March 20, 2015
by James Stacey
Ulysse Nardin is likely best known for their eccentric and fascinating Freak watches, but the brand has been expanding its manufacture prowess: this week at Baselworld 2015 they announced the Ulysse Anchor Tourbillon. This limited edition piece packs an impressive amount of technology into a classic and nicely proportioned design that couldn’t be further from the Freak.
The Ulysse Nardin Anchor Tourbillon uses a 44mm-wide case from the Classico collection and will be offered in either rose or white gold. The classic and glossy white dial is actually rendered in Grand Feu enamel created by Donze Cadrans, a dialmaker owned by Ulysse Nardin. Equipped with sapphire crystals front and back, the Ulysse Nardin Anchor Tourbillon is thick, but not unwieldy, especially given the thickness of the tourbillon. Mounted to a simple leather strap, it is rather charming and, aesthetically speaking, shows an entirely different side of Ulysse Nardin.
For the Ulysse Nardin Anchor Tourbillon, the brand created the caliber UN-178, a manually wound 3.5Hz movement with two barrels offering a minimum power reserve of seven days. More impressively, the UN-178 includes not only a 60-second tourbillon and a power reserve indicator, but also Ulysse Nardin’s proprietary constant Ulysse Anchor escapement system. Fashioned entirely from silicium, this constant-force escapement is the product of eight years of research by UN and a partnership with Sigatec, a company that produces silicium micro components.
Unlike the Swiss anchor system, the Ulysse Anchor uses a circular frame that supports a centered pallet fork which is stabilized by two blade springs that are 1/10th the thickness of a human hair. The movement of the balance wheel is transmitted into the blades which can only move right-left, snapping from one state to another. As the blades curve left to right only, they can replace the use of a traditional pivot. The result is movement of the pallet arms without additional friction.
This escapement has been further refined for additional efficiency by reducing the amount of force required for the balance wheel to push the pallet fork. The system actually creates excess energy that is used to keep the balance wheel at a constant rate. This entire system is then housed within the tourbillon visible at six o’clock on the dial, along with the power reserve indication that is built into the dial around the top of the tourbillon.
Available this coming May, the Ulysse Nardin Anchor Tourbillon is limited to just 36 units, 18 in each type of gold, with pricing starting at $84,000 USD. Given the impressive list of design features and functions, from a Grand Feu enamel dial, to a tourbillon and the Ulysse Anchor escapement, the Ulysse Nardin Anchor Tourbillon is well-priced, and I’m sure all 36 will be snapped up in a heartbeat. ulysse-nardin.com
Keep up with our pre-, post-, and live Baselworld 2015 coverage here.