Geneva Watch Days has already witnessed many exciting releases like the return of the Gerald Genta Mickey Mouse and H. Moser & Cie’s cool new Streamliner Perpetual Calendar, so what do marine chronometry specialists Ulysse Nardin have hidden up their sleeves? Well, seven new and updated watches in their Marine Torpilleur collection should do it.
The Marine Torpilleur range, which was first revealed in 2017, takes Ulysse Nardin back to their roots because they’re the watches that most closely relate to the Naval Chronometers that made the brand’s name when they emerged in 1846. High precision instruments that helped create reliable means of marine navigation. These days the brand is better known for their crazy haute horology and models like the Freak, so it’s nice to see them giving other collections a little love.
Each of the seven watches adds a slight twist to the core collection that make for interesting adaptations, first up it’s the Marine Torpilleur Blue Enamel.
Marine Torpilleur Blue Enamel
As its name suggests, this watch is a basic version of the Marine Torpilleur, with the classic small seconds subdial as 6 o’clock and a power reserve indicator at 12, reimagined with an enamel dial. The Grand Feu enamel is produced by Ulysse Nardin’s in-house enamel workshop Donzé Cadrans and provides a lovely deep shade of blue for the watch’s backdrop.
The smooth texture really lets the iconic features of the Marine Torpilleur collection stand out, such as the fluted bezel, roman numerals and cathedral hands. While it’s just a change in dial material from the core collection, it makes a big difference to the feel of the watch and I love it.
Ref: 1183-310LE-3AE-175/1A (brown strap), 1183-310LE-3AE-175/1B (blue strap) | Case/dial: 42mm diameter x 11.73mm height, stainless steel case, blue Grand Feu enamel dial by Donzé Cadrans | Water resistance: 50m | Movement: Calibre UN-118 Manufacture, automatic, COSC-certified Chronometer, 50 jewels, 260 parts | Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz) | Power reserve: 60h | Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, date, power reserve indicator at 12 o’clock | Strap: Brown or blue alligator leather | Price: £9,540, limited to 175 pieces each, more details at Ulysse Nardin.
Marine Torpilleur Panda
There is also a second version with a more traditional veneer dial that swaps the completely blue colouration for a two-tone white and blue scheme that Ulysse Nardin are calling a Panda dial. I question if panda is the right name, but hey if a panda can have three eyes on a tricompax dial then why not this as well. Regardless, it is a cool variation on the classic design.
Housed inside both the Blue Enamel and Panda is the COSC certified UN-118 automatic movement, which is a staple of the collection. The 60-hour power reserve means you shouldn’t have trouble counting the countless seconds that make up a naval voyage.
Ref: 1183-310LE-0A-175/1A (brown strap) | Case/dial: 42mm diameter x 11.13mm height, stainless steel case, varnished panda dial | Water resistance: 50m | Movement: Calibre UN-118 Manufacture, automatic, COSC-certified Chronometer, 50 jewels, 260 parts | Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz) | Power reserve: 60h | Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, date, power reserve indicator at 12 o’clock | Strap: Brown or blue alligator leather | Price: £6,830, limited to 300 pieces each, more details at Ulysse Nardin.
Marine Torpilleur Annual Chronograph
Ulysse Nardin have a habit of slipping every possible subdial function onto the Marine Torpilleur and this expansion to the collection includes a fusion between an annual calendar and a chronograph. It has a bi-compax chronograph layout with one subdial as a 30-minute timer and the other showing the months and doubling as the small seconds. It’s also available with a blue or white dial.
I’ve never been a fan of doubling the seconds and months because it severely limits the legibility of the piece, which is such an important aspect of the watch. They kind of get away with it on older models but here it feels like they prioritised the ‘Chronograph Annual Calendar 1846’ inscription over the functionality of the watch. On the whole, it’s only a small gripe but I’d definitely opt for the Blue Enamel over this.
It houses the UN-153 movement, an update to the UN-150 with a 52-hour power reserve. All the models in this expanded collection feature silicon escapements for improved magnetic field resistance, which boosts precision.
