I recall the first time that I saw the Executive Dual Time watch. I was visiting Ulysse Nardin at a watch trade show and saw some models I hadn't yet familiarized myself with being displayed. Clearly they were UN watches but they didn't really have that typical UN look many people associate with the brand. "Executive" in the name seemed to hint that UN wanted these watches to be aimed at business types looking for a solid daily wear. The construction was impressive and I couldn't get over that super legible dial - but did I like the watch?
After spending some time with a Ulysse Nardin Executive Dual Time watch I can easily say that I do in-fact really like the watch. At first I wasn't sure, but the piece really grew on me in a serious way - thanks in most part to a combination of factors including the movement, legibility and quality. I still don't know how it fits into the overall DNA of the Ulysse Nardin product family and frankly I don't even care. Ulysse Nardin is an independent watch maker - and they can design and release whatever they like without making sure it fits into some prescribed mold.
This specific Executive Dual Time watch is the reference # 243-00/42. Look online and you'll find a seriously intense assortment of styles in the collection. The steel (also available in 18k rose gold) case is 43mm wide and has a very broad lug structure and strap. This makes it feel larger on the wrist while not looking like a big watch. 43mm wide not considered too large today and the mostly round case with thick bezel keeps it from looking at all large on the wrist. The bezel mind you is black ceramic. Here the material is used properly to add color, shine, and of course ceramic's high level of scratch resistance.
Ulysse Nardin did a good job making the case interesting, but not too strange. Completely polished, the finishing is well-done and the little details on the case prevent it from being boring. The proprietary strap connection on the lugs forces you to buy only Ulysse Nardin straps, but you could argue it is worth the unique look. It is even easy to appreciate the detailing put into the crown guard and the crown with its applied UN logo. On the other side of the case are two ceramic pushers and a serial number plate. While this is not a limited edition watch, Ulysse Nardin likes to personalize each piece with a plate containing its unique serial number.
I am impressed that the Executive Dual Time has a water resistance of 100 meters. That isn't incredibly high or anything, but more than I would have expected in this style of watch. Over the dial is a sapphire crystal with the proper amount of AR coating to prevent as much glare as is possible. Another sapphire crystal is over the case back to show the movement.
Dial legibility, as I said, is very good. One of the key pluses of the collection in my opinion. On this model, the dial is a glossy black with a mixture of applied and printed hour markers. UN properly used diamond cut and polished hour markers and hands to create a high level of contrast but also retain that fancy sparkle people want from polished metal. At anything over $1,000 these days, brands have little excuse to not use diamond cut elements for the dials. Demand "diamond cut" people.
Design-wise, the dial has that large rectangular minute indicator with round subsidiary seconds dial, and other elements that don't seem to go together on paper. This seemingly random assortment of design cues from brands like Cartier and Roger Dubuis actually made sense together - but perhaps not at first. Like I said, I wasn't sold on the dial design of the watch until after I had lived with it for a while. Now I truly appreciate the combination of elegance and functionality. The dial does have lume, but not a whole lot. Quality SuperLumiNova is used in part on the hands and some hour markers on the inner scale. Having said that, the high contrast dial by itself is easy to read in the dark without the lume.
So what about the dual time function? Ulysse Nardin released this system apparently back in 1996, and it still remains a strong module the brand manufactures. Inside this watch is the caliber UN-24 automatic movement. This is composed of a modified base Swiss ETA 2892 automatic movement. On it is a special Ulysse Nardin module which adds a big date indicator and the second time zone. What impresses me about the UN-24 are two things. First, the movement works really smoothly. You get the feeling that all the kinks were worked out of the movement long ago and making adjustments feels secure and controlled. Sometimes movements feel as though they are barely working and that development was rushed - not here though.
A feature on the date adjustment that you'll appreciate is the ability to adjust the date both backwards and forwards. Trust me - this is a good thing. The dual time feature is indicated via a window that shows the time in 24 hour format. This is the same as a GMT function, but it uses a disc versus GMT hand to indicate the second timezone. When you adjust the time via the crown, both times change. The trick is in the two pushers on the left side of the case - these are used to change the local time (main dial) both forward and back in time. The result is an easy to read, easy to adjust GMT watch for traveling. The pushers even have handy plus and minus symbols on them. The ability to move the date and time zone in both directions shows a dedication to the user experience that is actually a bit rare in this industry.
More than many watches, the Executive Dial Time watch received a fair number of compliments while on my wrist. I guess it does have a nice "executive" look to it. The strap is available in both textured rubber and alligator. The double-fold over push-button deployant is made from smooth polished metal in a style I've never seen before. Even that element has a lot of attention put into it. Overall, it is the many small details that make this a good watch. I glowingly praise it to anyone who might benefit from its functions and can see this handsome watch sitting on their wrist. As seen, the retail price for the Ulysse Nardin Executive Dual Time watch is $8,700.