Ulysse Nardin Men’s Replica likens it to the boom of a yacht – the horizontal spar that is used to angle the sail – but its size and position on the dial of the Grand Deck Marine Tourbillon are also reminiscent of the old compasses that navigators would use to plot their courses. Yet the unique retrograde minute hand which is the focal point of this new piece is based on cutting-edge technology. The nano-wire that pushes and pulls the blue aluminium hand is barely visible on the dial, since it measures just 0.0357mm in diameter and is thus thinner than a human hair. Nevertheless, this high-tech polyethelene Dyneema® fibre can withstand a traction force of 1.41 kilogrammes. It is non-deforming and inelastic. In fact, for a number of years it was kept top-secret because it was used in bullet-proof vests.
This original complication has been over five years in the making as a collaboration with Christophe Claret that started before the death of former Ulysse Nardin CEO Rolf Schnyder. The long minute hand sweeps across a hand-crafted wood marquetry dial that recalls the deck of yacht and is therefore fully in keeping with the maritime universe that pervades the piece, indicating the minutes on a horizontal arc of translucent blue spinel across the centre of the dial. Railings around the flange of the case and purely decorative wires emanating from the 12 o’clock position reinforce the nautical theme.
Unusually for a tourbillon model, the 44mm case in white gold is water resistant to 100 metres thanks to details such as the screw in crown. Inside, the UN-630 calibre manually wound movement with 60-second flying tourbillon beats at a frequency of 3Hz and offers a power reserve of at least 48 hours. As an original form of power reserve indication, the barrels are skeletonized so that the owner can see the relative tension of the mainspring and wind the replica watch if necessary, replica watching it gradually coil up into the centre of the barrels. One barrel serves purely for the running of the movement, while the other is used to operate the system of four pulleys to display the minutes. The jumping hours are clearly visible in a window at 12 o’clock with black Arabic numerals on white disks.
The Ulysse Nardin Grand Deck Marine Tourbillon Replica is a limited edition of just 18 pieces, each costing 280,000 Swiss francs. It is, therefore, a piece that is reserved for connoisseurs of the very finest in replica watchmaking who have decidedly nautical interests.