Hands-On: Angus Davies gets hands-on with the Ulysse Nardin Marine Regatta
This detailed review of the Ulysse Nardin Marine Regatta includes live images, specification and pricing.
In the rarefied world of yacht racing, a 10-minute signal is given prior to a race. A regatta watch allows the wearer to actuate the countdown timer on hearing this signal and manoeuvre the yacht in such a way as to cross the start line at the optimum time.
When it comes to regatta watches, the Ulysse Nardin Marine Regatta is truly unique. The watch is equipped with a countdown function and, once actuated, the central chronograph seconds circumscribes the dial in a counter-clockwise trajectory. Other Regatta type watches share this countdown facility. However, what is unusual is that on reaching zero, the hand automatically commences counting with the central chronograph seconds hand moving in a clockwise direction. This mechanical flexibility is made possible thanks to a sophisticated inverter which allows the central chronograph seconds hand to change direction and, in so doing, showcase an impressive dose of ingenuity.Indeed, this watch is truly remarkable, but as I go on to reveal it is also a highly impressive timepiece for several other reasons.
The highly polished, silver-toned hour and minute hands feature prominent luminescent areas. Roman numerals and batons proclaim each hour with unequivocal tone. Both the hands and each hour marker, whether numeral or baton, gleam resplendently, aiding the overall legibility of the dial.
The ocean blue hue of the dial is a fitting metaphor for the marine credentials of this timepiece. Its metallized surface glints in ambient light, evincing different shades depending on the position in which the watch is held. Furthermore, the central area of the dial features a motif, replicating the lines of latitude and longitude.
A countdown scale resides Inside the hour track and employs yellow numerals. The contrast between the yellow numbers on the countdown scale and the adjacent blue surfaces is delightful. A twin-spoke, yellow-tipped hand indicates the remaining minutes of the countdown sequence.
Positioned above 6 o’clock is a subdial combining a 60-minute chronograph register with a 12-hour chronograph register, with both hands sharing the same axis. In the lower portion of this subdial is a small aperture, presenting the date in black text against a white background. The date can be adjusted in either direction without fear of damage to the date mechanism.
Located on the inner flange is a minuterie, making the determination of elapsed seconds intuitive and simple.
While the Marine Regatta is a robust, highly practical tool watch it does not shortchange the wearer in terms of style and beauty. Indeed, this is a handsome timepiece, ideally suited for casual attire.
The 44mm case brims with masculinity. Its crimped bezel features blue rubber treatment in each recess, wonderfully contrasting with the ubiquitously presented, highly polished surfaces.
On the left flank of the case, a push-piece is located at 10 o’clock. This push-piece sets the countdown in 1-minute increments i.e. the push-piece is pressed 10 times to set the counter to 10minutes. To actuate the countdown, the wearer presses the push-piece at 2 o’clock. Typical of chronographs, pressing the push-piece at 4 o’clock resets the stop-watch / countdown function. Each of the three pushpieces feature a layer of blue rubber along their vertical plane.
If the countdown function is not set, the chronograph will work as per any non-regatta timepiece with the central chronograph hand advancing clockwise.
A plaque on the left case-band proclaims the unique serial number of the watch.
The blue rubber strap affixes to the case using substantial screws. In between the satin-brushed lugs and delivered at an alternative angle, there is a contrasting highly polished section, providing an eye-catching detail. The marriage of the two different finishes, together with the blue rubber, confers a highly agreeable appearance.
Wearer comfort is an essential attribute of any timepiece, however, some watches fail to deliver. Thankfully, the Marine Regatta, despite its notable size, proves incredibly comfortable to wear. The primary reason for this cosseting embrace relates to the rubber strap, with its impressive flexibility and its capacity to nimbly bend at the point where it affixes to the lugs.
The rear of the case features a pane of sapphire crystal allowing sight of the Caliber UN-155.
The Caliber UN-155 is technically impressive owing to the aforementioned bi-directional central chronograph seconds hand. However, there are further reasons to deferentially bow in front of this self-winding movement.
Firstly, the movement features state of the silicium technology. Secondly, the movement is beautifully appointed with traditional finissage, including perlage, polished screw sinks and Côtes de Genève motif. An abundance of thermally blued screws enliven the movement with soupçons of cornflower blue.
The screws on the balance wheel are positioned in-board, mitigating turbulence and, in so doing, augmenting precision. The symmetrical balance bridge is beautiful to behold. However, beyond its aesthetic beauty, affixing the balance bridge at two points confers greater stability when contrasted with a balance cock.
The technical prowess of this timepiece cannot be overstated. Its central chronograph seconds hand proves almost hypnotic as it switches direction and fulfils two different roles.
Beyond its technical prowess, the Ulysse Nardin Marine Regatta is incredibly handsome, courtesy of its beguiling blue face and its gorgeously gleaming hands and hour markers. The subtle depiction of the earth at the centre of the dial is both tasteful and attractive. Furthermore, the judicious and sparing use of yellow on the dial enlivens the horological vista without proving distracting.
While this watch is ideal for the task it was designed for, namely sailing, it remains a suitable sports watch for daily wear. Indeed, its highly legible display and handsome appearance are equally relevant on terra firma. This watch perfectly coordinates with jeans to confer a stylish sartorial ensemble.
The watch proves extremely comfortable to wear thanks to the shape of the lugs and the flexibility of the rubber strap. It is these two factors which help mitigate the bulk of the 44mm case and grant a comfortable fit.
The movement, the Caliber UN-155, is very impressive. Not only does it have an ingenious facility where the central chronograph seconds hand can move in either direction, it is also beautifully finished with exquisite Côtes de Genève, perlage and thermally blued screws.
I cannot hide my admiration for this watch, it is stunning, and I am clearly not alone in my adoration for this timepiece either. The Ulysse Nardin Marine Regatta has recently won the Sports Watch Prize at the GPHG (Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève), a justly deserved honour and a further indication of its notable merit.
Strap: Blue rubber strap supplied on a deployant clasp
Price: CHF 15,900 (RRP as at 23.11.2017)
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.