Ulysse Nardin has been shipping its GMT-enabled Dual Timers for quite a while now and they must enjoy good sales if the model is reborn year after year trying to satisfy different tastes and budgets. However, this new dressy Ulysse Nardin Dual Time Manufacture radically differs from previous iterations. The difference is not limited to just the styling of its case and the dial: while its numerous predecessors were equipped with the self-winding Caliber UN-24, which is basically an inexpensive ETA 2892-A2 movement with an add-on module, this particular timekeeper that was presented at the Baselworld 2014 trade show is now equipped with their own UN-334 Manufacture mechanism. As the name implies, the movement is crafted solely in-house.
It surprises me a little that it is only now that the Swiss brand (one of the few Swiss-based watchmakers that stay in this business for more than 150 years) decided to equip one of its most attractive “affordable” watches with an in-house mechanism: for the last couple of years there has been a growing trend among makers of premium timekeepers to gradually faze-out third-party movements by replacing them with calibers made (at least technically) on their own premises.
Making your own movement, especially when it comes to watches that cost less than €20,000 in steel bodies, is less profitable than just getting a mass-produced engine and make some cosmetic changes here and there. However, those mass-produced mechanisms actually make selling premium watches more difficult, so we will probably see more in-house mechanisms during the coming years.
There are two reasons for this: first, ETA is getting less and less enthusiastic when it comes to selling its mechanism to brands outside of Swatch Group and, second, customers are gradually getting better educated and demand more “value” from watches that often cost more than a Ford Fiesta.
From the ergonomics point of view, the new Ulysse Nardin Dual Time UN-334 Manufacture is the same good old GMT timekeeper that the Swiss brand is selling for years. It still features the same “digital” home time display at 9 o’clock with the “local” time hour hand operated with a pair of push-pieces at 8 and 10 hours that allow to easily synchronize your watch with current time zone without even taking it off the wrist or moving the minute hand: frequent travelers will love this feature.
As usual, the big date window at 2 hours is, too, synchronized with the local time and jumps back and forward automatically as you make adjustment as you cross the dateline.
I’ve got an impression that with this new model Ulysse Nardin has made its first step in making its dual-timers less sporty and a bit dressier, perhaps stylistically closer to its Classico collection.
As you can see on the photos, the case is almost “classic” now and the dial is a lot more subdued with less prominent hands and a finely executed dial with its sunburst pattern and small applied hour markers. However, the watch is still sporty enough to have a decent amount of Superluminova on its main elements and is easily readable in any lighting conditions. It still looks better with a blazer than a tuxedo.
Build quality: 5/5
Value for money: 4.5/5
Overall Rating: 4/5
See also: Ulysse Nardin Executive Dual Time GMT
Photos: Ulysse Nardin
Ulysse Nardin Dual Time UN-334 Manufacture (Ref. 3346-126) specification
Price: $26,500 (Retail)
Movement: Automatic, caliber UN-334 Manufacture, in-house, silicon escapement, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 49
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Power reserve: 48 hours
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, big date, second time zone (GMT)
Case: Stainless steel / 18-karat rose gold (pictured)
Size: 42.00 mm
Dial: Black / Silver
Hour markers: Luminous, applied
Hands: Luminous, open-worked
Water resistance: 30 meters
Strap: Brown leather strap or stainless steel bracelet with folding clasp
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective