Tracing their history to 1846, modern timepieces from Ulysse Nardin have featured impressive technology and a wide range of styles – the Ulysse Nardin Grand Deck Marine Tourbillon next to any of their Freak watches couldn’t be more different. One thread running through the brand’s current creations and connecting them to their heritage, however, is a nautical theme. Among releases for SIHH 2017 is the Ulysse Nardin Marine Regatta watch which truly gets to the heart of maritime sport timing. It easily proves itself to be both mechanically interesting and rugged enough for use in the field – the timepiece was, in fact, developed with the guidance of Loïck Peyron and Iain Percy, two ambassadors of the brand and members of the Artemis Racing team.
The regatta timer functions are split between smaller central sub-dials and are displayed in bright yellow on both the blue and white dial variants. It’s visually inspiring and reminiscent of classic Ulysse Nardin design, but it’s also purposeful, which is everything a regatta timer should be. I was pleased to see that the Ulysse Nardin Marine Regatta watch is available in two dial colors. One thing to note here is that the yellow just pops a little more on the blue dial Ref. 1553-155-3/43 that has a deep sunburst effect to it and is lined with large polished Roman numerals, which would be my choice if I had to pick a favorite.
The case of the Ulysse Nardin Marine Regatta watch is sized at 44mm in diameter and provides 100m of water-resistance. The variety of brushed and polished surfaces worked into the stainless steel case results in a look that walks a fine line between sport and elegance. While it’s true that most wearers probably won’t even come close to anything resembling 100m, I couldn’t help but wish that they would’ve just bumped the water resistance up to 200m, which is pretty standard on most watches you usually associate with ocean sports. If that would require the sacrifice of the exhibition caseback, though, it isn’t a tradeoff I’d want to see. The bezel has a deeply notched design and offers an aggressive look that matches with the chunky pushers and the black rubberized screw-down crown. The watch features both anti-reflective sapphire crystal and sapphire case-back.
Some of the most critical moments in yachting actually occur before the race begins. The crew must carefully time their position while considering wind direction, avoiding their opponents, and placing the vessel as close to the imaginary starting point as possible. When the precise time interval is determined, a regatta timer will then essentially operate as a reverse chronograph, which counts down until the exact point in time at which the race will begin. Whoever uses their time the best, will place closest and lead with the best start possible. The Ulysse Nardin Marine Regatta’s timer can be set anywhere between 1 and 10 minutes. What’s unique about this model, though, is the inclusion of an inverter mechanism, which kicks into gear as soon as the countdown is over and then begins to track time as a traditional chronograph.
The movement powering it all is the UN-155. It’s an in-house caliber made up of 650 components with a power reserve of 3 days. Perhaps the most technically impressive aspect is the way the inverter mechanism functions to allow the seconds hand to operate in bi-directional harmony. It’s also a true column-wheel chronograph operating at 28,800vph with automatic winding and refinements like a silicon escapement. Moving back to the case, you’ll notice that the lugs protrude out quite a bit before curving down aggressively. This ensures a snug fit and they integrate perfectly with the supplied strap fitted with a secure titanium folding buckle. While I’m not usually a fan of rubber straps, this one appears highly durable and manages to complement the sportiness and complexity of the dial.
The Ulysse Nardin Marine Regatta is easily one of my favorite watches announced at SIHH 2017. It’s a blend of the technical finesse Ulysse Nardin is known for, action-inspired design, and true purpose-built functionality. Is it going to be the first choice for someone looking to find a beater watch for their next race? Probably not. But the Ulysse Nardin Marine Regatta can certainly get the job done and exceeds every benchmark that was set for it along the way. While many of these sold might not even find themselves close to a body of water, I just can’t help but wonder how cool it would be to use it in practice at an actual race. The Ulysse Nardin Marine Regatta is available in both white or blue dial options and is priced at 15,900 CHF. ulysse-nardin.com