cover various and exigent wishes. Ulysse Nardin spoils us with a time and date version (in blue enamel and panda configuration), an annual chronograph, a moonphase (with blue or white enamel) and the crown jewel, the already reviewed Tourbillon Grand Feu.

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The brand was founded in 1846 by Ulysse Nardin and still bears its name. Specialising in marine chronometers, the brand grew quick in reputation as a supplier for 50 navies, geodesic institutes and astronomical observatories. Their watches were used by 55 navies all around the world and received 4324 certifications, testing their exceptional characteristics. The modern Marine Torpilleur collection was released in 2017 and uses in-house crafted movement with anti-magnetic silicium technology for ultimate accuracy. Silicium not only is a natural antimagnetic material but also confers very good stability with temperature making it ideal for harsh conditions.

Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Moonphase

The recent launched Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur watches bear a set of characteristic features: the collection’s specific case, blue or white dials (including grand feu enamel in blue and black) and in-house movements. The line presents similar dials, appropriate to their presented complications, with a strong note of visual conservatism, strongly influenced by their classic marine chronometers. Thank to the collaboration of Donzé Cadrans (part of the Kering Group and sister company along Girard-Perregaux), the collection is able to express itself with magnificent grand feu dials.

Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Moonphase

Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur – the case

Instead of flamboyant precious material cases, Ulysse Nardin decided to stay down to Earth and humble but true to their heritage and go with stainless steel cases. The cases have a diameter of 42mm, except the Marine Torpilleur Annual Chronograph that is cased in 44 mm.

Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Moonphase

We can recognise the polished and satin-brushed contrasts of the case adorned with the specific fluted bezel. Another discerning characteristic is the presence on the left side of the serial number plate, a Ulysse Nardin specific custom (that I personally love and enjoy in particular). To note that in the pictures can be seen which pieces are prototypes or final products.

Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Annual Chronograph

The crown (and pushers by the chrono) are manufactured in steel and present a high polished finish. The UN anchor logo is embossed on the well-proportioned crown.

Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Blue Enamel

For the collectors’ delight, the watches are fitted with a see-through case back fixed with six screws. All mechanisms are manufactured in-house with similar style finishes that complement the exterior aspect.

Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Annual Chronograph

The classic note of the Marine Torpilleur collection imposed that the watches to be fitted with a blue or brown leather strap and stainless steel deployant buckle. The double pushers clasp is very comfortable and can be extended via a pin style buckle. Nevertheless, the watches are compatible with the  Ulysse Nardin R-STRAP, rubber strap and even metal bracelet, making the line versatile to various lifestyles and personal preferences.

Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Blue Enamel

Here comes the magic, part one – the dials

Marine Torpilleur Blue Enamel

The “first” of the series is the time and date with a blue enamel dial. Catedral Roman numerals and full-bodied hands are responsible for the precise time-telling.

Marine Torpilleur Blue Enamel

The top of the dial was filled with a circular power reserve indication on a recessed sub-dial while the median line was decorated with the printed name of the brand and location.

Marine Torpilleur Blue Enamel

The lower side of the dial is dedicated to a generous sized small seconds subdial that also holds the date’s round aperture.

Marine Torpilleur Blue Enamel

And now comes an important discussion: the actual dial’s colour is navy blue ( a bit towards petrol blue). Due to natural properties, the enamel can appear dark, even black in certain lights. Due to the photography setup, all the dials tend to appear much darker.

The second part of the discussion is related to the enamel itself – this dial is actually composed from three dials: the large one covering the dual face and two small ones for each complication/indication. Considering a fair success rate of 30% (yes, the grand feu has a 70% failure rate and it is an incredibly frustrating occupation), we can consider that this watch needed manufacturing nine dials (including subdials) to achieve this state.

Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Panda

Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Panda

The second variant of this watch kept the blue subdials but renounced of the darker main dial in the favour of a white varnishing. The contrast is absolutely amazing. To note that the blue subdials are also PVD and not enamel.

Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Panda

It is like the dial is a negative of the first version and the result will be even more spectacular with blued hands but the legibility is satisfactory.

Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Annual Chronograph

Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Annual Chronograph

In a more distinguished configuration, the pieces combine two highly desirable complications: an annual calendar and a chronograph. The annual calendar means you need to manually set forward the date for the shorter months (e.g. February).

Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Annual Chronograph

The month indication shares the same space with the small seconds in a circular pattern subdial. The blue PVD dial permitted a more easily manufacturing, so it was further adorned with a recessed outer register to measure the central chrono seconds.

Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Annual Chronograph

The chronograph function totalizes just 30 minutes, enough for most of us for a quick measurement. The calibre is able to display chrono hours but the 6’o clock disc was removed for a more coherent design in the collection.  The Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Annual Chronograph kept the same somptuos numerals and hands.

Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Annual Chronograph

The date indication kept its position. But now we can notice that instead of the drilled hole, we have a round, two steps aperture. That brings us to the third note about grand feu enamel dials: besides the manufacturing difficulties, drilling is another destroying process. The drilling process can crack the enamel surface (also on a microscopic level, not visible to the human eye), plus it needs a filling to perfect the new hole.

Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Annual Chronograph

Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Annual Chronograph White

The white Marine Torpilleur Annual Chronograph received a white varnished dial. This time,  the hands received the blue hue making the entire appearance a forever classic.

Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Annual Chronograph

The subdials present the same (most probably stamped) circular pattern and a red hand for the calendar function. The differences in colour and the blued hands offer good legibility with a very traditional look.

Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Moonphase

Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Moonphase

The moonphase version of the series combines ideas from the previous two watch styles: the beautiful vertical arrangement of the time and date with the blue PVD dial of the chrono.

Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Moonphase

The “star” of the show is the moonphase indication integrated in the small seconds subdial. The date is not available anymore, being replaced by the moonphase disc (along with the specific gears). This poetic complication has a strong influence on humans and animals and it was used since antiquity to predict or explain various aspects of life. For example, the word “lunacy” comes exactly from the associations of the moon phases with “strange” behaviour. Centuries-old beliefs (let’s not forget the werewolves, vampires and other mythical creatures were in direct correlation with the Moon cycles) influenced how we perceived the world around us. Some myths were dismounted, some were strengthened by modern medicine and behavioural studies. But it is clear, that Moon has a big influence on the nature around us, and finally us.

Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Moonphase

Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Moonphase White

On the white dial, the moonphase is slightly more spectacular due to the high contrast of the white varnished dial and the blue disc. This time, Ulysse Nardin opted for blue hands (in comparison with the rhodium-plated hands of the time and date version), making this face more attractive. For me, at least.

Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Moonphase

While I cannot correlate my personal sleep or moods to the moon phases, I enjoy this complication simply so. I like to raise my eyes and know when I can find a large moon disc above or complete dark skies. Now, when we are drowned in artificial light and we obstruct our windows, it is clear that the Moon’s light or phases represent a small to none changing factor for people. But before that, before the electricity and industrial era, the Moon was a clear influence. Seeing a bright disc in the night sky was a reason for celebration, or a chance to do something outside otherwise impossible. Fishing and hunting were often tight related. And let’s not forget, that even now, religions link the Moon’s phases with certain important moments (Easter for instance). So it is nice to have on the wrist a representation of the moon itself and how it should appear in the sky.

Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Blue Enamel
Calibre UN 118

Here comes the magic, part two – the movements

Ulysse Nardin uses for these watches in-house designed and produced movements. Being part of the same family, the watches and their movements share similitudes. The most striking one will be the gorgeous rotor. A UN logo medalion is accompanied on each side by an engraved anchor. The rotor itself reminds of an anchor. Note: the rotor is a heavily decorated element on the classic automatic UN watches and it is presented every time in the same theme. In this way, the movements can be easily recognised. Exception from the rule are the new or heavy technical pieces like the Freak or the new line of X-divers. Or, I think a more correct way to say it would be: all the heritage-inspired pieces present this kind of rotor while the modern, future-oriented piece presents a more futuristic one.

Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Panda
Calibre UN 118

Calibre UN 118 Manufacture, present in the time/date watches is a COSC automatic movement. Of course, chronometric certification comes without asking for this collection celebrating the marine chronometric heritage. But being an ultra-modern manufacture, the UN118 benefits from the Silicium balance spring and escapement wheel & anchor in Diamonsil (strengthening the chronometric properties).

Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Annual Chronograph
Calibre UN 153

Besides the circular Geneva waves and the perlage, the Calibre UN 153 offers a bit of spectacularity due to the column-wheel chronograph movement. This adds a new act in the show presented by the caseback of the watch.

Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Annual Chronograph
Calibre UN 153

A nice feature is the annual calendar module developed by Ludwig Oechselin, which is capable of backward/forward setting. The simplicity characteristic of the master watchmaker makes its modules and mechanism highly desirable.

Calibre UN 119
Calibre UN 119

The Ulysse Nardin Calibre UN 119 presents on the backside no difference from the UN 118. The gearing differences for the moonphase are exclusive to the eye of the watchmaker.

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Conclusions

I am deeply impressed and excited by the anniversary pieces. Ulysse Nardin created a gorgeous line of Marine Torpilleur watches celebrating the brand’s 175’s anniversary, a complex and important marine chronometric heritage and technical development. The collection combines the beauty of traditional heritage elements with the ultra-modern silicium, the spectacular grand few enamels with modern physical vapour deposition.

It is hard for me to choose a favourite. My purist mind will go with the enamel dial of the time/date version while the hearth will run for the white dial moonphase. Although, the practical side screams for to the annual calendar. So you see, it is not easy to just choose a watch. But, at least, Ulysse Nardin offers a wide collection to choose from, even a tourbillon.

Congratulation UN for the nice jubilee, for the beautiful collection and looking forward to seeing how this intertwining of traditions and new tech will evolve further.

Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Collection Technical Specifications

Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Blue Enamel

Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Blue Enamel

Reference
1183-310LE 3AE 175/1A (Brown strap)
1183-310LE 3AE 175/1B (Blue strap)

Movement
Calibre UN 118 Manufacture, COSC automatic movement

Functions
Hours , minutes, small seconds, date
Balance spring in Silicium
Escapement wheel & anchor in Diamonsil
260 components / 50 jewels
Frequency 4 Hz / oscillations 28’800 V/H

Case
Stainless steel polished & satin
finish case / fluted bezel
Case back: Open sapphire case back
Diameter 42 mm, height 11.73 mm

Dial
New blue
Grand Feu e namel dial by Donzé Cadrans
Double counters with power reserve indicator at 12 o’clock and small seconds with date at 6 o’clock
“Chronometry since 1846” signature on the small second counter
Rhodium finish hands

Strap
Brown or blue alligator leather strap
Compatible with R STRAP / rubber strap / metal bracelet
Stainless steel deployant buckle

Water-resistance 50 m
Power reserve: 60 hours
Limited edition 175 pieces

Price
10’900 CHF / 10’000 € / 11’500 $

Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Panda

Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Panda

Reference
1183-310LE 0A 175/1A (Brown strap)

Movement
Calibre UN 118 Manufacture, COSC automatic movement

Functions
Hours, minutes, small seconds, date
Balance spring in Silicium
Escapement wheel & anchor in Diamonsil
260 components / 50 jewels
Frequency 4 Hz / oscillations 28’800 V/H

Case
Stainless steel polished & satin finish case / fluted bezel
Case back: Open sapphire case back
Diameter 42 mm, height 11.13 mm

Dial
Varnished Panda dial
Double counters with power reserve indicator at 12 o’clock and small seconds with date at 6 o’clock
“Chronometry since 1846” signature on the small second counter
Rhodium finish hands

Strap
Brown or blue alligator leather strap
Compatible with R-TRAP / rubber strap / metal bracelet
Stainless steel deployant buckle

Water resistance: 50 m
Power reserve: 60 hours
Limited edition 300 pieces

Price
7’800 CHF / 7’200 € / 8’200 $

Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Annual Chronograph

Reference (Blue)
1533-320LE 3A 175/1A (Brown strap)
1533-320LE 3A 175/1B (Blue strap)

Reference (White)
1533-320LE 0A 175/1A (Brown strap)
1533-320LE 0A 175/1B (Blue strap)

Movement
Calibre UN 153 Manufacture, automatic movement

Functions
Hours, minutes, small second, date
Chronograph (H M S) & annual calendar
Escapement wheel , balance spring & anchor in Silicium
406 components / 53 jewels
Frequency 4 Hz / oscillations 28’800 V/H

Case
Stainless steel polished & satin
finish case / fluted bezel
Case back: Open sapphire case back
Diameter 44 mm, height 13.66 mm

Dial
Blue mat PVD dial or white varnished dial with silvered small counters
Chronograph counter at 3 o’clock
Annual calendar and small second at 9 o’clock
“Chronometry since 1846” signature
(B) Rhodium finish and beige coloured hands or (W) blued and red hands

Strap
Brown or blue alligator leather strap
Compatible with R-STRAP
Stainless steel deployant buckle

Water resistance: 50 m
Power reserve: 52 hours

Limited edition
Chronograph blue: 300 pieces
Chronograph white: 300 pieces

Price
11’500 CHF / 10’600 € / 12’100 $

Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Moonphase

Reference (Blue)
1193-310LE 3A 175/1A (Blue strap)
1193-310LE 3A 175/1B (Brown strap)

Reference (White)
1193-310LE 0A 175/1A (Blue strap)
1193-310LE 0A 175/1B (Brown strap)

Movement
Calibre UN 119 Manufacture, COSC automatic movement

Functions
Hours, minutes, small seconds, moonphase
Balance spring in Silicium
Escapement wheel & anchor in Diamonsil
222 components / 45 jewels
Frequency 4 Hz / oscillations 28’800 V/H

Case
Stainless steel polished & satin
finish case / fluted bezel
Case back: Open sapphire case back
Diameter 42 mm, height 11.13 mm

Dial
Blue sun brushed PVD dial or white varnished dial
Double counters with power reserve indicator at 12 o’clock, small seconds and moon disc at 6 o’clock
The star of the night is made of a multi-layer decal that brings a lot of elegance and reflections when reveal on the Starry Sky made of blue PVD.
“Chronometry since 1846” signature on the small second counter
(B) Rhodium finish hands or (W) blued hands

Strap
Brown or blue alligator leather strap
Compatible with R STRAP / rubber strap / metal bracelet
Stainless steel deployant buckle

Water resistance: 50 m
Power reserve: 60 hours

Limited edition
Moonphase blue: 300 pieces
Moonphase white: 300 pieces

Price
9’400 CHF / 8’600 € / 9’900 $

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