With Fourth of July celebrations officially behind us in the United States and a record-setting heat wave spreading across mainland Europe, I think it’s fair to say that we’ve arrived in the dog days of summer. With all the discussion over the hot weather taking place on both sides of the Atlantic, it’s reminded me of a timepiece that arrived in my inbox a few months back. That watch, the Ulysse Nardin Skeleton X Magma, is an extremely bold take on the Executive Skeleton X design that was first unveiled in January at SIHH.
The Executive Skeleton X is, with all intents and purposes, a more accessible version of the Executive Skeleton Tourbillon that was launched in 2016. Ulysse Nardin effectively took the design of that watch, sans tourbillon, and rearranged the movement architecture to where it is now held in place via a rectangular bridge that extends outwards in four directions to form an “X” — hence the name. Four different versions of that watch were presented to the press in Geneva earlier this year in titanium, titanium black DLC, rose gold, and Carbonium gold — each offering a different take on the skeletonized look. The Carbonium gold iteration provides the most similar aesthetic to the new Magma watch. Carbonium is a lightweight material made of carbon fibers that is more typically associated with aeronautical engineering (Ulysse Nardin also released a version of the Freak X with a Carbonium case at SIHH 2019).
For the Skeleton X Carbonium, the brand fused the material with gold to create an impressive striated effect; for the Skeleton X Magma, UN used a similar process to combine carbon fiber with a marbled epoxy resin in bright red to create the case’s eye-catching appearance. According to Ulysse Nardin, this process means that each version of the Skeleton X Magma will turn out slightly differently, offering a level of individuality to each watch produced. Similar to the Carbonium version, the Skeleton X Magma is sized at 43 mm compared to 42 mm for the other designs in titanium and rose gold. Inside this unique case is the manually winding UN-371 movement with a four-day power reserve, an extra-wide 3-Hz silicon balance wheel with nickel flyweights, and a silicon “minuterie” gear train. The Ulysse Nardin Skeleton X Magma comes on a black leather strap with black stitching.
With such a flamboyant design, I’m sure Ulysse Nardin is well aware that the Skeleton Magma X will be a bit controversial among the more conservative enthusiast crowd, but I also have no doubt that the watch will find its target audience. Not only does the new watch represent an extremely solid alternative to trying to track down one of the latest Richard Mille creations at a quarter of the price, it also comes with a five-year warranty and quality you can trust from an established Swiss marque. It’s available now — just in time for the hottest portion of the year — and is priced at $25,000.