In 2014, Ulysse Nardin showed a new escapement concept to the world during Baselworld 2014. The Deployant team who attended the Press Conference then was impressed with the totally new concept of the escapement which was shown as a working prototype movement with a tourbillon. The technical team at UN stressed that the new escapement would work without the tourbillon regulator. The escapement, made completely in silicium is a totally new concept of working and is as interesting as the Girard Perregaux Constant Escapement prototype shown some 8 years ago and raalized in a watch in 2014. UN’s team took less time to incorporate the new escapement in a new watch, and this Baselworld 2015, they showed the first watch to use the new escapement: The Ulysse Nardin Anchor Tourbillon. We present you with live photographs and a hands-on review here, live from Baselworld 2015.
UN worked with Sigatec, a company in Le Loche which they co-own to develop the new escapement over the last 8 years. The trick was to find a new way to allow the energy from the mainspring to “escape”. The challenge was the traditional Swiss anchor escapement is well established, and did it job well, and any new escapement had to be better, provide more consistency as well as higher accuracy to make the effort worthwhile.
The new concept features a circular frame with a pallet fork fixed on the center, supported in space by two spring blades. Each of these blades are very thin, less than a tenth of the thickness of the diameter of a human hair. The blades are mounted perpendicular to each other and are bent in such a way that the force causes each to curve and maintain a bi-stable state. The entire structure, seen in blue (actual colour) in the photograph above is made entirely of silicium using DRIE deep etching and fact that the springs become distorted on the left-right axis while being rigid on the up-down axis. The impulse that comes from each alternation of the balance wheel transmits power from the train to snap it from one stable state to the other. An action like the snap of a hair clip.
The redesigned pallet fork now resets itself within just 3° of the center line – that is, the imaginary straight line between the center of the balance wheel and the center of the escape wheel which defines the system’s equilibrium limit. As the force to push the pallet fork is provided by the blade springs moving from one stable position to the other, the energy from of the train is discharged at a constant rate. Interestingly, the GP Constant Force Escapement works in a similar way, though we understand the development was totally independent of each other, whilst the result is convergent. If both systems work equally well, we may think of the UN version to be slightly superior as it is smaller and does not take up half the movement as it does on the GP. Although it is not totally a bad thing on the GP, as the spring blade mechanism which provides the constant force to the balance is quite a spectacle to watch.
The movement is encased in a very classic case, known within UN as the Classico case available in rose gold or white gold. The dial is also of note that it features a magnificent grend feu enamel dial made by Donzé Cardans, also a company owned by UN.
The movement, UN-178 is beautifully laid out in Lépine style with very graceful bridges. The finish of the bridges is classical and well done. All anglage are performed well, and the fausses côte also performed in classical fashion. Interestingly is the relief engraving on the mainspring barrel, which features a raised polished engraving on a matt, patterned base. Quite a visual treat.
Overall the package is very beautifully presented. Classical, good looking case, Magnificent grand feu enamel dial, the innovative constant force escapement in a tourbillon visible from the dial side. Very nicely laid out and finished movement. Great watch. We obviously love it. Do you?
Ulysse Nardin Anchor Tourbillon Technical Data.
Reference 1786-133 1780-133
Limited Edition to 18 pieces in rose gold 18 pieces in white gold
Movement Caliber UN-178 Manufacture Tourbillon 29 jewels, 18’000 V/H Power-Reserve Min. 7 days, double barrel Escapement Constant Ulysse Anchor Escapement in silicium
Winding Manual Winding Functions Hours and minutes, power reserve indicator
Case Rose gold or white gold
Dimensions 44 mm
Dial Grand Feu Enamel
Water-resistance 30 m
Crystal Antireflective sapphire crystal Case-back Sapphire crystal
Band Leather with simple buckle
The movement beats at 18000 beats/hour? Surprised as these high tech escapements seem to have very high frequencies.