As most of you probably know, Ulysse Nardin has a long history of making precise and reliable marine chronometers that were used by literally thousands of European navigators. The legacy is still there when it comes to the design of their maritime-inspired watches and the automatic Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronometer Manufacture is no exception here. Featuring all the necessary design cues of a maritime chronometer (including a notched bezel,) the watch nevertheless looks elegant enough to be worn with a formal suit, even despite its deliberately oversized case.
Officially certified by the Swiss COSC authority as a chronometer, the 2011 Caliber UN-118 not only offers you formidable 60 hours of guaranteed power reserve but also comes equipped with their patented DIAMonSIL lever escapement with silicon oscillator and balance spring.
First revealed around five years ago when the brand presented its outrageous Freak DIAMonSIL model, the component has its parts crafted from lightweight and antimagnetic silicon, which is then treated with a thin layer of diamond coating that not only eliminates the need for lubrication but also significantly increases the part’s durability.
By the way, the silicium 1.1.1 hairspring employed in this mechanism first appeared four years ago in their patented Caliber UN-66 that powered the 2008 limited-edition Sonata Silicium alarm watch.
As to the exterior, it is, as usual, very recognizable.
Delivered in a large 18-karat rose gold body (pictured, also versions in titanium-gold and titanium-steel mixes) 45 millimeters in diameter, the timekeeper comes equipped with a notched bezel (a clear nod to XIX century maritime chronometers) and the signature setting crown, which is partially protected from unexpected damage with a pair of crown guards.
The vintage-styled “snow white” dial is treated with an expensive and hard-to-make grand feu enamel that not only looks great but also provides a high-contrast background for the Roman numerals, as well as for the “historic” hours and minutes hands that are covered with small patches of Superluminova.
As usual, the small seconds’ hand sub-dial, which is placed at 6 hours and shares a part of its intimate space with a round date window, is counterweighted with a small power reserve indicator, which is located at 12 o’clock. I don’t like the way they have accompanied the French abbreviations “BAS” and “HAUT” with English “DOWN” and “UP” respectively, but I can certainly live with that.
The rose gold version will be issued only as a limited edition of just 350 pieces. Luckily, they plan to make as many versions in titanium-gold and titanium-steel as Ulysse Nardin will be able to sell.
Build Quality: 5/5
Overall Legibility: 5/5
Nighttime Legibility: 4/5
Value for Money: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Photos: Ulysse Nardin
Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronometer Manufacture specification
Movement: Automatic, Caliber UN-118, COSC-certified chronometer, designed in-house, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 50
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, date, power reserve
Power reserve: 60 hours
Case: 18-karat rose gold (pictured) / titanium and gold / steel and titanium
Size: 45.00 mm
Dial: Snow white Grand Feu enamel
Numerals: Roman, black
Hour markers: Black
Hands: Black, luminous
Water resistance: 200 meters
Strap: Black leather or rubber strap with 18-karat rose gold or titanium elements with folding clasp, or bracelet in 18-karat rose gold, two-tone titanium and 18-karat gold or two-tone titanium and steel
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective coating