Ulysse Nardin has a long, rich history in and relationship with marine exploration and transport – the brand first gained fame thanks to its highly accurate (for their time) marine chronometers. While modern ships have more complex, electronic timekeeping instruments, the romance of the idea is continued in many forms, such as Ulysse Nardin sponsoring the annual Monaco Yacht Show. To celebrate the 9th anniversary of this sponsorship, the brand has launched a limited edition watch – the Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronometer Annual Calendar Monaco.
Based off the brand’s well-known staple and their modern interpretation of a marine chronometer for the wrist, the watch also has the added functionality of an annual calendar. An annual calendar is best thought of as the perpetual calendar’s younger (and more affordable) brother. The complication can track and account for months with 30 or 31 days, which means you would only have to adjust the date once a year at the end of February – provided you wear it the entire year or store it in a winder.
Over the years, Ulysse Nardin has, with the help of Ludwig Oechslin, developed a reputation for making movements that provide rare or complex complications but with surprisingly few additional components. While Ludwig Oechslin takes this concept of minimalism and simplification to an extreme with his own brand Ochs Und Junior, his fingerprints are all over the mechanics of this watch as well.
The caliber UN-113 automatic movement has only 7 additional parts over its time and date only movement cousin. An average annual calendar movement usually requires an additional 30+ components. This is quite a mechanical achievement when you consider those numbers. The primary motivation behind making movements and complications simpler is to make them more accessible to more collectors (fewer components equals lower costs and lower prices) and to ensure longevity and reliability as the fewer parts present, the less something can go wrong.
The caliber UN-113 provides 60 hours of power reserve while beating at 28,800bph. Each movement is COSC-certified and has a silicon escapement for improved timekeeping. The movement is, of course, visible through a display back. Another useful feature of the movement is that the date can be adjusted both forwards and backwards. Annual calendars and perpetual calendars that cannot adjust the date backwards using the crown alone can be quite annoying in use if you tend to fly (or sail) around the world a lot.
The steel case of the Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronometer Annual Calendar is similar to the other variants with a large 43mm diameter and a fluted bezel. The crown has a rubber covering, which can be a nuisance to replace should it wear down over time, but does improve the ergonomics. With a 100m water resistance rating, it’s definitely swim-friendly for when you want to jump off your yacht.
The dial of the Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronometer Annual Calendar Monaco is understandably a busy one, but for the primary purpose of telling what hour and minute it is, it does a great job thanks to a white lacquered dial and large Roman markers painted a deep, rich blue. All the hands except the month indicator are blued and there is even some Super-LumiNova on the hour and minute hands to improve legibility in low-light. At the top of the dial is the power reserve indicator and while it is well executed, I think it could’ve been left out given how complicated this dial was destined to get. A power reserve indicator on an automatic watch isn’t as functional as on a hand-wound one.
At 6:00 is the date, month, and running seconds indicator. The date is shown with the help of a date window and a wheel underneath. The circular window fits in much better than a traditional rectangular one. In some of the close-up images, you will notice that the date and the month of September are in blue while the remaining months are in black to signify the dates of the 2017 Monaco Yacht Show, which are September 27–30. So those four dates are also blue, while all the rest are in black.
The Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronometer Annual Calendar will be produced in a limited run of 100 watches, and instead of engraving “Limited Edition” on the caseback as usual, Ulysse Nardin has incorporated a metal plaque into the rubber strap with these words engraved. That’s going to be an expensive, possibly hard-to-find, replacement item down the road. Overall, the watch offers interesting mechanics and is a great-looking chronometer-inspired design. The Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronometer Annual Calendar is available from boutiques and retailers for 9,900 CHF. ulysse-nardin.com