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 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 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.