Watches: Ulysse Nardin Marine Perpetual Models in Vulcanized Black Rubber with Set Bezels (+live pics)

By Thierry Ané on April 15, 2015

This week, it seems like Spring has finally arrived in Europe: thanks to Daylight Saving Time, days feel definitely longer and the sun has made a much needed appearance, urging people to take long walks in London’s beautiful parks. Sipping a glass of Chardonnay at the terrace of a nice restaurant, I feel almost on holiday already!

This is clearly the time when my horological tastes are evolving towards summery alternatives. No matter how beautiful and well-crafted it is, I find it hard to be excited by a classical dress watch at this period of the year. It is definitely time for Fine Watchmaking to be fun and colourful: I am in a holiday mood and I want my watches to reflect this state of mind.

The new “Marine Perpetual” models introduced this year by Swiss Manufacture Ulysse Nardin are the exact synthesis of all I crave for in a timepiece this month: with a high-end perpetual calendar movement, they satisfy my endless love for Fine Watchmaking but their maritime origin and their colourful touches also talk to my desire for casual and cheerful models.

I have always liked the brand’s “Marine” model with its vulcanized black rubber coating: it gives a truly youthful and contemporary note to this generously sized 45.8 mm watch. The black rubber with its ceramic inserts and the comfortable folding buckle also prolong this sharp look without compromising on craftsmanship and refinement.

Obviously, placing the UN-33 perpetual calendar movement into this sporty model water resistant to a depth of 200 meters is the perfect way to win over all the watch connoisseurs. Ulysse Nardin is renowned for the unrivalled simplicity of their perpetual calendar mechanisms that can be adjusted forwards and backwards and the UN-33 movement incorporates this feature together with all the Manufacture’s latest technological developments.

In addition to the central hours and minutes and off-centred seconds, the new timepieces offer a perpetual calendar with a large date by 2 windows, a day-of-the-week and month displays, a two-digit year indication and the leap year information. All of this with a generous 48-hour power reserve.

For this exciting series of five models, the brand added a slightly open-worked black dial that gives you a sneak peek at the components of the movement, in particular the discs providing the calendar information. Very cleverly, though, in order to prevent confusing readings of the calendar, these hollowed-out areas have been partly covered with a coloured grid (blue, red, or green depending on the version) reproducing the famous wave pattern of the “Marine” collection.

Apart from the colour of this grid, what differentiates the five models is the type of stones used to set the bezel. In collaboration with a diamond-setting specialist, they developed what they call the “3S” diamond-setting process, an exclusive and revolutionary technique allowing for the first time to set gemstones onto rubber, therefore combining some of Nature’s hardest materials with one of its softest: rubber!

At this point, the careful reader may remember Roger Dubuis’ “World’s First” at this year’s SIHH with the Excalibur Spider Skeleton Flying Tourbillon and wonder what is the difference between the process that allowed this Manufacture to set baguette-cut diamonds onto the notched black rubber bezel of the “Excalibur” and what Ulysse Nardin is doing? Well, the answer is absolutely nothing: both companies worked contemporaneously with the same diamond setter to develop and secure the exclusivity of this revolutionary process. With the SIHH ahead of Baselworld, Roger Dubuis was just luckier to claim the “World’s First”…

Ulysse Nardin introduced four 28-piece limited editions of the “Marine Perpetual” featuring a bezel set with precious stones: diamonds, blue sapphires, red sapphires and green sapphires. The wave-patterned grid is blue on the first two and red or green for the last two renditions. Lastly, the brand is also releasing a slightly less limited run of 99 pieces with a bezel set with baguette-cut black ceramic (also featuring the blue grid).

The setting is quite impressive and the combination between a rubberized bezel and the gemstone baguettes is stunning. I have a soft spot for the green sapphires version as green has always been my favourite colour but I would be happy to wear any of these five models. I also have the feeling that these watches will keep their appeal for a long time as they strike the perfect balance between horological achievements and fashion style. They would be the perfect timepiece for this sunny season anyway and would keep you in a good mood even if it rains!

For more information please visit the Ulysse Nardin web site.