Ulysse Nardin places its silicon Ulysse Anchor Constant Escapement at the center of a new watch, the Blast Free Wheel Marquetry, which dramatically utilizes silicon as an artistic material. The watchmaker pioneered the use of silicon components for watchmaking, debuting them in the first Ulysse Nardin Freak in 2001.

The new Ulysse Nardin Blast Free Wheel Marquetry.

The 45mm white gold watch, which debuts during Geneva Watch Week, joins the watchmaker’s collection of impressive Blast Free Wheel models characterized by raised, free-floating components.

The components are part of the innovative UN-176 movement, are here set amid an eye-catching blue pattern made from a multi-colored silicon marquetry disc, a debut for the Blast collection. 

The dial includes 103 radiant blue marquetry slivers made of a variety of thin matte and mirror-polished silicon surfaces. The surfaces vary in thickness from 0.30mm and 0.35mm, with their changing reflections and contrasts creating the dial’s visual splendor.

Ulysse Nardin also decorates the back plate with blue silicon, here in a single-plate form with a series of well-placed apertures that frame a few of the movement’s gears and pivots.

To review, the Free Wheel concept is Ulysse Nardin’s ode to historic mystery clocks, with a few visible components floating above a dial operating in harmony thanks to cleverly placed gearing below.

A dual barrel at the top of the dial is wound manually, delivering seven-days of power through the Ulysse Nardin flying tourbillon set with Ulysse Nardin’s unusual in-house, silicon Anchor Escapement. 

Also seen on the dial: The flying barrel (at 12 o’clock, without any visible attachment on the surface), flanked by an intermediate wheel on its left, a power reserve differential, and a reduction gear on its right.

The one-piece gold case is also unusual, featuring a cutout exposing the sapphire crystal box that offers a stunning, wide-open view of the movement through the sides.

The focus of the movement, the Ulysse Anchor Constant Escapement, is circular with a pallet fork fixed in the center supported on two ultra-thin blade springs. These spring are mounted perpendicular to each other and bend to provide a perfectly even impulse on the balance wheel regardless of power reserve.

The Ulysse Anchor Constant Escapement with escapement wheel, anchor & balance spring in silicon.

The Ulysse Anchor Constant Escapement is a major departure from the traditional Swiss anchor escapement. Its inclusion in the Ulysse Nardin Anchor Tourbillon is the likely reason it won the Tourbillon Prize at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève in 2015. 

Price: $137,200


Greubel Forsey plans to nearly triple the size of its manufacturing facility in La Chaux-de-Fonds with an investment of 20 million Swiss francs. Set to be completed by 2026, the expansion is aimed at strengthening the watchmaker’s research and development, heighten its watchmaking autonomy and gradually increase production capacity.

Expanding from 2,000 square meters to 5,460 square meters, Greubel Forsey intends to build a new building that will encompass the existing structure (which dates from 2009) while retaining the architectural features specific to this site. Work is scheduled to start in the first quarter of 2024, marking the brand’s 20th anniversary.

The underground level of the new facility will include storage areas and an employee wellness room, while the ground floor will house production, logistics, quality control and R&D areas. The upper floors will be dedicated to assembly, hand finishing, clean rooms, laboratories, product development with research and design offices, as well as after-sales service, administration and other related areas.

The adjacent 17th-century farmhouse, a symbol of Greubel Forsey’s traditional roots, will be transformed into a VIP area, a lounge, a museum and a restoration workshop.

The Greubel Forsey GMT Balancier Convexe.

“This new facility will enable us to integrate new skill sets, create new workshops – especially in R&D Innovation – and push the boundaries of hand finishing excellence with a team dedicated solely to hand finishing R&D,” says Greubel Forsey CEO Antonio Calce. He adds that a number of workshops will be set up, including one dedicated solely to mastering the regulating organ (balance spring and balance wheel) and another to making complex cases.

Greubel Forsey’s 30˚ inclined balance wheel, seemingly suspended in mid-air, is held by a beautiful flat black polished and barrel polished steel balance wheel bridge on polished steel pillars.

Greubel Forsey reports that in 2022 it manufactured 260 timepieces, all of which were delivered to collectors and enthusiasts. Look to the watchmaker launching new timepieces and an 8th Fundamental Invention this year.

Source: Greubel Forsey 

At its annual World Presentation of Haute Horologerie (WPHH) a few weeks ago Franck Muller unveiled seventeen new models, including numerous updates to its Curvex CX series of emblematic ‘Curvex’ tonneau-shaped watches.

The new Franck Muller Curvex CX Grand Central Flash Tourbillon, available in a variety of case metals and with colorful markers and straps.

Here we’ll detail the new Curvex CX Grand Central Flash Tourbillon, one of the focus debuts in 2023 for Franck Muller.     

Inspired by futuristic car designs, Franck Muller created the new Curvex CX Grand Central Flash Tourbillon to highlight its hot, award-winning central tourbillon design while also expanding the collection’s case material options.

You may recall that with the existing Grand Central Tourbillon series Franck Muller’s watchmakers found an innovative way to place the hour and second hands around the tourbillon cage, highlighting the large central tourbillon and – for its debut series – a guilloché dial.

Now Franck Muller places the same technical design into a much more contemporary setting, surrounding the skeletonized tourbillon with brightly colored fluorescent indexes set into a deep matte black dial. The series includes models cased in titanium, steel and carbon composites. 

