Previously known as both the Whitbread Round the World Race and The Volvo Ocean Race, The Ocean Race (which was recently renamed for the 2022-2023 edition) celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, and as the Official Timekeeper of this historic sailing event, Ulysse Nardin has created a new limited-edition timepiece as its latest release of 2023. After four months of racing at sea — starting in Alicante, Spain in January and stopping off at cities in Cape Verde, South Africa, and Brazil — The Ocean Race has most recently made a pit stop in Newport, Rhode Island (USA), where Ulysse Nardin has taken the opportunity to unveil its latest creation to the public. Officially known as the Ulysse Nardin The Ocean Race Diver Chronograph (yes, the inclusion of the word “the” in the formal title makes for a rather cumbersome name), this new limited-edition watch builds upon the core design of the standard-production models to create a new colorway that incorporates recycled materials and highlights Ulysse Nardin’s ongoing commitment to sustainability.
In terms of its core design and functionality, the new Ulysse Nardin The Ocean Race Diver Chronograph (ref. 1503-170LE-2A-TOR/3A) is largely the same as other titanium models from the current collection, such as the version we previously reviewed here. While the 44mm sandblasted titanium case has been carried over from the existing range, it has now been given a black DLC finish and fitted with a unidirectional rotating timing bezel with a concave insert made from Carbonium, which is Ulysse Nardin’s carbon composite material that was first introduced in 2019. The bezel insert features a white elapsed time scale with bright blue hashes to denote the five-mute markers that are positioned between the large white Arabic numerals located at the cardinal points. Blue and white are the official colors of The Ocean Race, and they also serve as the colorway of this latest limited-edition model, with the two bright tones set against the largely black case and strap of the watch.
While carbon composite bezel inserts can be found on a number of differnt models from the greater Ulysse Nardin Diver lineup, the Carbonium used on The Ocean Race Diver Chronograph incorporates recycled carbon fibers that have been reclaimed from airplane fuselage offcuts, and this results in a 40% lower environmental impact compared to other carbon composites. Just like the rest of the standard-production chronograph models from Ulysse Nardin’s Diver collection, The Ocean Race edition features a domed sapphire crystal protecting its dial, a screw-on display caseback, 300 meters of water resistance, and a signed screw-down crown located at 3 o’clock, which is flanked by a pair of chronograph pushers. However, to denote the 50th anniversary of The Ocean Race, this new limited-edition model includes a “50” printed on the underside surface of its sapphire display caseback, and the start/stop pusher located at 2 o’clock features a bright blue accent ring to match the colorway of the watch.
In much the same way that the overall design of the case has been carried over from previous Diver Chronograph models in the current lineup, the dial fitted to The Ocean Race edition also follows in the footsteps of its siblings, and it offers a three-register layout with a circular date window at the 6 o’clock location. Similar to other current-production Diver Chronograph models, the hands and hour markers are rhodium-plated and filled with Super-LumiNova; however, the dial fitted to The Ocean Race edition incorporates recycled materials in its construction, and it features a sandblasted surface with a matte black finish. The printing on the dial is primarily white, although it is punctuated by bright blue accents that complement the chronograph hands and the five-minute markings on the bezel.
Beyond the new colorway and updated finishing, the actual layout of the dial remains unchanged, and the new Ulysse Nardin The Ocean Race Dive Chronograph features a 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock, a 12-hour totalizer at 6 o’clock, and a running seconds sub-dial positioned at the 9 o’clock location. Additionally, while the three hands that display the time are given a polished rhodium-plated finish, the other three hands dedicated to the chronograph are painted bright blue, and this difference in colors helps to provide better at-a-glance reference of both the time and chronograph. While no mention of The Ocean Race appears on the dial, the 9 o’clock side of the case features a screw-on plaque that features an engraving of each watch’s individual limited-edition number finished in bright blue to match the accents on the dial and bezel.
Powering the new Ulysse Nardin The Ocean Race Dive Chronograph is the same in-house Caliber UN-150 automatic movement that can be found inside many of the brand’s other modern chronograph-equipped models. The Ulysse Nardin Cal. UN-150 has been around since 2013, and it offers a proven design with enough modern technology to still feel thoroughly contemporary when compared to other self-winding chronograph movements that are currently available. Running at a frequency of 28,800 bph (4Hz) with a power reserve of approximately 52 hours, the 318-component Caliber UN-150 is a three-register, 12-hour chronograph with the added utility of a date display, and it also features a balance wheel, anchor, and hairspring crafted from silicon for superior timekeeping and magnetic resistance.
Completing the new Ulysse Nardin The Ocean Race Dive Chronograph is a black rubber strap in the brand’s signature style that features a single link integrated into the 6 o’clock side. While the purpose of this single link is largely ornamental, it does help the strap articulate more on the side of the wrist that sees the most movement, and it ultimately helps increase the flexibility of what is already a rather soft and comfortable design. The strap slightly flares out at the lugs to offer a more integrated appearance with the case before tapering back down to the point where it meets its chunky signed pin buckle. Additionally, Rather than being crafted from DLC-coated titanium to match the case, both the strap link and pin buckle are made from black ceramic, and the link features an engraving of The Ocean Race logo that is finished in blue and white to match the rest of the watch.