THE ULYSSE NARDIN MARINE CHRONOGRAPH
Text and Photographs by Michael Disher
I cannot tell the Marine Chronograph story without mentioning another Ulysse Nardin watch, the Marine Chronometer 1846. I purchased an 1846 in stainless steel in 1998. Prior to that purchase, I had difficulty deciding between the arabic and roman number versions. I selected the romans because I felt they give the watch a classic look, true to the Marine Chronometers of old. Following that purchase, I wore the 1846 on both brown and black straps and a bracelet. I ultimately settled on a black crocodile strap, which gives the 1846 a very pleasing and fairly dressy look. That left me in need of a sporty watch on a bracelet. Given my admiration for the 1846 with arabic numbers, I was not surprisingly drawn to the Marine Chronograph.
The Bezel, Crystal, Dial and Hands
The Marine Chronograph has a very thin, highly polished coin edge bezel. I have always been partial to the coin edge style, and the thinness of this bezel makes the watch appear larger in diameter than it actually is. The coin-edge is uniformly highly polished, evidencing careful attention to detail. The crystal is sapphire, flat and beveled at the edges. It is anti-reflective coated on both sides.
The dial and hands are striking. The dial offers a blend of color and texture that is captivating. My dial is the “silverized”, or silver-plated version. The dial is very light in color, almost white. The hands are blued steel, with a curvatious shape and nicely applied tritium. The large arabic numbers are bold and very legible. The raised galvanic blue numbers mimic the blued steel of the hands. The hands and numbers usually appear black, however they take on a brilliant blue hue when light reflects off of them. The date is located between 4 and 5, and it is angled slightly to aid reading. The date disk is directly below the dial, making it quite legible. This dial is flawlessly executed. I examined it with a 10x loupe and could find no shortcomings. The print is crisp, the tritium perfectly applied, and the raised silver anchor adds a touch of sparkle. I would rate the quality of the dial and hands on this watch with the very best I have seen.
The chronograph layout is the nicely symmetrical 3-6-9. Permanent small seconds are located at 3. The chronograph uses the large center seconds hand, which is blued steel with a red tip for easy reading. The chronograph has a 30 minute elapsed time register at 9 and a 12 hour elapsed time register at 6. All three subdials are raised. A tachymeter scale appears on a ring between the bezel and the dial. The small chronograph hands are red, which adds a touch of color and aids visibility. I have used the chronograph on several occasions to time such things as cooking on the grill and parking meters. The chronograph is very easy to read. The large seconds hand resets in a flash – almost too fast to see, and it resets precisely to zero every time.
The Case, Crown and Push Buttons
The case is highly polished stainless steel, with a shape that tapers from top to bottom. At the top, measuring across the bezel, the watch is 38 millimeters in diameter, however the caseback is 35 millimeters in diameter. The overall thickness of this watch is 12.9 millimeters. Like the bezel, the case is very well finished.
On the 9 o’clock side of the case, there is a small plaque which bears this watch’s unique number. The plaque is held in place by two blued screws. On the opposite side of the case are the crown and the chronograph pushers. All three screw down, as one would expect on a 200 meter-rated watch. The pushers operate smoothly, giving a pleasing “click” when they engage. The pusher at 2 o’clock starts and stops the chronograph, while the 4 o’clock pusher resets the chronograph hands. The chronograph operates independently of the small seconds, and does not interfere with regular timekeeping. The chronograph measures to one-eighth of a second. I am very pleased with the chronograph’s feel and function.
The caseback is skin-friendly titanium. This reduces weight and improves wearing comfort. Titanium is not as cold as steel. The caseback is held in place with 4 blued screws. The caseback is engraved with the names of the 18 competitions in which Ulysse Nardin won a gold medal. The caseback is also engraved with the model name, reference number and depth rating. The inside of the caseback is decorated with perlage, and in the center there is a small stamp of the Ulysse Nardin company. The image of the stamp below is enlarged to show detail.
The bracelet is very well crafted. The links and end pieces are solid stainless steel. The bracelet links are approximately 6.5 millimeters wide. This bracelet has a solid look, yet it is quite comfortable. The bracelet also feels very solid, and it has a nice weight. The links are highly polished on the outside and brushed on the inside. Being highly polished, the bracelet will show scratches, which of course can be polished out. The Marine Chronograph is not available with the combination matte or satinated and polished link bracelet. If scratches are a concern, you should consider a strap. I have included a scan of my watch on a strap further down in the review.
There are small Ulysse Nardin anchors engraved on the first center links of the bracelet. There are six removable links of two different sizes, helping to assure a good fit. I was able to size the bracelet myself, using a set of Bergeon professional jeweler’s screwdrivers. Any good jeweler should also be able to size this bracelet for you. The bracelet uses a butterfly clasp which opens via two spring-loaded buttons. My clasp has performed well without fail. This is a very solid, well made bracelet.
