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Ulysse Nardin - Diver X Skeleton : Straight From Davy Jones’ Locker

Ulysse Nardin Diver X Skeleton : Straight From Davy Jones’ Locker

Dive watches have gradually come to feature a series of complications, up to and including tourbillons

Strong, simple, readable, and functional: four words that sum up all dive watch specifications. Taken together, these requirements have constituted the foundational DNA for all dive watches since the early 1950s. However, observing these four cardinal points doesn’t stop anyone from adding some extra dimensions — and Ulysse Nardin decided to do just that when it came up with the idea of the skeleton dive watch. In April 2021 Ulysse Nardin’s irrepressible CEO Patrick Pruniaux cast dive watch conventions to the winds and unveiled the astounding Diver X Skeleton.

There had been harbingers from the brand: the Diver X Cap Horn, Nemo Point, and Antarctica watches released in the two preceding years. Nevertheless, the sheer ambition of the Diver X Skeleton is striking: preserving the X-shaped dial design of previous models whilst doing away with the dial altogether. The brand’s designers came up with a brilliant solution to this conundrum.

Diver X Skeleton : Straight From Davy Jones’ Locker

Diver X Skeleton © Ulysse NArdin


At the heart of the timepiece lies the X that constitutes the collection’s signature. The letter has been split into two halves, ‘> <’, supported by two navy blue and orange bridges highlighting its vertical profile. The successive hues mirror successive levels: the components of the figure X span several layers. The immediately surrounding area has been left empty, heightening the impression of a structure floating above the dial space. The oscillator at 6 o’clock, most of which (the escape wheel, pallet-lever and balance wheel) is made of silicon, literally outsize — and also appears to be floating in mid-air. The external parts of the watch are equally high-tech. The key word here is Carbonium®. Ulysse Nardin has a penchant for this material for several reasons: it’s light, strong, and environmentally-friendly, since the watch uses offcuts from aerospace construction. The cover of the heart of the movement, the barrel, is made of carbon fibre just 7 microns in diameter. Atop the titanium case, the bezel is also made of Carbonium® and in an unusual twist, is mounted ‘upside down’: having a concave bezel makes the piece look smaller than it actually is, a little trick that ensures the large 44mm-diameter case doesn’t dominate too much.

A Cutting-Edge Movement 

For the Diver X Skeleton’s movement (which boasts an exceptional power reserve of four days), Ulysse Nardin chose not to start from scratch, instead overhauling its UN-371 calibre (used for the brand’s Executive Skeleton collection), improving it with an oscillating weight structured in line with the iconic X and a Carbonium® barrel cover at 12 o’clock in the same shade of blue as the bezel and hands. The Diver X Skeleton name thus has a twofold pedigree: the X refers both to the distinctive central lette, and to the cross between the two collections from which it’s derived; the resulting imaginary collection would be the ‘Diver X Executive’. Well-regarded and rare, with only 175 numbered timepieces having been produced, its price is extremely attractive given the amount of stylistic and technical effort it involved: CHF 21,000 / €19,300 / $22,200.

This year GMT Magazine and WorldTempus have embarked on the ambitious project of summarising the divers watch since 2000 in The Millennium Watch Book - Divers watch, a big, beautifully laid out coffee table book. This article is an extract. The Millennium Watch Book - Divers watch is available in both French and English here:



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