The new Ulysse Nardin Classico Manufacture with Grand Feu blue dial has three unique selling points. An in-house self-winding movement. A blue dial also made in-house, by Ulysse Nardin group’s dial manufacturer Donzé Cadrans. And a competitive price, €8,900, $8,800. Not much more than last year’s limited edition Classico Manufacture.
Guilloché enamel dial
Donzé Cadrans was founded by Francis Donzé in 1972, and began working with Ulysse Nardin in the 1980s. The watch brand purchased Donzé Cadrans in 2012. The grand feu process is lengthy, and for a watch such as the Classico Manufaccture, it is even more complex, because the enamel is fired in successive stages over the guilloché decoration of the dial blank. The result is a wavy pattern that catches the light according to the angle, and has a sort of translucent gleam. The blue dial creates a perfect contrast with the bright steel case. At 40 mm diameter and 9.6 mm thickness, the case makes the watch easy to wear, easily slipping under a shirt cuff. The strap is curved at the junction with the case, further improving the product’s good looks.
The UN-320 movement is visible through the sapphire caseback window. It is an 11.5 ligne movement, about 26 mm, and so the window is much smaller than the caseback. But the movement is attractive with the decorated oscillating weight. It is a high-technology calibre, with hairspring and anchor escapement in silicium, a material that is hard to work but provides antimagnetic properties and more constant rates at different temperatures. The movement was designed to permit date adjustment forwards or backwards. It has 39 jewels, and a power reserve of about 48 hours.
Balanced dial layout
The dial is balanced and graceful, with the wavy enamel given space to breathe. The circular date window is nicely integrated into the small seconds subdial, creating a sequence of circles within circles that is echoed by the caseback view. This is one of the few watches in which the date window adds something rather than being an extraneous presence. Often the date window is something required by the marketing department even though the designers would probably prefer to do without. The blue guilloché dial and the Roman numerals give the watch something of a marine look, but this piece is part of the Classic collection, and so it has the standard water resistance of 30 metres/3 bar.
Reference and price
The Ulysse Nardin Classico Manufacture Grand Feu is an unlimited edition, reference 3203-136-2/E3, price €8,900, $8,800. Further details from the Ulysse Nardin website.