November 15, 2012
by Ariel Adams
One watch that I certainly didn’t want to miss discussing in 2012 is the new range of Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronometer Manufacture watches. Upped in size and details, the Marine Chronometer Manufacture watches also contain the long awaited in-house made Ulysse Nardin calibre UN-118 automatic movement. While these are not rapid departures from the existing Marine collection, they are handsome watches with good movements and a character that has never before been more “Ulysse Nardin.”
The story of the UN-118 automatic movement is rather long. Finished a while ago, the movement experienced some production delays due to the complexity of industrialization. While Ulysse Nardin is not a stranger to producing movements or movement modules, the UN-118 was to be their first in-house made “more basic” movement that was produced in more than just small quantities.
The caliber UN-118 (aka “UN118”, or “118”) uses technology from company Sigatec that Ulysse Nardin purchased. Sigatec produces something they call DIAMonSIL, which is quite literally diamond on silicon. Diamond-coated silicon vastly upgrades the durability and longevity of silicon watch parts – which can be actually quite fragile. With the lubrication-free properties of silicon and the strength of the diamond coating, the DIAMonSIL parts such as the escapement are very hardy. On the automatic rotor of the 118 movements you’ll find a DIAMonSIL logo.
What you see in the pictures are both the standard and limited edition versions of the Marine Chronometer Manufacture. Ulysse Nardin wanted to create a more exclusive model to showcase the new movement. The Limited edition version has a white enamel dial, as well as an engraved gold automatic rotor. You’ll also notice that the limited edition version comes in a hefty 18k rose gold case (with optional bracelet). Unlike the standard Marine Chronometer Manufacture watch, the limited edition version has a “UN 118” label on the dial. Detailing is pleasing, and of course the whole point of the Marine collection of watches is to have a dial that looks like traditional marine chronometer ship clocks.
From a complication standpoint, the UN 118 movements offer what you’ve come to expect from the collection with the time, subsidiary seconds dial, date, and power reserve indicator. The movement has 60 hours of power reserve and wouldn’t be called a “Chronometer” if it was not COSC certified. Size-wise, the Marine Chronometer Manufacture is a size upgrade from the non in-house movement models. These new watches are a solid 45mm wide, but don’t necessarily wear that large due to the style of the lugs and thickness of the bezel and flange ring.
Details from the piece’s quasi-dive watch heritage are there as the Marine Chronometer manufacture has 200 meters of water resistance and elements like a rubber coated crown for easy grip. Style-wise there is that typical Ulysse Nardin quirkiness which on the standard models is something you probably didn’t expect compared to the most classic limited edition dial with its painted roman numerals. The standard pieces get larger applied Roman numeral hour indicators and dive-style hands – which is a unique combo that is likely to grow on you. Luminant is placed on the hands as well as the flange ring on all models except the limited edition with its enamel dial.
I like that Ulysse Nardin retained the magnifier lens over the date window. These are less and less common these days but I still like them in many instances. The Marine Chronometer Manufacture watches will have at least three strap options with cases in both 18k rose gold as well as titanium mixed with rose gold. There is also a titanium cased model with a steel bezel. Strap options include the iconic Ulysse Nardin rubber dive-style straps with the metal links, as well as alligator straps and full gold or titanium and steel bracelets. While the prices for the all gold limited edition model is as high (given the material) as $36,800, the standard Ulysse Nardin Marine Manufacture watches range from $10,400 – $17,800 which isn’t too bad.