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Ulysse Nardin SKELETON X

In the closet
by Chester Lau on August 3, 2019
Reviews

The SKELETON X, a new Manufacture openworked movement for Ulysse Nardin. Notably, it features an X shape bridge that holds together a vertical design gear train. 

The brand draws inspiration from a bunch of qualities in the letter X; the x-factor, x-rays and even puns on external-internal. Its design is fancy though admittedly it is a feat to distinguish a product from the formulaic sporty case material (alloys, carbons, Hublot-era fusion concept of mixed metals) and skeleton dial. Cue — Richard Mille, TagHeuer, Hublot, Zenith, and Richemont’s response with Roger Dubuis. Breguet’s La Tradition is an openworked as well, but fortunately a safe distance from the supercar touting brands.  

The SKELETON X case measures 42mm and is available in 4 case/dial material variations – namely Titanium, Titanium Black, Rose Gold, and Carbonium. Geometry is a central concept in the design of the watch. The dial shows an X formed by four of the indexes is framed in a rectangle, in turn inside a circle. 

The favorite of the 4 for most, is the Carbonium ® GOLD version. The aeronautic-grade Carbonium ® is a new, super-light and sustainable material used in the production of the latest-generation airplanes’ fuselage and wings. 

The production of Carbonium ® has 40% less environmental impact than other carbon composites as it uses offcuts from aeronautical pieces. With complex process requiring high pressures and temperatures, Carbonium ®  is a high-performance material that brings out the core beauty of the organic pattern created by the 7µm diameter carbon fibers. Carbonium® Gold is a “fusion” of carbon and gold, giving to the SKELETON X watch case shimmery and flowing black and gold waves. 

The new movement is one of the innovations of the watch’s antecedent, the FREAK VISION: a super-light balance wheel in silicium, extra-wide, with nickel flyweights and stabilizing micro-blades. The new Manufacture movement, the UN-371 caliber, is a redesign based on the UN-171 movement. It’s manual winding and beats at 3 Hz and has 96 hours of power reserve.

This Ulysse Nardin Skeleton X is priced with a start price version at 17’500 USD, 21’000 USD for Carbonium, and 29’000 for Rose Gold. At this price point, it competes with brands like Arnold & Son, Jacquet Droz and Hublot. 

Skeleton watches or openworked designs may need more time to become as iconic as classic designs – apart from Richard Mille, which may be attributed more for its case shape rather than its dials.  In terms of popularizing the concept in a production timepiece, Hublot probably did the best job with the Aerobang, Big Bang etc. Tag Heuer imported the idea and introduced it to its Carrera, then all the other LVMH brands followed suit, Bulgari’s Octo, Zenith’s Defy. Swatch replies with Jacquet Droz, Richemont with Roger Dubuis. Other brands like Girard Perregaux, Arnold & Son also join the fray.

Skeleton dials are intricate, and give the impression of a super engineered mechanical object. It can display watchmaker workmanship and skills. Contrasting colored cases, texture surfaces like carbon, bronze, are still fashionable today. This killer combination is likely what the market buys into today which explains for the catch-up products still in emerging today. It’s a product fit for those who want alternatives to the traditional classic and sports watch designs; a telling sign of an emerging market taste seeking more unconventional styles. 

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

Movement Caliber UN-371, manual winding movement

Functions Manufacture Skeleton Movement
3 Hz Silicium balance wheel

Silicium minuterie gear train

Power reserve 96 hours 

Case Titanium

Titanium black DLC

Rose gold 4N

Carbonium ® GOLD

Diameter Titanium & Rose gold: 42 mm 

Carbonium ®: 43 mm

Case back Sapphire crystal

Water resistance   50 m

Strap  Titanium & Rose Gold available in rubber or alligator strap 

Carbonium ® gold available in rubber or grained calf-leather strap

World prices Ti Blue : 17’500 USD

Ti Black : 17’500 USD

Carbonium ® gold : 21’000 USD

Rose gold : 29’000 USD

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