Dive watches have been a hot item since “The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau” hit the TV screens worldwide over 50 years ago, and rare is the watch company that does not offer a diver’s model. Within one price category, they often share a similar design, performance characteristics are usually on the level, and should you scrape off the brand name, they are the same when laid out in front of you on the table. So, what do you do? You search for something different, something that offers a little extra or strikes a chord. And the search may lead you to the Beluga, the dive watch that Ultramarine added recently to its short list of models.
Lionel Bruneau, the founder of the young brand Ultramarine, explains that at one point, he decided to make 100% Swiss watches under his own brand name as he was not satisfied with the market offering of Swiss Made – with a requirement of only 60% of the components’ value to be of a Swiss origin. The Morse and Albatros, the brand’s first two models, were marked as I.O.E.S. – Intégralement Ouvré en Suisse, meaning “Fully Manufactured in Switzerland”. They were equipped with Eterna movements and offered to the public for a little less than EUR 2k (VAT excluded). Both were nicely executed, Morse had a GMT and date complications, Albatros was a time-only, with central seconds, and both came with a 3-year warranty.
The brand’s latest model, the Ultramarine Beluga, is priced at EUR 3,250 (VAT excluded), which means that Pelagos FXD, the Diver’s Watch Prize winner at the GPHG this year, would cost you less – EUR 3,040 (VAT excluded), should you find one in store. There has to be some serious added value to the Ultramarine offer, and I believe there is. It strikes a chord, and it is a well-made diver’s watch.
The Beluga is not named after a Russian diesel-electric submarine project abandoned in the 1990s (Project 1710 Makrel, NATO reporting name “Beluga”), nor after a great sturgeon (huso huso), or its beluga caviar. Beluga whales, very friendly and intelligent mammals that live in the Arctic in pods ranging from a few to hundreds, are brought into focus by Ultramarine to remind us of their near-extinct status.
The watch that highlights these endangered species, the Ultramarine Beluga, is aesthetically pleasing, with all the design elements one would expect to see in a diver at this price. It comes in a 40mm stainless steel case with polished and brushed surfaces, with a uni-directional rotating bezel with a sapphire crystal insert and indices painted with Super-LumiNova. The domed sapphire crystal protects the pad-printed dial with a sunray-brushed finish, while the logo and applied indexes are coated with Super-LumiNova. The model name, Beluga, water-resistance of 300 metres and the chronometer indications are just below the centre, and an I.O.E.S. declaration is right under the “6” marker. The steel caseback is screwed and decorated with engraved belugas, and the crown bears an Ultramarine logo. Inside, an automatic Kenissi 5402-01 COSC-certified chronometer movement with 70 hours of power reserve operates at 28,800 vibrations/hour (just like the FXD…)
The Ultramarine Beluga will be available in four references: a blue dial and blue bezel, an ice blue dial and black bezel, or with a black and black colour combination. The number four, also black, is a little different, as it is a special 100-piece limited edition of the Ultramarine Beluga, launched to support the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, with “a sole mission is to protect and conserve the world’s oceans and marine wildlife“. The dial of the Beluga Sea Shepherd bears a skull with a shepherd’s crook and Neptune’s trident, the N.G.O.’s logo, and the caseback is also decorated with this image. Ultramarine will donate EUR 800 to the Sea Shepherd from every special edition watch sold, which could add up to 80k. A sizable donation.
The Ultramarine Beluga models are sold with a rubber or leather strap for regular references, or a recycled NATO strap for the Sea Shepherd edition, with a stainless steel buckle. Deliveries are expected in the second semester of 2023. For more information, please visit www.ultramarine-watches.com.