Ulysse Nardin’s Torpilleur Makes a Splash

Ulysse Nardin is a watch brand that has deep historical roots within the Swiss watchmaking industry. Dating back to 1846, the eponymous watch company was started by a young Ulysse Nardin in one of the smallest yet most horologically-rich cities in Switzerland — Le Locle. Though it came from humble beginnings, the ambitions of its founder would see the brand looking far past the scenic mountains and pastoral valleys of Switzerland to the sea. To this day, the brand’s anchor emblem is an ever-present reminder of its proud history of manufacturing highly accurate marine chronometers.

Now, to the modern mind it may be difficult to fully grasp just how enormously important the marine chronometer was in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Used primarily for the purposes of navigation, an inaccurate clock could lead to unreliable navigation calculations. A few minutes or, god forbid, hours off in accuracy over the course of a voyage could result in the ship being hundreds of miles off course. For generations of sailors, the accuracy of these timekeeping instruments have quite literally meant the difference between life and death. It was to this crucial endeavor that Ulysse Nardin dedicated his work, resulting in thousands of awards and recognitions, and a legacy of fine watchmaking inextricably linked to maritime pursuits.

Torpilleur, French for Torpedo Boats, were small, agile and deadly naval vessels
Torpilleur, French for Torpedo Boats, were small, agile and deadly naval vessels

Marine Torpilleur

While the history of Ulysse Nardin’s nautical endeavors has never been far from the heart of their continual horological ambitions, in 2017, the company decided to re-emphasize its dedication by creating the Marine Torpilleur collection, a series of utterly classic timepieces made in the aesthetic spirit of the marine chronometers that came before. Now, the company has built upon this core series with three additions, resulting in a new depth of function and elegance to their offerings: the Marine Torpilleur Dual Time, Marine Torpilleur Moonphase in rose gold and, most extravagantly, the Marine Torpilleur Tourbillon Grand Feu with a white enamel dial.

While all three timepieces share a similar classic aesthetic, with large, legible dials and traditional styling reminiscent of their chronometer forebears, they also share a decidedly more modern feature — the use of silicium. The silicon-based escapement wheel, anchor and balance spring provide an increased accuracy, thanks to the material’s elasticity, durability and antimagnetic quality. To the casual observer, these watches may appear to be decidedly classical in nature, but they are in fact entirely modern in both technology and function.

Marine Torpilleur Dual Time

Marine Torpilleur Dual Time, 44mm in satin stainless steel
Marine Torpilleur Dual Time, 44mm in satin stainless steel

With its deep-blue sunray and satin dial contrasted by bold white roman numerals, the Marine Torpilleur Dual Time seeks to strike a balance between classic design and proportion, and modern tastes and aesthetics. The 44mm stainless steel case features an elegant fluted bezel and a sapphire crystal exhibition caseback. The self-winding manufacture caliber UN-334 allows for the seamless tracking of two time zones via the use of the 24-hour aperture positioned at nine o’clock and two pushers found along the left side of the case. When traveling, the aperture maintains the time at home while the hour hand can be either advanced or moved backwards, depending on the wearer’s need. Lest the traveler be concerned with the date wheel falling out of sync, the calendar proceeds as intended, regardless of the direction the time is adjusted.

Marine Torpilleur Dual Time
Self-Winding Caliber UN-334 movement
Self-Winding Caliber UN-334 movement

Tech Specs

Movement: Self-winding manufacture caliber UN-334; 48-hour power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, dual time zone, large date
Case: 44mm; polished and satin-finished stainless steel; water-resistant to 50m
Dial: Blue sunray satin finish
Strap: Blue alligator leather with stainless steel folding clasp
Price: USD 11,500


Marine Torpilleur Moonphase

Marine Torpilleur Moonphase, new in 18k Rose Gold
Marine Torpilleur Moonphase, new in 18k Rose Gold

Arguably one of the most characteristically beautiful complications in watchmaking, the moonphase has graced some of the finest timepieces in history. For their part, Ulysse Nardin has been utilizing them since the late 1800s. As a part of their 175th anniversary celebrations, two variations of moonphase Torpilleurs were released in 2021, with just 300 examples of each produced in stainless steel and either a blue or white dial. Evidently the response was resoundingly positive, as this year an all-new example joins the collection in a 42mm rose gold case. With the power reserve positioned at 12 o’clock and the dark-blue PVD moonphase and small seconds positioned at six, there is a pleasant vertical symmetry that further emphasizes the classical elegance of the piece. Adding to the technical proficiency is the brand’s own DiamonSil plasma technology that is used to coat the escapement wheel and silicium anchor, thereby increasing performance and durability.

Marine Torpilleur Moonphase
Marine Torpilleur Moonphase

Tech Specs

Movement: Self-winding manufacture caliber UN-119; 60-hour power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, moonphase
Case: 42mm; polished and satin-finished rose gold; water-resistant to 50m
Dial: Varnished white finish
Strap: Blue alligator leather with rose gold folding clasp
Price: USD 22,600


Marine Torpilleur Tourbillon Grand Feu

Marine Torpilleur Tourbillon in White Grand Feu Enamel
Marine Torpilleur Tourbillon in White Grand Feu Enamel

Within the historical context of precision timekeeping, there are few, if any other, complications that command as much reverence as the tourbillon. Indeed, the advent of the tourbillon itself changed the very concept of what accuracy in timekeeping could mean. Similar to the moonphase, in 2021 the Marine Torpilleur Tourbillon was released with an inky black grand feu enamel dial in a limited edition of just 175 pieces. This year, a new example joins the permanent collection in a graceful white grand feu enamel dial, punctuated by deep-blue roman numerals. Prominently displayed in all of its horological splendor, is the flying tourbillon with constant escapement and silicium anchor — the purest synthesis of the brand’s long and regal history with its modern technological capabilities.

Flying tourbillon with UlysseAnchor Constant Escapement, featuring a Silicium escapement wheel, balance-spring & anchor
Flying tourbillon with UlysseAnchor Constant Escapement, featuring a Silicium escapement wheel, balance-spring & anchor

Tech Specs

Movement: Self-winding manufacture caliber UN-128 Constant; 60-hour power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes, flying tourbillon with Ulysse Anchor Constant Escapement, power-reserve display
Case: 42mm; polished and satin-finished stainless steel; water-resistant to 50m
Dial: White grand feu enamel made by Donzé Cadrans
Strap: Blue alligator leather with stainless steel folding clasp
Price: USD 39,600

return-to-top__image
Back to Top