Only Watch 2017: Ulysse Nardin Marine Tourbillon

By Harlan Chapman-Green

What is it that you look for in a watch? When you walk down the street with all the authorised dealers and boutiques that endlessly clean their windows and polish their watches, how do you choose where to go and spend some of your heard earned coin? There are several factors that could come into play. Perhaps you’re looking for something at the right price that will hold value, something that attracts people to the likes of Rolex. Maybe you’re looking for something a little more upper market that’s from a big name, so you’d go to Patek Philippe. But what if you wanted something that’s extremely high end that no one outside the watch game is likely to have heard of? Well, you’d go to Ulysse Nardin of course.

Admittedly, compared to some of the other contributions to the Only Watch auction this year, Ulysse Nardin’s submission is a little more restrained unlike others which seem only to happy to dunk their watches into a tin of yellow paint and call it a special edition. Really the only things that have changed are the long, thin Roman numerals for the number 7 which have become yellow, as well as the writing for the power reserve which has also become yellow. It’s not much, but it’s the thought that counts and it shows Ulysse Nardin is still committed to making some of the best haute horlogerie watches out there right now. The blue enamel Grand Feu dial is a masterpiece unto itself and has taken a long time to perfect given how precise everything needs to be on it.

I always talk about the minute repeater being one of the hardest complications to make, while we talk about tourbillons as if they are nobody’s business and everyone can make them now. Well, not quite, they are still exceedingly complicated to make and perfect, and to take it one step further Ulysse Nardin has made theirs into a flying tourbillon, that means that the tourbillon itself appears not to be connected to any part of the watch movement and yet it continues to run, like magic isn’t it?

The power reserve on this watch is 60 hours and the watch is automatic winding so whomever ends up paying for the thing can at least know they don’t have to spend time sitting around and winding it up all the time, although if they like doing that then there is a function to wind it through the crown.

The 43mm case is a modern size with Ulysse Nardin’s signature styling cues such as the grips on the bezel and the lugs which are almost nonexistent, blending into one big chunk of stainless steel sitting on the side of the case. Oh, you read that right, this watch is stainless steel too. Because of that it’s expected to sell, not for hundreds of thousands, but for between CHF 21,000 and CHF 32,000 which is crazy low money for this amazing timepiece.