In 2013 Ulysse Nardin has begun producing their own in-house made chronograph movements with the caliber UN-150, adding to their roster of in-house movements and serving as a base for the Marine Chronograph Manufacture watch collection. With a limited edition model featuring an in-house made enamel, as well as a broad range of standard models, the caliber UN-150 sees a full deployment in the Marine watch collection for this year.
Just one year ago, Ulysse Nardin officially unveiled its first “large volume” in-house made movement with the caliber UN-118 (hands on here in the Marine Chronometer Manufacture watches). The UN-118 was the subject of many years of development pretty much starting back when Swiss ETA announced that it was going to make its movements unavailable to most watch brands outside of the Swatch Group. The Group which owns ETA, after a series of legal battles with the Swiss government, decided it wanted to dramatically decrease supply of ETA movements to outside brands, and keep most of them for Swatch Group brands. Their message to many of the Swiss brands that once relied upon ETA movements (even as base movements) was “make your own movements.”
After closing the grip, the top element is secured, then bottom, which seems slightly counter-intuitive. The three-element grip in addition to the badge provide the rubber strap an unmistakable Ulysse Nardin look.The 43mm fluted situation using its own Pen barrel is a mixture of steel and titanium, which means the watch is remarkably light on the wrist and won’t impede rapid action on the deck. The remaining side of this case has an affixed badge using the watch number in an elegant script. The steel bezel, the heaviest part of this circumstance, using its coin edged bezel avoids making the watch. The caseback is fastened by six screws, and has a sapphire crystal for seeing the movement. Should fingers be moist, the blue, no-slip, rubberized coating of this crown edge is a subtle, yet functional, clue of water being the watch’s habitat.Self-winding calibre UN-118 has a patented escapement, oscillator, and hairspring. Ulysse Nardin’s initial partnership with and then buy of Sigatec allowed them to perfect a DIAMonSIL escapement; DIAMonSIL is the proprietary diamond coated silicon material. As it came time to introduce this mechanical achievement, the business opted to present the movement in their Marine Chronometers. The overdue Rolf Schnyder in 2006 introduced a limited-number, in-house calibre 160, and current CEO Patrik Hoffmann in 2012 realized the dream by providing UN-118 as the very first in-house, full manufacturing movement. We waxed eloquently about the technical marvels of the COSC certified movement in our prior article, so now we can talk about the motion appearance.
So Ulysse Nardin worked on doing just that, though in-house movements aren’t new to them. All of the top-end Ulysse Nardin pieces already contained in-house movements. Having said that, the industrial needs to make a select amount of very complicated movements is very different (and arguably much more doable) than producing more basic mechanisms in larger quantities. Both designing and producing movements in-house is a rather expensive and tricky feat.
The basic Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronometer watch never simply relied on an ETA movement, but rather used ETA movements (mostly the 2892 automatic) as a base. They would then install their own modules over them. In comparison to many other independent brands, Ulysse Nardin was actually in a pretty good position to try and fully produce in-house made movements. The UN-118 automatic contained a technology Ulysse Nardin acquired known as DIAMonSIL. A contraction for “diamond and silicon,” it is a diamond-coated silicon which has the benefits of silicon without the fragility and brittleness.
DIAMonSIL was very exciting but it does not appear to be in the UN-150 movement. There are a few potential reasons for this, but I am not going to guess as I don’t know the exact answer. Having said that, the UN-150 does employ silicon in the form of the hairspring as part of the oscillator assembly. Overall, the movement not only has a great look but should also perform as most modern chronographs do. It is a 4Hz (28,800 bph) movement with a power reserve of 48 hours. Functions are pretty standard; it displays the time, date, and has a 12 hour chronograph. While the movement is produced in-house by Ulysse Nardin, it actually came to them serendipitously as an acquisition.