Ulysse Nardin Marine Annual Calendar Chronograph

An Annual Liaison – Angus Davies reviews the Ulysse Nardin Marine Annual Calendar Chronograph

The Ulysse Nardin Marine Annual Calendar Chronograph cleverly blends simplicity and complexity to create a very user-friendly watch.

Ulysse Nardin Marine Annual Calendar Chronograph

Several years ago I watched a romantic film which featured two characters who were former lovers who had agreed to meet once per annum in the same place at the same time. The story showed the path their lives took during the intervening months. However, irrespective of what happened in the months in between, they always had an annual liaison.

I was reminded of this film, when I received the Ulysse Nardin Marine Annual Calendar Chronograph for evaluation. Despite being subjected to various environments throughout a 12 month period, there is one act which always takes place once per annum, namely adjusting the date of the watch.

An annual calendar has the mechanical intellect to know which months contain 30 days and those featuring 31 days. At the end of each month, the date display jumps to ‘1’ and the month display advances. The only exception to this is February when the wearer has to intervene and adjust the date manually. This is the annual liaison between the wearer and the watch.

Ulysse Nardin has an innate skill at making user-friendly annual calendars. The date can be adjusted both forwards and backwards without fear of harm to the movement. All adjustments can be made using merely the crown. Perhaps most surprisingly, despite the complexity of an annual calendar, Ulysse Nardin has managed to add just seven extra parts to its existing Marine Chronograph to make this impressively complicated timepiece. Indeed, Ulysse Nardin has fused both complexity and simplicity in one watch.

The dial

Curvaceous hour and minute hands float over a sea of white lustrous enamel. Ulysse Nardin’s sister company Donzé Cadrans is responsible for making the Grand Feu enamel dial. One benefit of this type of dial is that it has an intrinsic permanence, not fading with the passage of time. Each hour is denoted with elongated Roman numerals and the flange is adorned with a blue chapter ring and triangular shaped markers.

Ulysse Nardin Marine Annual Calendar Chronograph

Two subdials populate the dial. At 3 o’clock, a 30-minute chronograph register resides. Positioned at 9 o’clock is a subdial combining both a small seconds and a month display. Each subdial sits slightly below the epidermis of the dial and features a stippled surface. The bi-compax arrangement of the subdials accords a wonderful symmetry and balance.

The date display at 6 o’clock is magnified via a lens affixed to the underside of the sapphire crystal.  The font size of each date value on the date disc is tailored to provide the optimal ease of read-off. It is clear that Ulysse Nardin has looked at every detail very closely when creating this timepiece.

Luminescent treatment is applied to the hands, aiding legibility. In fact, readability is a key strength of this timepiece.

The case

The steel, 43mm case appears larger when worn, but does not suffer any behemoth traits which could preclude wearer comfort. The height of the case is circa 15mm (not specified by Ulysse Nardin) which grants the watch great wrist presence.

Ulysse Nardin Marine Annual Calendar Chronograph

The appearance of the lugs is unusual, sidestepping the customary twin arm outline for an integrated one section design. The timepiece is supplied with a blue, textured leather strap paired with a stainless steel folding clasp.

A fluted surround graces the bezel, imploring the wearer to explore its tactile form. A cartouche is affixed to the case proclaiming the serial number of the watch.

Ulysse Nardin Marine Annual Calendar Chronograph

Each chronograph push-piece is adorned with rubber. Pressing the push-pieces rewards the wearer with a pleasingly positive action and does not necessitate much physical effort when actuating the stopwatch function. Moreover, when resetting the chronograph, the central chronograph hand returns to zero and immediately stops at noon, free of any wobble.

Ulysse Nardin Marine Annual Calendar Chronograph

The screw down crown is covered with dark blue rubber. Positioned either side of the crown are protectors, mitigating the risk of damage to the crown and its winding stem.

Gracing the reverse of the watch is a pane of sapphire crystal affording views of the self-winding movement within.

The movement

Ulysse Nardin has showcased its independent expertise with the UN-153. This movement was designed in-house and features a state of the art silicon escapement and hairspring.

Ulysse Nardin Marine Annual Calendar Chronograph

The balance oscillates at a frequency of 28,800 VpH (4Hz) and the movement contains 53 jewels. The power-reserve is approximately 52 hours.

The oscillating mass is partially open-worked. It features the Ulysse Nardin logo and is adorned with a frosted, textured surface. The bridges are decorated with circular Côtes de Genève motif and there are numerous blued screws in evidence, doffing their hat to watchmaking tradition.

There is a ubiquitous sense of quality with this movement and affirmation, not that it is needed, that Ulysse Nardin is an exemplar of fine watchmaking.

Closing remarks

The Grand Feu enamel exhibits a sumptuous appearance and the stippled surface of the subdials is most becoming. The bi-compax topography of the dial delivers a very seemly symmetry. Each indication is highly legible. Quite simply, the dial is easy to read and devilishly handsome.

Where this watch particularly excels is that it takes a complex complication such as the annual calendar and simplifies it. There are no correctors in the case-band which require tools, everything is adjustable merely with the crown. Moreover, there is no need to wear kid gloves when adjusting the date or month, a simple twist of the crown in either direction is sufficient.

Irrespective of what the Ulysse Nardin Marine Annual Calendar Chronograph witnesses during the year, only one annual liaison is needed with the crown to adjust the date.

Technical specifications

  • Model: Ulysse Nardin Marine Annual Calendar Chronograph
  • Reference: 1533-150/E0
  • Case: Stainless steel; diameter 43mm; water resistant to 10 bar (100 metres); sapphire crystal to front and sapphire caseback.
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds; date; month; chronograph
  • Movement: Caliber UN-153; self-winding movement; frequency 28,800 VpH (4Hz); 53 jewels; power reserve circa 52 hours
  • Strap: Blue leather strap with steel folding clasp
  • Price: €14,500.00 (RRP as at 6.6.2017)

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Angus Davies

Angus is a self-confessed watch addict and is frequently asked to contribute to various printed magazines and websites around the globe. He also writes for individual watch companies on matters of horology and has appeared on television and radio as an industry expert.