Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Military Semper Fortis (With Live Photos)

Ulysse Nardin has made chronometers for the world’s seafaring forces since the 19th century, but the Swiss watchmaker’s first collaboration with the United States Navy began more recently, in 1905. It was in that year that the Washington Naval Observatory organized its “Precision Torpedo Boat Timepieces” competition to supply the U.S. Navy and its superior officers with the most precise on-board chronometers. Ulysse Nardin won the competition several years in a row, becoming the official supplier of the American Navy. This year, the pocket chronometer that Ulysse Nardin produced during this period for its military client has been resurrected as a limited-edition wristwatch, the Marine Torpilleur Military Semper Fortis, intended as a tribute piece to America’s navy.

Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur US Navy - reclining
The Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Semper Fortis celebrates the U.S. Navy.

The watch is distinguished from its predecessor, the original Marine Torpilleur launched earlier this year at SIHH 2018, in several significant respects. While it shares the same 44-mm-diameter, 50-meter water-resistant stainless steel case, with the fluted bezel reminiscent of those on early sea captains’ pocketwatches, the dial of the Torpilleur Military Semper Fortis features vintage-style Roman numerals rather than Arabic ones, along with a railway-track minute circle and blued, vintage-look hour and minute hands. Absent on the new watch’s prominent small seconds subdial is the red serial number denoting the original series’ limited edition of 300, along with the “C.W.” initials designating it as a “chronometer watch.” In its stead, Ulysse Nardin has added, at 12 o’clock, a subdial displaying the watch’s 60-hour power reserve, with the “24” numeral large and in red — a reference to the warning system on early marine chronometers that reminded sailors that only one full day of power remained in their watch and that it was time to re-wind it.

Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur US Navy - Front
The watch (above) takes design cues from a historical marin chronometer pocketwatch (below).

Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur US Navy - Pocket Watch

Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur US Navy - Power Reserve
The red “24” on the power-reserve subdial is a reminder to re-wind the watch.

The power reserve is more novelty than necessity on the modern watch, however, as it is powered by a self-winding movement, Ulysse Nardin’s Caliber UN-118, designed in-house and visible through a sapphire exhibition caseback. This caseback viewing window is also a departure from the design of the original Torpilleur models, which had solid, engraved casebacks. As one would expect from a watch of this pedigree, this movement boasts a COSC chronometer certification as well as Ulysse Nardin’s in-house certificate, indicating that it has passed a series of tests for timekeeping precision. In addition to the aforementioned lengthy power reserve, its technical highlights include an escapement made of a material called Diamonsil, which consists of synthetic diamond grown on a silicon base; an oscillator with a patented inertial balance wheel, and the patented silicon hairspring. The partially openworked rotor is enhanced with Ulysse Nardin’s nautically inspired anchor motif.

Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur US_Navy - Back
Ulysse Nardin’s in-house-designed Caliber 118 powers the watch.
Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur US_Navy - Profile
The model’s limited edition number (out of 173 pieces) appears in a plaque on the side of the case.
Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur US_Navy - Crown
Ulysse Nardin’s anchor logo decorates the screw-down crown.

The Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Military Semper Fortis, mounted on a blue sailcloth strap with four oversized white stitches, is limited to 173 pieces — one for each year since Ulysse Nardin founded his eponymous company in 1846. (For those unaware, “torpilleur” is a French term for a small, swift-moving torpedo boat and “Semper Fortis,” a Latin phrase meaning “Always Strong,” is the motto of the U.S. Navy, similar to the more familiar “Semper Fi” motto of the U.S. Marine Corps.) Priced at $7,900, and dropping in late September, the watch will be exclusively sold in the United States.

Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur US Navy - flat
The Marine Torpilleur series takes its name from the French term for a torpedo boat.
Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur US Navy - Wrist
The watch fastens securely to the wrist with a blue sailcloth strap.
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