This year at Baselworld 2016, Ulysse Nardin presented the Marine Chronograph Annual Calendar Ref. 1533-150 (steel) and 1532-150 (18k red gold) series models with their new in-house UN-153 movement. This is yet another new annual calendar watch among a slew of many, but we think fans of the brand’s slightly more classical timepieces will enjoy the refined overall looks, impressive quality, and slick integration of the upgraded calendar system to the existing Marine Chronograph collection.
This nautical-themed beauty aims for simplicity and is a welcome progression from Ulysse Nardin’s Marine Chronometer Manufacture, established in 2012, that was followed with the in-house made caliber UN-150 automatic chronograph movement in the Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronograph Manufacture (hands-on here). The aBlogtoWatch team was impressed by the stunning dial and looks of the Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronograph Annual Calendar, as well as, more importantly, the superlative movement design and architecture that is possibly not as appreciated as it should be by the larger watch enthusiast populous.
The Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronograph Annual Calendar is housed in a solid 43mm stainless steel or 18k red gold case with an elegantly fluted bezel which is a simple signature of the collection going back to when the brand actually did make marine chronometers for ship use. This gives the watch a coin-edge appearance and I am a sucker for these. Stainless steel works well here and allows the handsome blue dial to really pop. Both the ivory white and blue dial colors are available in either the steel or 18k red gold cases. More so, the steel versions are available on a matching steel bracelet while all models are also available on a rubber or alligator strap.
While the white “egg shell” (they call it “white lacquered….” which it is) dial option is the obvious conservative’s choice, the real winner here in the Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronograph Annual Calendar dial is the navy blue with white roman numerals, in my opinion. I am glad they chose roman numerals as I much prefer the classic and Hellenic vibe they give off, particularly when paired with a more formal piece. The red accentuated month indicator and “1846” really add a touch of variation and color and prevent the face from disappearing under a near-monochromatic presentation.
I appreciate it when manufacturers offer these little accents to draw your eye into the piece and navy with red (and especially with gold) is a winning combination. Look to Ulysse Nardin’s Hammerhead piece if you really want to see a bold mix! The style here is reserved yet elegant and confident in the sizable case. Sure, you might not be able to get away with wearing this with a t-shirt as it is a tad on the conservative side, but hey, be yourself and throw caution to the wind. If you choose this piece, you have something you’re not going to want to put away just because you’re dressed down.
The recessed pushers offer a nice balance with the fluted crown and Ulysse Nardin aims for simplicity with this piece. The Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronograph Annual Calendar features an annual calendar (displays the month as well as the date) as part of the manufacture-made caliber UN-153 automatic movement that is a cross between a perpetual and a simple model. Whereas simple calendars necessitate adjusting five times per year, this complication marries the functionalities by only needing to be adjusted once per year. The months can be quickly set with a unique backward/forward adjustment for added ease. It only recognizes months with 30 or 31 days so February is the victim here. Still, this isn’t too much to ask of the wearer even though you will miss out on that exciting leap year moment that only perpetual calendar owners get by seeing the 29th in the date window every four years in February. Every other month is abbreviated on the subdial while months in between are read with elongated indices.
The dial is clean and legible despite the inclusion of a magnified date window at 6. I actually prefer this locale if there must be a date window though it might have worked better with a continuation of the blue in the framing. The black on white ensures legibility at the very least. Keeping in line with its maritime inspirations, the crown is screw-down and guarantees a water resistance of 100 meters. Sometimes I find it odd when watches paired with leather straps offer this depth of water resistance, but I would rather have it all the same.
The UN-153 advances the attributes set forth by the UN-118 where less is more in the display of information. The calendar is constructed from only about a dozen elements, and the indicator itself adds to an existing subdial rather than creating too many new elements on the dial. The company acknowledges that many annual calendars are comprised of almost thirty parts so Ulysse Nardin makes a point of showcasing their movement through a sapphire crystal on the case back. It is designed completely in-house and is a testament to the brand’s effort to offer a high-quality movement with extreme precision. Even the silicon balance-spring is manufactured in-house. This level of commitment is part of what makes independent brands so special and it’s refreshing to see this level of detail in the Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronograph Annual Calendar. The self-winding UN-153 beats away at a modern 4Hz (28,800 bph) and allows the owner a 52-hour power reserve.
It is a further testament to the efforts of the Swiss brand to distinguish themselves from the densely competitive space by making their in-house “high-volume” calibers (as opposed to sparsely made tourbillons and other exotic movements) appear unique from others in the marketplace. With that said, it is hard not to be amused by the “Ulysse Nardin Certified” seal on the label which easily reminds us of the “Patek Philippe” seal – which the brand awards to itself. There has been historically good reason for brands to come up with their own high standards of making movements, and they offer proof that they are following their own standards – but there has to be a more elegant way of communicating as such.
Overall, if you like a little boat-lifestyle in your otherwise conservative sport watches and appreciate the idea of changing your calendar date only once a year, then give these a good look. The Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronograph Annual Calendar comes on a smooth, dark navy alligator leather strap and features a folding buckle to complete the package (among with the other strap/bracelet options mentioned above. There are technically 10 references to begin with of the watch given the various dial/case material/strap options. Pricing for the reference 1533-150 series in steel is $11,800 USD on the rubber strap, $11,900 on the alligator strap, and $12,600 on the steel bracelet. The reference 1532-150 Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronograph Annual Calendar series in the 18k red gold case will be priced at $33,000 on the alligator strap and $34,600 on the rubber strap (more because of the gold link in the strap). ulysse-nardin.com