Ulysse Nardin GMT Perpetual Calendar Platinum Boutique Edition

Ulysse Nardin Perpetual Calendar Boutique Edition blue platinum

The new, limited edition Ulysse Nardin Perpetual Calendar Manufacture sports a 43mm platinum case with blue “wave” dial and the automatic mechanical UN-32 caliber, UN’s in-house perpetual calendar movement.  Ulysse Nardin uses its manufacture caliber UN-32 (which debuted in 2014) extensively across a wide variety of perpetual calendar models — the manufacture also refers to it as “the most consumer friendly perpetual calendar ever produced.”  This is in a strong argument, as perpetual calendars are notorious for their complexity to set and adjust; the UN-32 caliber can be easily adjusted in either direction through the crown — a simple action, but one which is very complex to execute.  Which is why Ulysse Nardin is well respected for its perpetual calendar watches.

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Enamel Explained: The Art of Cloisonné, Grand Feu, Champlevé, Paillonné, Flinqué & Other Enamel Techniques

  JLC Master Ultra Thin Grand Feu Closeup

You see the terms referred to regularly here at Perpétuelle:  “grand feu”, “champlevé”, and “cloisonné”.    And what are they?  Enamel techniques, of course!  Very often used to create some of the most beautiful watch dials the world has ever seen.  But what exactly do these terms mean?  How are these enamel techniques different?  What distinguishes each of these enamel types from the others?  And what about those other rare occasions where we see the art of “flinque”, & “grisaille” — enamel techniques as well — on display.  I explore these questions and more in this overview of the art of enamel in watchmaking.

In many articles related to fine watchmaking, it is easy to brush past big, fancy (and typically French) words used to describe watchmaking techniques — enamel-related or otherwise.  But given that enamel dials are often the most unique and beautiful of all dials in fine watchmaking, with basically all of the most prestigious haute horlogerie brand producing such pieces (some more frequently than others), the time has never been better to deepen our understanding of what these terms mean.

Because of the organic nature of the material and manner in which it is produced — almost always by the skilled hand of an experienced artisan — I believe that it can be fairly stated that every watch with an enamel dial is a unique piece as well.   But for most, the difference between a cloissoné dial (such as that found on a Patek 5131G) and a champlevé dial (as seen on a Vacheron Metiers d’Art) is but another trivial watchmaking detail.  This naivete, I confess, was somewhat the case for me as well — at least for a while.  But then I became more and more intrigued by the art of enamel and decided to expand my knowledge base, which I share with you now.

This is an article I’ve had in my head for quite some time now, and an admittedly one that only the nerdiest of watch-nerds might appreciate.  But I’m glad to have finally finished it and I enjoyed writing it.  So follow along as I take you through the finer points of enamel and enameling techniques used in fine watchmaking.   And please note — this is not an exhaustive study of the very broad ranging “art of enamel”, but as I say will review the most commonly used techniques fine watchmaking, and a few less commonly used techniques as well.

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Ulysse Nardin Classico Amerigo Vespucci Cloissoné Dial

Ulysse Nardin Amerigo Vespucci cloissoine dials

This latest addition to Ulysse Nardin’s Classico collection: the Amerigo Vespucci.   Ulysse Nardin is one of the very few brands I can think of that actually have what could be called a “cloissoné collection.”  In fact Ulysse Nardin’s cloissoné collection of just ships includes the Pride of Baltimore, the HMS Caesar, and the Santa Maria.  Cloissoné of course a reference to the technique used to create the enamel dial.  Ulysse Nardin thrives in enameling and is one of the few watchmaking houses with in-house capabilities (i.e. very skilled enamel artisans).

Enamel dial-making is an art that has increasingly fascinated me, and I will have much more to tell you on the topic of enameling very soon in a special report I am working on.   Until then, enjoy a look at these fine cloissone dial Classico “Amerigo Vespucci” by Ulysse Nardin.
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The Silicon Flying Anchor Escapement: An In-Depth Look At Ulysse Nardin’s Latest Innovation

Ulysse Nardin LogoUlysse Flying Anchor Escapement Silicon

What you see here is perhaps the most important watchmaking innovation revealed this year.  Seriously.  And I’m about to tell you why, with plenty of photo and videos to back me up.   With an official — though somewhat quiet — debut at Baselworld 2014, Ulysse Nardin’s silicon flying anchor escapement is one of those innovations which could very well change how certain things are done at high-end, cutting-edge horological landscape over the coming years and decades.  Though the exact long-term influence will only be determined over time, this kinda reminds me of that time, about 15 years ago, when Ulysse Nardin rolled out a little ‘ole watch called The Freak.  The Freak of course showcased — for the first time — a silicon escapement (among other niceties).  This seminal launch in 2001 also ushered in the era of silicon components and high-tech materials innovation, which continues apace yet today.

Yea, Rolex’s Syloxi Hairspring is a pretty big deal (quietly announced at Baselworld this year, too), and yes I recently went “In-Depth” on that too, you know– but it was certainly not the first time a silicon hairspring has been used in watchmaking.  Come to think of it, that honor also belongs to Ulysse Nardin.  But I digress.

From Perpetuelle’s point of view, Ulysse Nardin’s flying silicon anchor escapement carries the gravitas more along the lines of Girard-Perregaux’s revolutionary constant escapement which debuted in 2013.  In fact the two share a common principle in that they rely upon the elasticity of precision engineered silicon components.  Though still in prototype phase, Ulysse Nardin’s flying anchor escapement has been under development for seven years, and I predict that in due course this new innovation will really start to make waves in how things are done in the high-end watchmaking segment.   Follow along as Perpetuelle goes in-depth on this new innovation from Ulysse Nardin.

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