Sports meets transparency meets high-tech with the new Ulysse Nardin Diver X Skeleton
Editor’s note: Like you, we are also excited for the releases from the Watches & Wonders 2021. Before we get to dive deep into the releases and go hands-on with as many of these as the two of us here can, here’s our preview and the Gut Reaction Review (Grr…) of the new Ulysse Nardin Diver X Skeleton. For our other detailed hands-on reviews, please head to our dedicated reviews section here.
I remember in the US TV sitcom F.R.I.E.N.D.S (season 10), at some point in the cafe, Joey is asked which does he prefer: food or sex? Unable to decide, he replies, “I want both. I want girls on bread!”. The new Ulysse Nardin Diver X Skeleton is essentially that: UN taking the best of two worlds, fine watchmaking and dive watches.
Dive watches aren’t always associated with fine watchmaking. After all, divers are essentially ‘beaters’, that are meant to follow the form and function of daily drivers more or less. Fine watchmaking on the other hand is more refined, elusive, expensive, and differently finished; by very fibre of its being, let’s just say it’s more delicate than a diver. Ulysse Nardin, wanting to change the status quo, decided to combine the two; they took their existing Diver X and Skeleton X and fused them together to create an exclusive edition of skeleton diving watches limited to 175 numbered timepieces (for 175 years of UN’s horological history).
The result: big, bold, blue and skeletonised divers finished to excelling quality and bearing UN’s horological prowess.
Of course, when it comes to UN’s ‘X’ series, the first impression is always to marvel at the big ‘X’ lording over the dial; and despite being a skeletonised diver, I am pleased to note that the ‘X’ still takes centerstage. The blue PVD X is a display of the brand’s technical knowhow wizardry, taking all sorts of measures to ensure its prominence: the floating hour markers are secretly connected to the dial and overlaid layers are used to emphasise the tiered construction of the central ‘X’, along with the presence of different levels of finishings to harness the play of light in the dial’s favour.
Not content with combining the design of Diver X and Skeleton X, UN has also brought in the big guns from their FREAK X series, by fashioning the concave inverted unidirectional rotating bezel from blue Carbonium®, a material originally used on its FREAK X.
Watches & Wonders 2021 presents the new Ulysse Nardin Diver X Skeleton ref. 3723-170LE-3A-BLUE/3B (orange strap) or ref. 3723-170LE-3A-BLUE/3A (blue Strap). Retailing for 21’000 CHF, this limited edition release of 175-pieces only features the UN-372 caliber that comprises of 23 jewels, 171 components, beats at the low frequency of 3Hz, and offers a very impressive 96-hour power reserve.
The automatic winding UN-372 caliber is based on the existing UN371 movement that has been redesigned to incorporate an oscillating weight in the shape of Ulysse Nardin’s iconic X.
The movement is encased inside a 44mm diameter blue PVD case micro-beaded on the sides with satin polished lugs. There is obviously sapphire crystal on both ends and the case featured 200m water resistance.
In 2019, the brand launched two new limited edition — 300 pieces each — releases to mark the Vendée Globe race, the world’s most daunting open-ocean race. Two new editions, the Diver X Cape Horn and Diver X Nemo Point were released to front the brand’s sponsorship of the event.
Now two years later, they are bringing the soul of those watches to your wrist, sans the extra flesh.
The Diver X Cape Horn and Diver X Nemo Point were similar but different: the references 1183-170LE/92-CAP (Cape Horn version) or 1183-170LE/93-NEMO (Nemo Point version) featured a different calibre, the UN-118, but it was inside the same 44mm diameter case. The case material has been changed from black DLC-coated titanium to blue PVD. The watched offered a decent 60-hour power reserve and water resistance of 300m (30 ATM). The roles have reversed in the Ulysse Nardin Diver X Skeleton, where the power-reserve have been increased but water-resistance decreased.
Talking about differences, one of the technical differences is in the use of the Carbonium ® material for the bezel. Carbonium ® is an extremely lightweight aerospace material, robust and durable, and given its manufacturing process involves using waste materials, it has a 40% lower environmental impact than other carbon.
“Ulysse Nardin’s links with the sea are as deep as the ocean itself. The Swiss Maison was a pioneer in watchmaking innovation from 1846, when the brand cemented its reputation for incomparably accurate marine chronometers; robust navigational instruments that allowed sailors to calculate longitude at sea. Now Ulysse Nardin is reaffirming its status as a watchmaker destined to rule the oceans with the arrival of the DIVER X SKELETON”.
I haven’t handled the watch in person yet, and have not been informed of the case’s thickness by the brand, so I can’t really tell how it would wear, but given its already 44mm in diameter, my hunch is not-so-well on my 16cm wrists. My suggestion? A 42mm diameter size would have been more universally suited.
That’s All Folks!
Since 1846 Ulysse Nardin has maintained its links with the nautical world; this limited edition release stands in true testimony to that.
A funky looking timepiece, supercharged with the brand’s 175 years of watchmaking, it is embedded in its ties with the marine world, and masterfully combines the features of three models, alongside boasting of an impressive 96-hour power reserve and 200m water resistance.
Providing legibility to the intricately busy dial are the hours, minutes and seconds hands coated with Superluminova, and bringing coherency to the design language is the incorporation of a barrel cover placed at midday with a blue Carbonium® to tie in the bezel.
Last but not least what caught my attention was how different the watch looked when simply the strap was changed from blue to orange. The new Ulysse Nardin Diver X Skeleton comes on either an ocean blue rubber strap or supercharged orange strap, with the latter combo being my favourite, purely based on how well the orange strap complements the subtle use of orange on the central dial ‘X’, the bezel markers and lug guards.
On the whole, there is enough watchmaking cred and stylish aesthetic for watch connoisseurs and marine enthusiasts to soak in the splash the new diver from Ulysse Nardin makes.
To find out more about the new Ulysse Nardin Diver X Skeleton and other UN watches, please head to their website here. All images unless otherwise specified are © 2021 Ulysse Nardin. Make sure to check out our reviews of other Watches & Wonders 2021 releases here.