Colour is the new protagonist at many watch brands, often making up for a lack of novelties but admittedly bringing a more lighthearted mood to the scene. As you will have noticed, classical black and silver dials are being replaced with bolder and bolder colours. Ulysse Nardin rides this trend during Geneva Watch Days with the launch of two 39mm Lady Diver models and a 45mm Blast Tourbillon, both with an unexpected twist. Instead of applying colour to the dial, UN decks the bezel with an array of multi-coloured gemstones designed to evoke the shimmering colours of its breakthrough silicium escapement. As the first brand to introduce an escapement with silicium components inside the 2001 Freak, UN takes inspiration from the iridescent rainbow of colours produced by the material.
Ulysse Nardin will go down in history as a pioneer of silicium components in watchmaking. Since the early 2000s, silicium has become a promising material for watchmaking thanks to its non-magnetic qualities, resilience to corrosion, and light, elastic properties that do not get deformed over time. Thanks to a silicium dioxide layer that hardens and stabilises the components making them insensitive to thermal variations, there is no need for lubrication. UN has been using silicium to manufacture its regulating organs (including the balance spring) for over 20 years now and owns Sigatec since 2006 (with Momoetic), a specialised producer of micromechanical components and custom-made pieces in silicium with micron-level precision. The first watch fitted with a silicium escapement was UN’s Freak of 2001 with its novel silicon direct impulse escapement.
The Blast Skeleton Tourbillon released two years ago during Geneva Watch Days, is a more supercharged Blast model with an edgier, sharper case to simulate the lines of stealth fighter jets and the double X and rectangle traversing the skeletonised dials. It also marked the first time the Skeleton Tourbillon was fitted with an automatic movement. Sharing identical specs with the 2020 editions, the latest 50m water-resistant Blast Rainbow comes in a 45mm black DLC-coated titanium case with a black ceramic upper case with polished and sandblasted finishings.
The black DLC-coated stainless steel bezel glows with the colours of the rainbow. Using 38 baguette-cut gemstones, the bezel simulates the rainbow hues of silicium with red rubies and orange, yellow, green, blue, violet and pink sapphires.
The flange of the skeletonised dial is also set with 12 colourful gemstones standing in for the indices. The signature X-shape tucked beneath the openworked rectangle reveals UN’s automatic tourbillon movement, calibre UN-172. The highlight of the piece is the 2.5Hz automatic silicium tourbillon regulator nested in a bold, totally redesigned black X-shaped cage at 6 o’clock. If you look closely, you can see the purple silicium escapement wheel. Despite the number of components on view, the barrel at noon and tourbillon at 6 o’clock add symmetry to the composition. Made from platinum, the tiny micro-rotor is positioned on top of the barrel and can be seen from the front of the watch at 12 o’clock, a star-shaped structure inside a circle. The UN-172 movement is an evolution of the hand-wound UN-171 and has a three-day/72h power reserve. As you might have anticipated, there is another skeletonised X on the caseback.
No doubt a reflection of the difficulty in procuring identical tones of coloured gemstones, the Blast Rainbow is a limited edition of 50 pieces. It comes with a waterproof velvet rubber strap or a black alligator strap, both with a black DLC titanium and ceramic deployant clasp. The retail price is CHF 85,000.
Quick facts: 45mm diameter – black DLC titanium middle case, black ceramic upper case, black DLC steel bezel set with 38 multi-coloured baguette-cut gemstones – 50m water-resistance – skeletonised dial with black rectangle and double X – 12 gemstone indices – black hands with Super-LumiNova – calibre UN-172, automatic tourbillon movement with platinum micro-rotor – silicium escapement wheel, anchor and balance spring – 18,000vph/2.5Hz – 72-hour power reserve – hours, minutes, tourbillon – black velvet rubber strap or black alligator leather with black DLC titanium and ceramic clasp – limited edition of 50 timepieces – ref. 1723-400B1LE-2B-RAIN/3A – CHF 85,000 / EUR 80.800 / USD 89,700
Lady Diver Rainbow
The trilogy of Divers introduced last year included the Lady Diver 39mm in a rose gold case and a diamond-set bezel. Despite the glamourous touches, the watch is true to its name and can fathom depths of 300m. The Lady Diver returns in 2022 with an eye-catching gem-set bezel replicating the colours of the rainbow found in silicium components.
Available in two case materials and dials – polished stainless steel with white dial and black DLC steel with black dial – the bezel of the Lady Diver Rainbow is set with colourful gemstones. To reproduce the effect of colours gradually changing, 40 brilliant-cut stones in different hues enliven the static concave bezel with their light. Eleven diamonds on the dial are used for the indices, the hands and 12 o’clock marker are treated with Super-LumiNova, and there is a date window at 6 o’clock.
Below the sealed caseback with its engraving of a wind rose beats the UN-816 calibre, an automatic in-house movement with silicon components in the regulating organ. Beating at 28,800vph, the movement delivers a 42-hour power reserve.
Both versions of the Lady Diver Rainbow are limited editions of 300 timepieces and come with either a white or black embossed rubber strap or a white or black alligator strap. The price is CHF 12,900.
Quick facts: 39mm diameter – stainless steel, polished or black DLC steel – concave bezel set with 40 coloured gemstones – domed sapphire crystal with A/R coating – sealed caseback with engraved wind rose – black or silver dial with 11 diamond markers – index at 12 o’clock and hands with Super-Luminova – date window at 6 o’clock – automatic UN-816 calibre (based on Sellita SW300) – 42h power reserve – 28,800 vibrations/h – silicon components for the regulating organ – hours, minutes, seconds and date – limited edition of 300 pieces in each colourway – white and black rubber strap or white and black alligator strap – ref. 8163 182 B 1 LE 1 A RAIN/ 3 A (Lady Diver Rainbow White), ref. 8163182 B 1 LE 2 A RAIN/ 3 A (Lady Diver Rainbow Black) – CHF 12,900 / EUR 12,300 / USD 13,600
For more information, please consult ulysse-nardin.com.