Photos by David Bredan

When Ulysse Nardin unveiled the latest generation of Diver X watches earlier this year in coordination with World Ocean’s Day, I’ll admit, I didn’t pay particularly close attention. I wrote it off as another colorway in the brand’s collection of dive watches capitalizing on the current popularity of light blue. While this isn’t a totally incorrect assumption, the latest iteration is a particularly appealing combination that feels right on a dive watch.

The Diver X Skeleton Azure has a bold identity that is distinctly modern. It hovers between overwhelming and having just the right amount of detail to keep you staring. The 44mm wide DLC-coated titanium case ensures a lightweight wearing experience amplified by the skeleton construction’s airiness. However, despite its lightweight wearing experience, there is no hiding the 15.7mm thickness when viewed from the side — but this isn’t the kind of watch you wear to hide under a cuff. Paired with a screw-down crown and screw-mounted caseback, the Diver X Skeleton is rated to 200 meters of water resistance. Far more than most wearers will likely need.

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A design and construction highlight of the Diver X is its Carbonium bezel insert and mainspring barrel cover. Carbonium is a carbon fiber composite with 40% less environmental impact than other carbon composites. The swirling bezel insert brings a softer touch to an otherwise aggressive design. The numerals are engraved and luminous as is the graduation marking up to twenty minutes for precise elapsed time tracking.

The dial — or lack thereof — features the Diver X signature “X” with a dual satin, polished surface, and black DLC coating. Fully polished DLC-coated hands bearing white luminous material stand proudly over the “X” and, despite having nearly identical finishing, are surprisingly legible. The white luminous infill provides enough contrast with the dial but occasionally blends in with the silver-tone finish of the exposed movement. However, if at a glance legibility is your number one priority, I’d suggest checking out the non-skeletonized variant of this watch.

The UN-372 Manufacture movement is almost fully displayed through front and rear sapphire crystals. The arrangement of this movement allows for easy viewing of the keyless works (the mechanism that allows operation of the watch through a crown) at 3 o’clock, beautifully finishing gear trains, and the oversized silicon balance wheel (with its flyweights) actively beating away at 21,600 vph at 6 o’clock. A colorless synthetic ruby is used as the pivot jewel of the balance, which I thoroughly enjoy. This also allows the vibrant blue color found on the dial, strap, bezel, seconds hands, and polymer crown guards to truly shine.

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Skeletonized watches always come with two primary problems. The first is the limited legibility I mentioned above. The second is the often unappealing look of your skin through the watch. This is still present, however, the black DLC winding rotor features a large X motif which aids in covering these fleshy windows. The matte-finished X-shaped bridge structure of the movement can be fully appreciated when viewed from the back and shows how much the rotor interferes with the ability to look completely through the watch.

On the wrist, despite the hefty 15mm+ thickness, the Ulysse Nardin Diver X Skeleton Azure wears surprisingly well. The angular lugs provide an ample amount of “lug hug,” sitting low to the wrist. The fitted rubber strap paired with a brushed, DLC-coated, titanium pivot link and matching deployant clasp ensures the watch stays on the top of your wrist and eliminates the discomfort that can come with thick stiff rubber straps. While the additional branding on the link is something I would be happy to see removed, its presence is altogether unobtrusive during normal wear.

When it comes to luxury dive watches there are nearly endless choices, and often you can’t go wrong. The concept is tried and true with designs rarely straying off the beaten path. The Ulysse Nardin Diver X Skeleton Azure fits the dive watch mold at base specs and goes above and beyond when it comes to personal and horological style. Is this the first watch I would choose if I was going diving? Surely not — but it is more than capable of doing the job, and it’s not the same run-of-the-mill luxury dive watch found in every office on Wall Street. In fact, with this particular color scheme, it would look and feel right at home on a beach or boat with a tropical beverage in hand, which is exactly where I would like to wear it.

The combination of a stunning skeletonized movement, lightweight titanium case, and unique Carbonium accents doesn’t come cheap. The Ulysse Nardin Diver X Skeleton Azure is priced at $26,400 USD. Learn more about this watch and the brand at the Ulysse Nardin website.

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