A closer look at the Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Chronograph with annual calendar

For its 175th anniversary, Ulysse Nardin is introducing an impressive fleet of Marine Torpilleur limited editions. WatchTime set sail with the chronograph with annual calendar onboard.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Swiss watchmaker Ulysse Nardin blazed a trail as a supplier of chronometers to many of the world’s navies. In 2021, a year when the maison turned 175, and as a tribute to that legacy, it introduced a whole fleet of Torpilleur watches. Torpilleur is a French term that stands for a small boat designed to carry torpedoes into battle against larger, more heavily armed battleships. From the seven watches introduced, we spent some quality time with the Marine Torpilleur Chronograph with annual calendar.

The Marine Torpilleur Chronograph, powered by Ulysse Nardin's in-house chronograph movement UN-153 with an additional annual calendar mechanism. Like every model in the Marine collection, its design is an evolution of the many chronometers the brand had supplied to over 50 of the world's navies until the 1950s.

Quick recap
Established in 1846 by 23-year-old Ulysse Nardin (Jan. 22, 1823—Feb. 20, 1876), the Le Locle-based company quickly spotted the rising demand for pocket and marine chronometers that could measure time with the highest level of precision. As a consequence, Ulysse Nardin was awarded over 4,300 distinctions, including 18 gold medals, for the precision of its timekeepers over the following decades. Among its clients was also the US Navy. In 1905, the Washington Naval Observatory began organising a competition to find a manufacturer that could supply its torpedo boat officers with superior chronometers. Ulysse Nardin won the competition several years in a row, and established an ongoing relationship as an official supplier to the US Navy that lasted until the 1950s.

In 2017, the word 'Torpilleur' was reintroduced at Ulysse Nardin, fittingly chosen for a combatively priced watch with an in-house movement. “Chronometry has been our mantra for 175 years," says Ulysse Nardin President of America François-Xavier Hotier. "These new Marine limited editions are designed for our friends and collectors worldwide. We pay tribute to our past as supplier of most of the admiralties in the world. It’s a wonderful way to showcase this chapter of the manufacture’s past, and a fitting addition to the many cutting-edge pieces we’ve introduced in the last two years. In short, we can now travel back in time with this collection, focus on the present with the recent releases, or even look into the brand’s future with the UFO deck clock.”

The seven models of the Marine Torpilleur anniversary collection (refer to six above) highlight different aspects of the brand’s current competencies: In-house movements, silicon components, tourbillon and moon-phase, enamel dials and, in the case of the chronograph we are detailing here, also the additional measurement of elapsed time and an annual calendar. Ulysse Nardin has decided to equip only the watches powered by the automatic UN-118 (Enamel Blue and Panda) and UN-119 (Moonphase) with a COSC certificate. Hotier commented, “With the invention and use of new materials in our timepieces, such as silicon, we think it is more important to test the performance of the movement in its ready-to-wear state, i.e. once it has been put into the case with the dial and hands on it, in the same conditions the owner will wear the watch. That’s why we mostly focus on our own Ulysse Nardin certification; we test the movement’s performance, and also the additional functions such as calendar, chronograph, and power reserve indicator. We may get some of our watches COSC-certified, but our own certification should be more reassuring.”

Ulysse Nardin's UN-153 chronograph movement was first introduced in 2016 for the brand's 20th anniversary of the Marine collection. It is based on the UN-150 from 2014 but adds an annual calendar, adjustable both forward and backwards by using the crown.

The Marine Torpilleur Chronograph with annual calendar is available with either a varnished white or a matte blue dial, and is powered by the UN-153 manufacture movement that has replaced the earlier UN-150 movement. The dial is adorned with silvered counters at 9 and 3 o’clock, with the annual calendar being positioned at 9 o’clock. The date at 6 o’clock changes automatically (in sync with the month), and the annual calendar system (first used in the perpetual calibre model of 1996) is adjustable both forward and backward by using the large crown (which means that the month and day can be conveniently adjusted in both directions. Ulysse Nardin’s Caliber UN-153 is visible through a sapphire exhibition caseback, and the partially openworked rotor is decorated with the brand’s nautically inspired anchor motif surrounded by a frosted, textured surface.

The well-balanced dial consists of two subdials: The one at 9 o'clock is reserved for the continuous running seconds as well as for the month-of-the-year indicator in red.

The version shown here (Ref. 1533-320LE-0A-175/1A) boasts a crisp white dial showcasing Roman numeral hour markers, blued ‘pear’ steel hands, and a well-balanced bicompax chronograph layout. The watch is mounted on a brown leather strap with four oversized white stitches; a blue strap is also available for this version (Ref. 1533-320LE-0A-175/1B).

The large screw-down crown bears the Ulysse Nardin anchor symbol and the brand's initials

With a diameter of 44mm for its 50-metre water-resistant stainless steel case, the chronograph is the largest member of the Torpilleur collection, but doesn’t wear too big on the wrist, thanks to a compact length (lug-to-lug) of 49mm. Also, its white dial and blued hands make it versatile, sailing easily between an elegant and an almost sporty appearance. Dial legibility is good (and most likely better with the blue dial version), but, the lack of luminous material on the hands and dial reduces its capability for an after-dark cruise. 

The fluted bezel is one of the many classic hallmarks of marine instruments.

In comparison, the Torpilleur Chronograph is 0.66mm taller than an IWC Portugieser chronograph measuring 13.00mm, and has a diameter of 44mm compared to the 41mm steel case from IWC. Its main advantage, however, is probably the added annual calendar function, which is, next to the power-reserve indicator, an equally user-friendly as well as a convenient feature. Add to that an in-house movement, a distinctive nautical design, and a comparatively small number of watches produced, and you’ll get a lot of reasons to embark on a horological cruise with Ulysse Nardin. 

The satin-finished side plate is held by two blued screws and engraved with the individual number of each watch.

For nostalgic reasons, we would certainly not have been opposed to a ‘Chronometer’ on the dial of the chronograph, given the company’s stellar performance at the Neuchâtel Observatory, but, overall, the chronograph and the new Torpilleur collection do appear to have hit their target.

This story first appeared in WatchTime US, and was carried in the Oct-Dec 2021 issue of WatchTime India. To subscribe to the magazine, click here.


Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Chronograph


Ulysse Nardin SA, Rue du Jardin 3, 2400 Le Locle, Switzerland




Annual calendar, Chronograph, Hours, Minutes, Small seconds, Date, Anti-magnetic escapement


Self winding mechanical Caliber UN-153, 406 components, escapement wheel, balance spring and anchor in silicon, 28,200 vph (4Hz), 52-hour power reserve


Stainless Steel


Brown alligator leather strap with folding clasp




INR 10,35246 (approx.)

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