Ulysse Nardin (the watch manufacturer, not its eponymous founder) turns 175 years old in 2021 and among the new timepieces it’s rolling out to mark the occasion is one that uniquely merges the two horological worlds it’s best known for in its modern incarnation: nautical design and seaworthy utility inspired by its marine-chronometer history, and a distinctly avant-garde brand of fine technical watchmaking. The Diver X Skeleton, a limited edition of 175 numbered pieces, incorporates both elements, to immediately take its place at the vanguard of the expanding Diver collection.
As its name implies, the watch is a hybrid of sorts that takes elements from both its Executive Skeleton and Diver families. The 44-mm-diameter, blue PVD-coated case is microbeaded on its sides and satin-polished on its lugs and features a rubber protector around its water-resistant crown. The unidirectional dive-scale bezel is made of blue Carbonium, a material first introduced in 2019 on Ulysse Nardin’s Freak X model.
Carbonium is a high-performance, super-lightweight material used in the production of airplane fuselages and wings for the aeronautics industry. It’s is also prized for the sustainability of its production process, which uses high pressures and temperatures to compress offcut carbon fibers (as small as 7 mm) into a robust, resilient material and results in 40 percent less environmental impact than other carbon composite materials. The process yields a distinctive marbled pattern that makes each finished piece unique. The bezel’s concave inverted design, which protects the domed sapphire crystal, helps ensure the watch’s professional-grade water resistance of 200 meters.
Maintaining the blue PVD “X” that dominates the watch’s skeletonized dial, a recurring motif in Ulysse Nardin’s recent releases, required a high level of technical complexity in the construction of the case, dial elements and movement. The hour markers, which appear to float above the surface along with the luminous-coated hands, needed to be unobtrusively connected to the dial’s base, and the central “X” required a tiered construction with overlaid layers to add to the sense of depth. Different levels of finishing were employed on various elements to maximize the transparency and play of light, through the front dial and into the openworked heart of the movement.
Speaking of the movement, Caliber UN-372, Ulysse Nardin tells us that it is a “completely redesigned” iteration of its Caliber UN-371, itself an evolution of the base Caliber UN-171 that has equipped several of Ulysse Nardin’s Executive models. The manufacturer has added an oscillating weight in the shape of the brand’s now-familiar “X,” and tops the movement’s spring barrel with a cover made of the same blue Carbonium as the bezel. Stored Inside that barrel is a power reserve of 96 hours. Like all Ulysse Nardin in-house calibers, Caliber 372 is chock full of silicon parts, including the oscillator, escape wheel, anchor and balance.
The Diver X Skeleton is connected to a rubber strap in either “ocean” blue or “supercharged” orange with the Ulysse Nardin anchor emblem. It’s priced at $22,000 on both straps.