We’ve found that rolling out a ’60s-inspired dive watch in 2017 is a pretty surefire way to turn some heads. But when Ulysse Nardin, a brand known for complex regatta timers and Freakish innovations takes the plunge, you really have to stop, think twice, and take a closer look. For 2017, they’ve introduced the Ulysse Nardin Diver Le Locle watch, a straightforward diver with an in-house movement, silicone components, and real vintage vibes. There’s just one question: will it sink or swim in a sea of dive watches positioned in an immensely competitive price bracket? Let’s see.
With so many brands tapping into their archives for vintage reissues these days, the term heritage gets tossed around quite a bit. Unlike many, Ulysse Nardin isn’t bluffing. Founded in 1846, their marine chronometers have seen considerable use in the hands of several world navies, and in 2001, they introduced the first watch to use a silicon escapement. Inspired by a 1964 model, Ulysse Nardin created the Diver Le Locle watch to pay tribute to that maritime heritage while incorporating the latest technology.
At 42mm wide, the Ulysse Nardin Diver Le Locle is moderately sized, which fits well with its vintage aesthetic. Though it’s hard to tell from press images alone, the lugs, while prominent, appear to be in proportion with the rest of the design as well. They’re beveled and display a great deal of polishing that continues throughout the rest of the 100m-water-resistant case. In fact, the entire case is polished – an interesting choice for a tool diver but people will find it attractive nevertheless.
The dial, with the exception of the seconds sub-dial, feels like a blast from the past. It appears to have a deep, matte texture to it that contrasts heavily with the big Super-LumiNova indexes. Like many of these throwback divers, they have a faux patina look to them that really seems to rub people the wrong way more often than not – so have at it in the comments. Other touches include a simple date readout at 3 o’clock, circular cyclops, sapphire crystal with AR coating, and a cool handset with a segmented pattern for the minutes hand. My favorite aspect of this combination is the way it all complements the glossy aluminum bezel and its thick coin-edge pattern.
Powering the Ulysse Nardin Diver Le Locle is the in-house caliber UN-320. It’s where the watch gets most of its modern upgrades and the movement is fitted with both a silicone hairspring and escapement. Power reserve is 48 hours and Ulysse Nardin claims that each movement undergoes a strict certification process upon completion. Finally, the Ulysse Nardin Diver Le Locle comes with a thick sailcloth strap. However, it seems as though it also features a leather back, which in my mind, almost defeats the purpose of a sailcloth strap and diminishes its performance in the water.
There’s no doubt that the Ulysse Nardin Diver Le Locle is a handsome timepiece. But, it’s a tough sell and I think the majority of individuals that’ll be attracted to it might be some pretty hardcore Ulysse Nardin fans to begin with or enthusiasts looking for something totally different altogether. Now, whether the in-house movement paired with silicone tech in a vintage-inspired diver is worth the price tag is totally up to the buyer but this watch is going to have some pretty stiff competition. Price for the Ulysse Nardin Diver Le Locle watch is $9,600. ulysse-nardin.com