This is a watch with a lot of history behind it. The watch in something like its present configuration was launched by Ulysse Nardin in about 2000 and has since been made in many different models, but its origin runs right back to its 19th-century deck chronometers. In the photo below (from the book Ulysse Nardin: History in Time), the chronometer has a power reserve indicator at the top of the dial, continuous seconds at the bottom, an arrangement that was perpetuated in the brand’s Marine Chronometer watches, and in the Marine Diver series. The history gives it its unique looks making it a distinctive alternative to the Rolex-style diving watches.
This year’s variant is in 18-carat gold with a rubber strap. Dial and bezel are decorated with a wave-type texture. The case is large at 44 millimetres, probably about 14 mm thickness, but it is given a touch of grace by the tapering, profiled lugs. Though a prestige watch, it is also inherently practical for diving, with the screw-down crown with a rubber insert for easy grip, the distinctive serrations on the unidirectional bezel, and the fantastic chunky hands and hour markers, with lots of SuperLuminova. The continuous seconds hand is also luminous, so that a diver can be sure that the watch is working. Its water-resistance rating is 300 metres; the caseback is solid and decorated by an engraving of a boat with the inscription “Conquer the ocean.”
The movement is the UN-26, based on the ETA 2892-A2 and modified to move the continuous seconds to the base of the dial and adding the power reserve indicator at the top. The extra module added to achieve this is placed on top of the base movement, increasing the distance between the top of the dial and the date wheel visible through a circular well and magnified by a lens on the watchglass. Power reserve is about 42 hours.
The Ulysse Nardin Gold Highlights Marine Diver is available as:
Black dial and black rubber strap with elements in gold, reference 266-10-3/92, price €29,800;
Dark blue dial and rubber strap with elements in gold, reference 266-10-3/93, price €29,800;
Black dial and black rubber strap without elements in gold, reference 266-10-3C/92, price €22,600;