Watches & Wonders Miami takes place concurrently with the Miami Yacht Show, so what better place for Ulysse Nardin —whose historical connection to the sea and maritime navigation few brands can match — to launch its latest high-horology nautical masterpiece, the Marine Mega Yacht? Here’s what we learned about this luxurious platinum-cased timepiece, limited to just 30 pieces.
The Marine Mega Yacht is a follow-up to 2016’s Grand Deck Tourbillon, but whereas that groundbreaking timepiece channeled the look of classical wooden sailboats, this one is influenced by the more sleek, high-tech look of contemporary luxury yachts. The teakwood pattern of the earlier watch’s dial here gives way to a combination of white gold and blue grand feu enamel, with the bow of a luxury vessel depicted emerging from misty, foaming ocean waves. As it did for the Grand Deck, Ulysse Nardin teamed up with inventive complications guru Christophe Claret to develop and build the Mega Yacht. Among its technical talking points are a flying tourbillon at 6 o’clock, which rotates once every 60 seconds, whose specially designed propellor blades resemble those used on luxury vessels.
The watch’s manual-winding mechanism is designed to simulate the raising and dropping of the anchor on a boat. Its power reserve — a respectable 80 hours — is displayed by a small, plowshare-design anchor linked to a chain by an anchor ring. The chain is linked to a miniature windlass, a type of winch used to hoist anchors and other heavy objects, built into the movement and visible through a large aperture at 12 o’clock. The windlass, connected by wheels to the winding mechanism, raises the anchor from 0 to 8 on a horizontal scale as the wearer winds the watch, and the anchor lowers as the mainspring runs down.
The Marine Mega Yacht also includes a very modern and precise type of moon-phase display as well as a sophisticated indicator for the heights of tides — two features that are interconnected as well as of practical use to the navigator of a luxury liner. The 3D spherical moon, which rotates inside a round window at 9 o’clock, boasts a photo-realistic depiction of the actual lunar surface. It is constructed from two precisely engraved half-spheres, one treated in blue PVD (for the dark “new moon” phases), the other rhodiumed (to represent the illuminated “full moon” sectors). A window on the side of the case middle — designed to resemble the screen of the Chadburn Telegraphs used by captains on the bridges of ships to communicate with the engine room — reveals the position of the winding crown: “S” for setting the time on the hands, “W” for winding the movement, and the intermediate “T/M” position in which the wearer can regulate the moon phase and tide volume. One counter-clockwise turn of the crown in this position represents four days in the lunar scale, while one clockwise turn moves the tidal indicator disk 1/4 around the rotation, or 9.5 hours.
The 44-mm platinum case is water-resistant to 50 meters and houses the UN-631 caliber, comprised of 504 components and beating at a frequency of 21,600 vph. On display behind a clear sapphire caseback, this custom-made manual-wound movement is designed to resemble the machinery in a yacht’s engine room. The watch’s precious metal hull is fully integrated into its navy blue alligator strap. Each of the 30 pieces offers a plaque in the side of the watch upon which an owner can order a personal engraved name of motto.