Ulysse Nardin’s visionary spirit surprises once again with its technological innovations and daring designs by introducing the new Blast Free Wheel Marquetry, presenting silicon as a material that is not only ultra-technical but also artistic. As a tribute to the movement of the iconic Freak, the first incorporating silicon in 2001, the UN-176 Manufacture calibre also reveals on the face of the watch its wheels, tourbillon with Ulysse Anchor Constant Escapement, barrel and 7-day power reserve display, which all seem to fly over this impressive mosaic with no visible attachment.
Meeting another achievement, the beauty of this unconventional timepiece is expressed in a white gold 45mm Blast case with its negative angle facets designed using a complex laser method. Renowned for its disruptive aesthetic and ergonomic properties, this case proves once again the cutting-edge know-how of the independent Manufacture. Perfectly echoing the marquetry motif, its geometric lines feature an ultra-glass box that offers a wide-open view of the mysterious movement, which is also visible through the sides.
HAUTE HORLOGERIE WITH A TWIST
At the heart of this edgy Haute Horlogerie complication, the original and innovative UN-176 movement seems to defy not only the laws of attraction, but also the very principles of watchmaking construction. Perfecting this flying calibre, entirely designed by the integrated Manufacture, required two years of research and development to Ulysse Nardin’s technical department.
Signature of the Manufacture, the flying tourbillon of the Blast Free Wheel Marquetry located at 6 o’clock is composed of 45 components and boasts a revolutionary constant escapement. Challenging the principle of the traditional anchor escapement, the Ulysse Anchor Constant Escapement features a circular frame with a pallet fork fixed in the center, supported in space on two blade springs less than a quarter of the thickness of a hair in diameter. Mounted perpendicular to each other, these are subjected to a bending force that curves them and maintains them. This major technical achievement directed by Ulysse Nardin guarantees a perfectly even impulse on the balance wheel, irrespective of the watch’s power reserve. Thanks to the silicon technology also incorporated in the hairspring and the escapement-wheel, the jewels of the usual escapement-wheel become superfluous, as does the anchor pivot. This exceptional tourbillon, which reflects Ulysse Nardin’s triumphs in terms of innovation, proudly won the Tourbillon Prize at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève in 2015.
Other elements seem to float over the silicon dial, such as the flying barrel at 12 o’clock, without any visible attachment on the surface. The energy it accumulates provides the Blast Free Wheel Marquetry with an exceptional autonomy of seven days – indicated by a highly original power reserve display at 4 o’clock. The indicator remains static, unlike the display disc: three bands opposing the indicator mean that the watch is fully wound, while a single band means that the power reserve is almost empty.
In addition, several additional flying mechanisms are displayed on either side of the barrel: on its left, an intermediate wheel, a power reserve differential, and a reduction gear; on its right, the winding mechanism that connects it to the crown’s winding stem.
In a totally disruptive way, the flying tourbillon, anchor and wheels reveal their dance, offering an insight of the mechanical interactions at work, masterfully created by Ulysse Nardin, the orchestrator of this daring ode to silicon and innovation.
MASTER OF MÉTIERS D’ART
While Ulysse Nardin has presented several limited editions of the Freak X adorned with a multi-coloured silicon marquetry disc since 2019, it is the first time this craftsmanship has been expressed in the Blast collection. 103 radiant blue marquetry slivers adorn the dial of this masterpiece, turning it into a captivating artwork. Because of the variation of micron-precise matt and mirror-polished surfaces and the use of two different thicknesses (0.30 and 0.35 mm), their changing reflections and contrasts accentuate the piece’s three- dimensionality to spectacular effect. Assembling the small silicon plates to decorate a single dial represents multiple hours of work for the artisans, who must demonstrate incredible dexterity to avoid breaking or marking these extremely fragile jewels. Furthermore, the case back of the Blast Free Wheel Marquetry is embellished for the first time of a blue silicon plate, proving that the use of this high-end material has been taken to the very last detail.
Ulysse Nardin is the independent Manufacture producing advanced timepieces for explorers in pursuit of freedom. Founded by Mr. Ulysse Nardin in 1846, the company owes its reputation to its links with the sea: its onboard marine chronometers are among the most award-winning and reliable ever designed. A pioneer in innovative technologies and the use of high-tech materials such as silicon, Ulysse Nardin is one of the few integrated manufactures with the in-house expertise to produce its own high-precision components and movements. In 2001, the Maison changed the face of contemporary watchmaking by launching the first Freak. Today, in the Swiss towns of Le Locle and La Chaux-de-Fonds, Ulysse Nardin remains devoted to its quest for watchmaking perfection in four collections: Freak, Blast, Diver and Marine. As of 2022, Ulysse Nardin and sister Maison Girard-Perregaux have formed an independent collective of high horology Manufactures.