It has been nearly three years since I first wrote about this Ulysse Nardin Marine Mega Yacht watch here on aBlogtoWatch. So much has happened since then, and it feels like a world away from where we are now, both in terms of the wristwatch industry and our collective demeanor. In some ways, I appreciate the artistry and extravagance of such a timepiece even more now, and in other ways, as a whole, we are asking more fundamental questions about the role of high-end toys like “mega watches” in the context of a world where the separation between “haves” and “have-nots” is all the greater. But you know where precious little of that conversation probably occurs? Aboard yachts.
Indeed, one of the most interesting luxuries afforded to the ultra-wealthy who own their own boats over the last two years was the relative ability to be isolated from the pandemic. With some safeguards of course, a group of people could live at sea in comfortable accommodations protected from the pandemic, which has touched each and every civilized place on earth. The luxury to be isolated in your own floating mansion is something that few people talked about previously at boat shows, but today, I am sure it is a critical part of the sales pitch. Swiss watchmaker Ulysse Nardin has long participated in the grandiose world of boating and the people who enjoy it. For years, the brand participated at major marine events such as the Monaco and Miami boat shows. The company has produced numerous wristwatches and decorative clocks for yacht fans, stemming from the company’s history as an important producer of marine chronometer navigation clocks.
Practical history aside, the Ulysse Nardin Marine Mega Yacht has a serious look to it but is all about fun. This is one of the rare high-end whimsical watches that fans love from Ulysse Nardin and is very much a celebration not so much of the brand’s illustrious past, but its modern history starting with brand-revitalizer Rolf Schnyder who began the brand’s legacy of making “crazy watches.” The watch comes in two limited edition forms – each produced as a limited edition of 30 pieces. That includes the pictured platinum version as the reference 6319-305 and also the 18k rose gold-cased reference 6312-305.
The Marine Mega Yacht begins with a larger Ulysse Nardin Marine-style case that here is 44mm wide and indeed on the thicker side at 15mm (there is a lot going on with the movement and dial). The case is water resistant to 50 meters and in most respects it represents the core Marine-style case from the brand (which mostly houses more traditional movements and dial displays). One interesting deviation from the standard Marine case is a side-oriented sapphire crystal window on the right side of the case near where the crown is located. This is a view to a function selector, which indicates whether the crown is in winding, moon/tide, or time-setting mode. A fun detail, indeed.
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The heavy solid-platinum case of this particular Marine Mega Yacht is wearable if worn snug on the wrist, doable with the comfortable glossy blue alligator strap. The entire point of the watch is to serve as a frame for the dial and the in-house Ulysse Nardin mechanical movement that powers it. The first thing you should notice about the dial is that it appears to represent the end of a ship, complete with a spinning propeller and a lowering anchor. The dial artistry includes traditional baked enamel in blue that represents the water in which the boat sits. The organic look of baked blue enamel offers a visual texture not unlike peering into water. One of the best details is around the hull of the ship, which is a light blue designed to replicate the experience of seeing some of the boat’s outline under the water, just like you’d see some submerged land if it were closer to the surface.
On the dial, the visual complications are a mixture of whimsical elements and functional tools. The in-house Ulysse Nardin caliber UN-631 indicates the time with the subsidiary seconds displayed on the spinning propeller-shaped tourbillon cage located at 6 o’clock on the dial. To its right is the lowering and rising anchor that serves as the power reserve indicator. The manually wound movement has 80 hours of power reserve (operating at 3Hz), and the anchor indicator moves up and down on a small chain. More so, a complicated set of conical gears and rods is used to transfer power from the main movement to the anchor complication, making for an even grander and more rewarding visual experience when viewing the dial.
The other complications presented on the dial are a combination of moon phase and tide indicator. The former element uses a realistic sphere of the moon with a darkened side that elegantly sits near the related visual tide chart. To the bottom of the moon phase indicator is a turning drum-style indicator which is a verbal indicator of whether the tide is going up or down. While less relevant to larger boats as I understand it, understanding the tides and their current status is crucial for many boating operations. I believe that such a complication is linked to a particular city. That means if you are traveling with such a mechanism and care about the accuracy of the tidal information, it might need to be adjusted when you travel to each new port.
More so, I really admire the visual logic around how Ulysse Nardin designed the combo moonphase/tide indicator since the moon is responsible for a lot of tidal activity. It is also a set of complications that makes sense on a boat-themed watch and an intellectual balance to offset the playfulness of the flying tourbillon propeller and detailed anchor and chain power reserve indicator system. Not everyone is going to like the look or even theme of the Marine Mega Yacht, given its polarizing theme and price point. That said, the execution is simply wonderful and to me, this is a gorgeous combination of art, craftsmanship, horology, luxury, and miniature model-making expertise. Price for the limited edition of 30 pieces Ulysse Nardin reference 6319-305 Marine Mega Yacht watch in platinum is $310,000 USD. Learn more at the Ulysse Nardin website here.