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One might get the feeling from Ulysse Nardin that its whole concept isn't necessarily to manufacture watches according to ancient traditions. Overhauled, superfluous technology and components of questionable modern utilization such as gold chatons for bearings and swan-neck fine ...
One might get the feeling from Ulysse Nardin that its whole concept isn't necessarily to manufacture watches according to ancient traditions. Overhauled, superfluous technology and components of questionable modern utilization such as gold chatons for bearings and swan-neck fine adjustments are elements one can search for forever at Ulysse Nardin without finding a single example.
Owner Rolf Schnyder and vice president Pierre Gygax tend more toward substantial progress in the movement technology used today - which may well be 250 years old. One of the most exceptional characteristics of the company's Freak concept watch is the Dual Direct Escapement it premiered, comprising two silicon wheels and an alternator, which transforms the rotation of the gear train into pendulum motion and passes it on to the balance.
After this escapement was reworked to the company's full satisfaction, it was recently introduced in automatic Caliber 160 - a movement created for the company's 160th anniversary. After experiments with aluminum and a nickel-phosphorus alloy, Ulysse Nardin's technicians have returned to plasma silicon as the preferred material for escape wheels, also slightly modifying the shape of these wheels. Today, the Dual Direct Escapement achieves rate results that satisfy even Switzerland's official chronometer testing facility, the C.O.S.C. More than 200 movements outfitted with this exclusive escapement have already been certified by that organization.
The research and development department headed up by Gygax has experimented with materials in the last few years that would have been thought impossible for use in a watch movement before - in cooperation with universities and other research institutes.
With the InnoVision mechanism introduced in the fall of 2007, Ulysse Nardin has come very close to the ideal of a maintenance and lubrication-free mechanical movement. Its spring barrel revolves on a (nonlubricated) ball bearing with better performance both radially and axially, reducing friction at the same time. The Dual Ulysse Escapement is a subgroup component that Ulysse Nardin can manufacture in silicon, nickel-phosphorus, diamond, or diamond-coated silicon (DCS) according to what is needed.
Particularly strong bridges are crafted in a unique combination comprising a silicon core and nickel coating, and the balance's shock protection is even made of a single piece of silicon. This Silishock shock absorber takes on the functions of spring, bearing jewel, and endstone all in one. The ends of the balance staff revolve directly in a groove in the middle of the silicon disk. The outer part of this disk, shaped like a spring, is elastic and absorbs the shock.
Traditional jewel bearings have been taken completely out of the picture: the wheel axes revolve in precision drillings directly in the silicon bridge. This innovation is of great importance for the watch industry since this technology will certainly soon be used in conventional movement design. The precision of the bearing drillings' positioning is five times as exact on these silicon bridges as on traditional drilled brass bridges containing pressed bearing jewels. Additionally, the movement designer is no longer limited by the large diameter of a ruby and can position the bearing drillings much closer to the edge of a bridge if desired.
The future of the mechanical watch has now begun.