Ulysse Nardin shows world first silicon escapement

Ulysse Nardin has unveiled the world’s first completely silicon escapement in its Ulysse Anchor Tourbillon.

The watch’s Ulysse Anchor Escapement took the watch brand, purchased last year by Kering Group for its innovative capabilities, eight years in research and development to perfect.

The constant force escapement, shown as a prototype last year, is made entirely from silicon, or silicium, a material which has found favour among watchmakers in recent years for its flexible and self-lubricating qualities.

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The revolutionary new escapement features a pallet fork which moves without any friction, achieved by removing the need for a pivoting staff, while refinements to the geometry of the pallet fork, escape wheel and flat springs meant a constant force escapement was possible.

The new constant force Ulysse Anchor escapement features a circular frame with a pallet fork fixed in the center, supported in space on two blade springs less than a tenth of the thickness of a hair in diameter. Mounted perpendicular to each other, these are subjected to a bending force that curves them and maintains them in a bi-stable state. The entire structure is etched from a wafer of silicon.

Ulysse Nardin selected to mount the new escapement on a 60-second tourbillon cage weighing just 0.4 grams for its commercial debut inside the gold and enamel Ulysse Anchor Tourbillon.

The watch brand is renowned for its innovative approach to materials having, in 2001, pioneered the use of silicon in escapements before demonstrating a balance spring machined from a single diamond crystal in 2002 and then in 2005 having created a diamond escapement.

The Ulysse Anchor Escapement has been an ongoing collaborative project with the brand’s co-owned silicon micro-component specialist, Sigatec, based in Le Locle.

The Ulysse Anchor Tourbillon using UN-178 caliber is offered in rose or white gold cases as part of the Classico collection. The cutting edge technical achievement that the UN-178 caliber represents is housed in a watch with the most traditional of dials, a white Grand Feu enamel dial created by Ulysse Nardin-owned Donzé Cadrans. Each option is available in limited edition runs of 18 pieces.

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