Ref: 1533-320LE-3A-175/1A (brown strap, blue dial), 1533-320LE-3A-175/1B (blue strap, blue dial), 1533-320LE-0A-175/1A (brown strap, white dial), 1533-320LE-0A-175/1B (blue strap, white dial) | Case/dial: 42mm diameter x 13.66mm height, stainless steel case, blue mat PVD dial or white varnished dial | Water resistance: 50m | Movement: Calibre UN-153 Manufacture, automatic, 53 jewels, 406 parts | Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz) | Power reserve: 52h | Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds and annual calendar chronograph counter at 9 o’clock, annual calendar, chronograph counter at 3 o’clock, date | Strap: Brown or blue alligator leather | Price: £10,100, limited to 300 pieces per colour, more details at Ulysse Nardin.
Marine Torpilleur Moonphase
Instantly I prefer this to the Annual Chronograph, maybe it’s just the dial layout, there’s something more distinctive about the vertical arrangement and mismatched sizes that’s more characterful and intriguing than a standard bi-compax.
The long and the short of this limited edition is that the large subdial at 6 o’clock features a moonphase, which has always been associated with marine arenas due to the moon’s connection to tides. True, it also has an integrated small seconds over the top of it but it seems less gratuitous here as moonphases are much less reliant on instant legibility.
Inside is the calibre UN-119, which has a high 60-hour power reserve. And that features in both the white and blue dial variants
Ref: 1193-310LE-3A-175/1A (blue strap, blue dial), 1193-310LE-3A-175/1B (brown strap, blue dial), 1193-310LE-0A-175/1A (blue strap, white dial), 1193-310LE-0A-175/1B (brown strap, white dial) | Case/dial: 42mm diameter x 11.13mm height, stainless steel case, blue sun brushed PVD dial or white varnished dial | Water resistance: 50m | Movement: Calibre UN-119 Manufacture, automatic, COSC-certified Chronometer, 45 jewels, 222 parts | Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz) | Power reserve: 60h | Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, moonphase, power reserve indicator at 12 o’clock | Strap: Brown or blue alligator leather | Price: £8,260, limited to 300 pieces per colour, more details at Ulysse Nardin.
Marine Torpilleur Tourbillon Grand Feu
Last up is the most extravagant and unique of the new models, the Tourbillon Grand Feu. Just looking at it you can see that it’s flashier, swapping the steel 42mm case for a rose gold one and completely altering the aesthetics of the dial by using black Grand Feu enamel.
The enamel is produced at the same workshop as the Blue Enamel and is as nice as you’d expect, the only thing that could make it even better is a slight fumé effect around the edges. As is, combined with the richer colour of the gold it gives a more serious and sumptuous impression to the whole watch. To lean into the nautical flavour, this is very much the captain’s edition.
At 6 o’clock, instead of a small seconds, there’s a flying tourbillon. Tourbillons are a haute horological development designed to reduce the impact of gravity on a movement when in a vertical position. Any possible edge that can improve accuracy while navigating is vital and as such they’re a staple on many marine chronometers.
Specifically, the tourbillon here is part of the UN-128 constant escapement tourbillon movement, an automatic calibre which won the 2015 GPHG (Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève) in the tourbillon category. So, its quality is hard to match. Just be warned it comes with a hefty price jump, which is saying something when the rest of the new watches average out at close to £10,000…
Ref: 1282-310LE-2AE-175/1A | Case/dial: 42mm diameter x 11.93mm height, rose gold case,black Grand Feu enamel dial by Donzé Cadrans | Water resistance: 50m | Movement: Calibre UN-128 Manufacture, automatic, 36 jewels, 208 parts | Frequency: 18,000 vph (2.5 Hz) | Power reserve: 60h | Functions: Hours, minutes, flying tourbillon with Ulysse Anchor Escapement (constant) / blades technology, power reserve indicator | Strap: Black alligator leather | Price: £40,240, limited to 175 pieces, more details at Ulysse Nardin.
Learn more about the Marine Torpilleur collection at Ulysse Nardin’s website.