The movement is a rugged and reliable automatic winding ETA 2892-A2, which has been modified by the chronograph experts at Dubois Dépraz. The movement bears the Ulysse Nardin caliber designation UN-35. The movement is 30mm in diameter and 6.9mm thick. The movement contains 57 jewels, 21 in the base movement and 36 in the chronograph module. The date is located between 4 and 5, and the small seconds are at 3. The chronograph has 12 hour and 30 minute registers. The balance wheel is Glucydur and ocillates at 28,800 vph. The movement incorporates a flat Nivarox 1 balance spring and Incabloc shock protection. The plates and bridges are decorated with perlage, and the bottom plate is decorated with perlage on the dial side as well. The rotor is nicely engraved with the Ulysse Nardin name and anchor. The movement is rhodium plated.
I examined the movement using 4x and 10x loupes. The plates have beveled edges or anglage, finished to a nice smoothness. The balance cock is not angled. The screws are stainless steel and polished to a mirror like finish, as are all exposed steel parts. The screws are chamfered and level with the bridge and plate surfaces. The wheels are also highly polished, even between the teeth. On the whole, this is a well finished movement.
This watch is a very good timekeeper. I tested it for 21 days against an atomic signal radio-controlled clock. I wore the watch between 5 and 16 hours per day, placing it dial up at night. The Marine Chronograph ran at a steady + 3 seconds per day. I suspect I could achieve better performance storing the watch in a slower position at night. A vertical 12 o’clock up position will generally be slower than horizontal (either dial up or down), however this will not be true for every watch.
The winding feel is creamy. As noted above, the chronograph buttons operate smoothly, offering a bit of resistance and clicking nicely when the chronograph is engaged. Overall, I am very pleased with the movement and its operation.
The Marine Chronograph arrives in a very nice dark blue padded leather box with the Ulysse Nardin name embossed on the top in gold. The outer box is cardboard and in the same color scheme. The watch is accompanied by an owner’s manual which provides a bit of company history in addition to the operating instructions. Also included are the warranty card, and another smaller booklet listing Ulysse Nardin’s worldwide service center locations.
Other Versions, Reference Numbers and Suggested Prices
My watch is shown above on a Ulysse Nardin leather strap. This particular strap is not a standard offering for this watch. This image is included solely to illustrate how the watch looks on a strap.
The Marine Chronograph is available in the following combinations. All prices are suggested USA list in US dollars as of September, 1999.
Stainless steel with bracelet and silverized dial, ref. 353-22-7 (as featured in this review). MSRP $3900.
Black dial, dark brown crocodile strap, ref. 353-22/62, MSRP $3300.
Dark blue dial, black crocodile strap, ref. 353-22/63, MSRP $3300.
18K yellow gold, silverized dial, crocodile strap, ref. 351-22, MSRP $8900
18K gold on 18K gold bracelet, blue dial, ref. 351-22-8/63, MSRP $16,500.
Other strap colors and materials are available upon request, and they may be purchased separately from Ulysse Nardin.
Comparison With the 1846
Since acquiring the Marine Chronograph, I have come to appreciate the extent to which it differs from the 1846. These watches share some visual cues, notably the hands, bezel, case shape and bracelet. Yet the Marine Chronograph is without question a different watch. It is more robust, with a case that is more than 2 millimeters thicker than the 1846. The Marine Chronograph bezel, lugs and even the bracelet links are all thicker than the 1846, giving the watch real heft and presence on the wrist. The chronograph dial is also decidedly more sporty than the 1846. Even on a strap, it is plainly a sports watch. The Marine Chronograph is decidedly different from the 1846.
This is an extremely well crafted watch. Every aspect reveals close attention to detail. The Marine Chronograph offers a unique look and a solid feel. This watch is a keeper.
Summary and Contact Information
Watch reviewed: Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronograph, ref. 353-22-7, stainless steel with titanium back case, stainless steel bracelet, silverized dial. MSRP US$3900.
Case dimensions without crown: 38 mm x 12.9 mm
Water resistance rating: 200 meters/660 feet
Functions: Hour, minute, small seconds at 3. Chronograph with large center seconds, 30 minute totalizer at 9, 12 hour totalizer at 6. Date at 4-5H
Movement: Automatic winding ETA 2892-A2 with Dubois Dépraz chronograph module. 30 mm in diameter, 6.9 mm thick. 57 jewels, Glucydur balance, Nivarox 1 balance spring, Incablock shock protection, 28,800 vph
Strap size: 20 mm
Contact: Within the USA, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
International: Click here for distributor list