Ulysse Nardin draws inspiration from a bunch of qualities in the letter X, which is the roman numeral for 10 and also frequently used in automotive sports lines. Its design is fancy though admittedly it is a feat to distinguish a product from the formulaic sporty case material (alloys, carbons, Hublot-era fusion concept of mixed metals) and skeleton dial. Cue — Richard Mille, TagHeuer, Hublot, Zenith, and Richemont’s response with Roger Dubuis.
Review: Ulysse Nardin Diver X Skeleton Black
Retail price for the UN Diver X Skeleton Black is set at SGD 36,300 inclusive of GST (24’500 CHF / 23’300 EUR / 25’800 USD). Limited Edition of 175 pieces.
Commentary from an earlier press release “The combination of a skeleton movement and a divers watch seems to be at odds to each other. The diver watch is regarded as the epitome of a hardy, strong watch, capable of withstanding not only the pressures of the depths and the rigours of a diving habitat, but also needs the ruggedness as the diver’s life may depend on it working well. And often, skeletonising a movement will reduce the structural integrity, making it less rugged than a regular one. So it is rather interesting that UN has chosen to combine these two traits into one watch. The original design was a 10 piece limited edition to celebrate the new partnership between UN and Sediqqi. Sediqqi is the largest retailer in the UAE, and a force to be reckoned with in the world of luxury watch retail. It was revealed as a sneak peak of 10 watches in Dubai Watch week 2021, with the release announcing that a further 175 pieces will be available in 2022.”
The Case and Dial
The Diver X Skeleton case measures 44mm and is set in a titanium black DLC sandblasted and satin finished case. Geometry is a central concept in the design of the watch. The dial shows an X formed by four of the indexes. Its bezel uses a concave black Carbonium® and rotates in one direction. The aeronautic-grade Carbonium ® is a super-light and sustainable material used in the production of the latest-generation airplanes’ fuselage and wings.
The production of Carbonium ® has 40% less environmental impact than other carbon composites as it uses offcuts from aeronautical pieces. With complex process requiring high pressures and temperatures, Carbonium ® is a high-performance material that brings out the core beauty of the organic pattern created by the 7µm diameter carbon fibers.
The movement is one of the innovations of the watch’s antecedent, the FREAK VISION: a super-light balance wheel in silicium, extra-wide, with nickel flyweights and stabilizing micro-blades. The Manufacture movement, the UN-372 caliber, uses a silicium escape wheel and oscillator, anchor and balance spring for improved anti-magnetism. It’s self-winding and beats at 3 Hz and has 72 hours of power reserve.
The DIVER X SKELETON BLACK limited to 175 timepieces comes with both a yellow rubber strap and a black fabric R-strap made of upcycled polyamide from fishing nets. It is priced at 24’500 CHF. At this price point, it competes with brands like Zenith and Hublot.
Skeleton watches or openworked designs may need more time to become as iconic as classic designs – apart from Richard Mille, which may be recognizable more for its case shape rather than its dials. In terms of popularizing the concept in a production timepiece, Hublot probably was the trendsetter with the Aerobang, Big Bang etc. Tag Heuer imported the idea and introduced it to its Carrera, then all the other LVMH brands followed suit, Bulgari’s Octo, Zenith’s Defy. Swatch replies with Jacquet Droz, Richemont with Roger Dubuis. Other brands like Girard Perregaux, Arnold & Son also join the fray.
Skeleton dials are intricate, and give the impression of a super engineered mechanical object. It can display watchmaker workmanship and skills. Contrasting colored cases, textured surfaces like carbon, bronze, are still fashionable today. This combination is likely what the market buys into today which explains for the catch-up products still emerging today. It’s a product fit for those who want alternatives to the traditional classic and sports watch designs; a telling sign of an emerging market taste seeking more unconventional styles.