Ulysse Nardin again conducts pioneering work

The new Ulysse Anchor Escapement from Ulysse Nardin

With the Ulysse Anchor Escapement the still privately owned manufacturer Ulysse Nardin based in Le Locle and La Chaux-de-Fonds in the Swiss Jura again proves that there is room for improvement.

 

Ulysse Nardin is always good for a surprise! In 2014 it is the Ulysse Anchor Escapement.

Before introducing it to you let us look back to the year 2001: That was the year the brand presented the world’s first silicon escapement. At a time, nota bene, no one actually realized what this meant. Let me transform Neil Armstrong´s legendary sentence into the following: That was one small step for Ulysse Nardin, but one giant leap for the Swiss watch industry. Today we know that all this exotic materials and ingenious applications are no longer just the vision and forward-thinking of one company, but that they have become reality and that they are being used by such renowned manufacturers as Blancpain, Breguet, Patek Philippe, Omega and Rolex.

The story continued and Ulysse Nardin produced the first diamond balance-spring only one year later in 2002. In 2005 the manufacturer presented the first escapement without the traditional pallets and pallet-wheel called Dual Ulysse in silicon equipped with two impulse wheels. In the same year Ulysse Nardin presented the first watch with a diamond escapement and, one year later, the first Diamond Coated Silicon (DiamonSil) escapement. Here again, Ulysse Nardin was the first to use silicon as a matrix on which to grow diamond crystal.

In 2014, after seven years of research, development and improvements with Sigatec, a co-owned company specialised in silicon micro-components, Ulysse Nardin is in the position to present what appears to be a paradigm change in the approach to mechanical watchmaking.

Overturning the traditional principle of the Swiss lever escapement, the new Ulysse Anchor Escapement features a circular silicon frame in which the pallet arms are suspended by two buckled blades — meaning curved under tension — one perpendicular to the other.

This escapement relies on the physical property of blade springs to bend along one axis while remaining perfectly rigid along others, so as to reproduce the kinetic functions of a pivot. The impulse, given at each semi-oscillation of the balance, transmits its energy to the blades, which snap from one stable state to another, very much like a snap hair clip.

 

The new Ulysse Anchor Escapement from Ulysse Nardin
The new Ulysse Anchor Escapement from Ulysse Nardin
The new Ulysse Anchor Escapement from Ulysse Nardin
The new Ulysse Anchor Escapement from Ulysse Nardin
The new Ulysse Anchor Escapement from Ulysse Nardin
The new Ulysse Anchor Escapement from Ulysse Nardin

 

The pallet arms, without a pallet staff, thus pivot from side to side without generating friction. Better still, when it returns to its original position, the system gives back its stored energy with virtually no loss. Finally, the construction, which dispenses with the bridge for the pallet lever since it no longer pivots on a shaft, results in a slimmer movement.

 

The new Ulysse Anchor Escapement from Ulysse Nardin
The new Ulysse Anchor Escapement from Ulysse Nardin
The new Ulysse Anchor Escapement from Ulysse Nardin
The new Ulysse Anchor Escapement from Ulysse Nardin
The new Ulysse Anchor Escapement from Ulysse Nardin
The new Ulysse Anchor Escapement from Ulysse Nardin

 

 

 

The new escapement, which should come into operation this year, opens new and unexplored opportunities for Ulysse Nardin and maybe in reference to what I have been writing above for the entire Swiss watch industry.

 

 

>>> Please continue reading my report on PAGE 2 

and discover the Ulysse Nardin manufacturing facilities in Le Locle and La Chaux-de-Fonds

 

 

 

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6 Comments

  • I love Ulysse Nardine watches as quite a few of these have used innovative materials quite successfully.

    I heard Schnyder family is trying to sell the Company, is it true?

  • Very interesting but the big question is whether this escapement is going into volume production or whether it will be limited to a handful of high-end pieces. Of all the myriad new escapements that have been introduced since the Daniels/Omega co-axial, none has gone into anything like volume production. Omega remains the only company that has actually produced high volumes of an “alternative” escapement. UN’s last new escapement is limited to the Freak. I was hoping the the introduction of calibre 160 meant that the dual direct escapement was on its way to higher-volume production but sadly that turned out not to be the case. Any idea if this new escapement will fare any better?

    – HCE

    • I don’t know at that stage of the development but I could imagine this escapement has a higher potential to make it into “normal” watches from UN. It will also depend what happens next. As I already wrote on the blog the family Schnyder owning UN wants to sell the company. In the moment I hear no one is interested in buying, but we will have to see. The next owner could change the UN world upside down…

  • Thanks for the tour. Silicon is such a versatile material for micro machines. My CNC shop isn’t as neat and tidy as theirs.
    Awaiting your next adventure.

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