ULYSSE NARDINArtisans of individuality
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Freak VisionIntroducing the first automatic watch in the Freak collection
A haute horlogerie wonder
Introducing the first automatic watch in the Freak Collection, the Freak Vision: a Haute Horlogerie wonder incorporating the revolutionary innovations unveiled in the Ulysse Nardin InnoVision 2 Concept Watch at SIHH 2017. Among the game-changers: a super-light silicium balance wheel with nickel mass elements and stabilizing micro-blades and a new case design made even thinner by a box-domed crystal.
Time is still indicated in the “Freak” manner that sets the collection apart: by the baguette movement itself, a “flying carrousel” rotating around its own axis. Yet the design components are completely different. The new 3D carved upper bridge is inspired by a boat’s hull. The new box-domed sapphire allows for a thinner middle and bezel. Finally, the entire case itself is new—horns, bezel, the rubber on the side—making for a look that is much more open and generous.
The Grinder Automatic Winding System, which completely revolutionizes energy transmission, surpassing existing systems for efficiency by a factor of two. Grinder takes perfect advantage of even the slightest movement of the wrist. The oscillating rotor is linked to a frame containing four arms, which gives the automatic system twice the torque – like having four pedals on a bike instead of two – while a flexible guidance mechanism drastically limits friction.
The Ulysse Nardin Anchor Escapement is based on the principle of flexible mechanisms, exploiting the elasticity of flat springs. It presents a constant force escapement made entirely of silicium, and features a circular frame with a pallet fork that moves without friction. The pallet fork is fixed in the center and supported in space on two minuscule blade springs. Mounted perpendicular to each other, they are subjected to a bending force that curves and keeps them in a bi-stable state. The result is a positive energy balance that maintains the oscillations of the balance wheel at a constant rate without influence of torque variation from the mainspring.
The revival of a very ancient technique, dating well before the Middle Ages and used extensively during the Byzantine Empire and in the West as early as the 4th century, this method consists of creating compartments or housings using gold wire in order to deposit the enamel with utmost precision.
Folding alone represents between 8 and 15 hours’ work per dial. Then the work is polished. This operation produces the end result. It takes immense effort and patience to make dials with a polished finish.
Ulysse Nardin & Sigatec
The escapement of the caliber UN-118 is produced in collaboration between Ulysse Nardin and Sigatec in Sion, Switzerland.
Sigatec is the only company in the world capable of producing high-precision components both in Silicium and DIAMonSIL; a nanotechnology which has taken many years to develop. DIAMonSIL is an extremely light but hard material that eliminates friction and removes the need for lubrication of the escapement – the watchmaker’s holy grail.
Ulysse nardin heritage
When Ulysse Nardin was born in Le Locle on 22 January 1823, the region was already home to a wealth of watchmaking activities.
Starting out as an apprentice to his father Léonard-Frédéric, himself a watchmaker, Ulysse Nardin went to work with William DuBois, one of the greatest experts of his age in precision timepieces, notably marine chronome-ters and astronomical watches. The young apprentice began specializing in complicated watches, and quickly spotted the potential of a niche market as maritime transport grew. In 1846, at the tender age of 23, Ulysse Nardin founded the company that still bears his name today, in Le Locle.
Ulysse Nardin then turned his attention to the design of ultra high-precision timepieces, and exported his products around the world. Two years later, he attained the holy grail of watchmaking at the Great Exhibition in London, winning the Prize Medal in the Complicated Watches category.
This was the beginning of the golden age of the Ulysse Nardin Manufacture. Its pocket and marine chronometers set the benchmark in both civil and military realms. In 1865, the business moved to new premises at 3, rue du Jardin in Le Locle, where its headquarters remain today. Ulysse Nardin died on 20 February 1876, marking the end of the first chapter in the company’s history. His son, Paul-David, then aged 21, took the helm.
The Ulysse Nardin company continued to grow, and its spirit of innovation ensured it enjoyed ever increasing success and renown.