Franck Muller explains that the new design is meant to focus the eye to center of the dial to highlight the Central Tourbillon.

To assist, Franck Muller also added a fluorescent arrow to the tourbillon’s cage bridge to act as the seconds indicator. “This arrow rotates around the Central Tourbillon like an electron around its nucleus,” notes Franck Muller’s in-house description. 

The Curvex CX case is an effective frame for the tourbillon. The watch’s sapphire crystal extends all the way to the bracelet, and the watch’s fairly thin bezel also maintains the focus on the dial, while also can be treated with either a matching or contrasting finish.

Franck Muller maintains a technical mind-set by attaching many of the new watches to colorful textile straps. 

Price: $130,600. 

Other 2023 Curvex CX Debuts

Also new in 2023, Franck Muller adds its Giga Tourbillon to the Curvex CX collection to create the new skeletonized Curvex CX Giga Tourbillon (below).

In addition, Franck Muller expands the Curvex CX collection to include two new sizes, 30mm and 33mm, which makes the collection now available for feminine or smaller wrists.

The new Franck Muller Curvex CX Lady.

Also new in 2023, look for a more subdued model in the collection, the Curvex CX Piano ($9,400 to $18,100), which offers glossy black dial with no markers. This classy model accentuates a stunning black lacquér dial and is offered in a variety of case metals.

The new Franck Muller Curvex CX Piano, available in steel and gold cases.

We’ll have more about these additions to the Curvex CX collection, plus details about the new Skafander watches and a host of new Vanguard watches, in future posts.

A selection of 2023 Franck Muller debuts.

Next week, we’ll start with details on one of those new Vanguard models that includes three variations cased in Damascus steel. In the meantime check the Franck Muller website for details about these all the other WPHH 2023 debuts. 

Louis Vuitton extends one of its most dramatic ongoing collections, the Tambour Moon Flying Tourbillon Poinçon de Genève, adding two hard-to-miss new models. 

One of two new Louis Vuitton Tambour Moon Flying Tourbillon models, each cased in fluorescent sapphire.

In addition to the collection’s existing clear, blue- or pink-tinted sapphire-cased models, Louis Vuitton now adds one new watch cased in fluorescent green sapphire and the other in a fluorescent yellow sapphire case.

Touted by Louis Vuitton as “the first watch collection with a sapphire case to bear Geneva Seal,” the new The Tambour Moon Flying Tourbillon “Poinçon de Genève” debuts are brilliant in their new color.

Created by heating aluminum oxide at temperatures of around 2,000° Celsius, the sapphire cases are each cut from a from a single block of colored synthetic sapphire. 

The material protects Louis Vuitton’s LV90 caliber, a high-performance openwork movement regulated by a flying tourbillon. The hand-wound movement offers a superior power reserve of eighty hours.

Louis Vuitton explains that each case requires 420 hours of complex operations on digitally controlled machines working with diamond tools. “The 10mm thick monobloc part alone, comprising the case middle, the bezel and the glass, requires 100 hours of milling and 150 hours of polishing. The case back needs fifty hours of machining and sixty hours of hand and machine finishing to become fully transparent and ready for assembly. Finally, the transparent bridge bearing the LV logo takes twenty hours of cutting and forty hours of manual finishing,” according to the manufacturer.

Louis Vuitton attaches the case to a leather strap using black PVD-treated titanium lugs, attached by screws. The watch’s indexes and brand-name lettering are lacquered in white for the green sapphire version, and black for the yellow sapphire model. The 42.5mm by 9.9mm case is water-resistant to 30 meters thanks to a transparent gasket.

Created in a limited production of twenty for each color, each new Tambour Moon Flying Tourbillon Poinçon de Genève watches is priced at 400,000 euros.

During its first appearance at Watches and Wonders in Geneva, which this year concluded on April 2,  Frederique Constant unveiled a special thirty-fifth anniversary edition of its Classic Tourbillon Manufacture.

The new Frederique Constant Classic Tourbillon Manufacture, now measuring 39mm in diameter.

Offered in a now-smaller 39mm rose gold case and sporting a beautiful anthracite grey sun-brushed dial with gold hands, the new watch is a cleanly designed model that, at $27,595, is among the most ‘affordable’ in-house Swiss Made tourbillon-regulated watches available, a distinction in line with this Geneva manufacturer’s long-held aim to create high-value luxury watches.

As noted, this latest example of the Frederique Constant Classic Tourbillon Manufacture measures 39mm in diameter, the new size for the Classic Manufacture series. Previous examples of the watch measured 42mm in diameter. The three-hand watch continues to be powered by the in-house automatic FC-980 caliber, first developed in 2008.

Also celebrating its thirty-fifth anniversary, Frédérique Constant offers the watch as an anniversary model in a limited edition of 150, each one individually numbered. In keeping with the brand’s own traditions, the tourbillon is exposed at the 6 o’clock position.

Frédérique Constant fits the movement with a silicon escapement wheel and anchor, which means the owner will benefit from a non-magnetic movement unaffected by variations in temperature.

The watchmaker also engraves each watch’s individual serial number on the rim of the sapphire caseback.

Through the back, the owner can eye (and display) the FC-980 caliber’s fine decor, which includes beveling, beading, circular graining, straight-grained flanks and mirror polishing.

The Frederique Constant Classic Tourbillon Manufacture comes on a dark matte brown leather strap with deployant clasp. Price: $27,595.