Ulysse Nardin Grand Deck Marine Tourbillon - Welcome to Ulysse Nardin 2.0
The Ulysse Nardin Grand Deck Marine Tourbillon will be remembered as the most complicated haute horlogerie watch of the year 2016. Ulysse Nardin have claimed that they are aiming at reinforcing their link with the sea and with marine chronometers alike by focusing on a new communication strategy. The Grand Deck Marine Tourbillon is the first example, among the brand’s haute horlogerie collections, that fully matches this new vision both from a technical and stylish point of view. The designer of this tourbillon has tried to come up with an image where the dial of the watch resembles the deck of a sailing yacht and the wooden marquetry ideally represents the teak of the bridge of a ship.
The retrograde minutes hand has been crafted to replicate the function of a boom that is being maneuvered by extremely thin cables. Two winches and two pulleys drive the passing of minutes while a patented system activates the “jump” to the following 60 minutes in the same way and, ideally, at the same speed of a boom that is being maneuvered during a turn. The cables have been crafted in Dyneema, a synthetic industrially-produced fiber that is quite used in some sports like, for example, kitesurfing or climbing and that is almost non-elastic. In this application of micro-engineering, the fiber can bear about 1.41kg of tension load despite the small size of its diameter that only measures 0.0357mm.
The creation of a miniature system made of cables and pulleys that mimics the very same system of a sailing boat required the development of a patented method made up of a dedicated set of gears, a spiral spring to maintain the cables taut and two lock pins. The minutes scale is a transparent arch made of blue spinel with white minutes, the “Ulysse Nardin” writing encircling the anchor logo located at 12 o’clock has been placed in a slightly lower position and has been replaced by two flags representing the maritime symbols of the U and N letters. On the four corners of the inner flange have been applied miniatures of a deck banister.
The viewing of the hour has been completely digitalized and is visible through a big window positioned in the middle of the dial, thanks to a quick-snap button covered with a blue rubber insert that is located at 2 o’clock it is quite easy and quite quick to adjust the time. The pale blue color of the Ulysse Nardin, a characteristic of the Marine Chronometer collection, is everywhere; on the screws of the winches and the pulleys, on the boom, on the applied UN logo that indicates the continuous seconds by turning with the tourbillion cage and on the rubber insert that is coaxial to the winding crown.
As of today, we have presented with only two examples of the new Marine Chronometer collection and those include the Chrono Annual Calendar. The website of the brand is being entirely revamped and it hasn’t been completed yet, so, while we are still waiting to find out what this new collection is all about, we can only say that this collection represents the real core of the manufacturer’s offering and also that the classic round case with deep knurling on the bezel and the first part of the bracelet that is completely integrated with the case are still there, two elements of style that are always present.
The case of the Ulysse Nardin Grand Deck Marine Tourbillon is made of white gold, it measures 44mm and it sports a see-through caseback showcasing the UN-630 caliber. This is a manual caliber running at a frequency of 3Hz and featuring two winding barrels that have been skeletonized so that you can better appreciate the complete rewinding and the subsequent unwinding of the mainspring.
The structure of the caseback makes sense as the two barrels have two different functions; one of them has been designed to charge the movement and thus guarantee up to 48 hours of power reserve while the second barrel is completely independent from the first one and it provides energy both to the time viewing system and to the retrograde minutes viewing mechanism alike, thus not affecting isochronism.
When my partner saw and took pics of the Ulysse Nardin Grand Deck Marine Tourbillon for the first time, I had already gone back to Italy. I received an SMS on my phone from him that said: “Gaetano, of all the brands that we have seen this year, Ulysse Nardin is probably the brand that has released the most interesting novelties.” Ulysse Nardin have been part of the Kering Group for more than one year now and, as I said before, they are going through an enormous transformation process. Among all of the tourbillons that have been launched so far, this timepiece displays an incredible originality, no doubt that it is a very eccentric watch but it is nevertheless non-comparable to any other one.
I reckon that, at least for the last ten years, nobody has ever doubted about Ulysse Nardin’s ability to craft exceptional complications and outstanding calibers but probably nobody could have ever guessed that the manufacturer could achieve such a high level of creativity. When it comes to the crafting of the Ulysse Nardin Grand Deck Marine Tourbillon, it almost looks like a complicated timepiece with animation, an extremely original and exclusive watch geared towards those who can afford to pay 280,000 Swiss Francs and want to take home one of the 18 models in one go.
(Photo credit: Horbiter's proprietary photo-shooting by Entropik)
Gaetano C @Horbiter