Ulysse Nardin has quite a comprehensive portfolio of collections and is primarily known for its background in marine chronometry but is also regarded as one of the most innovative watchmaking companies. With collections like the Marine, the brand’s naval heritage is kept very much alive, paying homage to the precision marine instruments that made the company famous in the second half of the 19th century. On the other end of the spectrum are far more outspoken collections, with very interesting design and technical features. One can’t ignore the significance of the Ulysse Nardin Freak for instance, which broke new grounds in 2001. One of the latest concepts to emerge from Ulysse Nardin is the Blast collection. Modern, edgy and highly technical, these watches are all about “Xploration of the Xtremes”, as UN puts it (not a typo!). So let’s see just how extreme Ulysse Nardin gets, as we’ve recently had some time with the Ulysse Nardin Blast Tourbillon White.
Visually, the Ulysse Nardin Blast collection is an evolution of the Executive range, a collection that is no longer listed on the brand’s website. Nevertheless, thanks to the redesign, it lives on as the Blast in various iterations. The aesthetical lineage is very much there, primarily with the way the strap is integrated into the case, the guarded crown and the rectangular bridge of the movement. The Blast is a far more edgy offering though, with contemporary materials and a more angular profile. The energetic range is home to a series of very complex watches like the Blast Moonstruck, Blast Hourstriker Tourbillon, Blast Free Wheel Tourbillon (formerly known as Executive Free Wheel Tourbillon) and this Blast Tourbillon.
The case for the Blast Tourbillon comes in white ceramic and titanium, but other combinations are available as well. At 45mm in diameter and 13mm in height, it is on the rather large side, but given the chosen materials and the openworked movement, it wears comfortable on the wrist. The ergonomics are quite good, as the faceted lugs angle downward nicely and firmly hold on to the integrated strap. The centre case is made in white ceramic, sandwiched by a titanium bezel and caseback, which is held in place with 6 screws. Two ceramic crown guards secure the crown from any unwanted bumps or jolts. A sapphire crystal on both sides offers an unobstructed view of the skeletonized Calibre UN-172.
The fact the Ulysse Nardin Blast Tourbillon doesn’t have a traditional dial allows you to really dive into the movement. Surrounding the dial are 12 suspended and faceted hour indices set on a white chapter ring. The rectangular bridge cuts into the ring a touch, to visually connect it with the movement. Each index has a dose of blue lacquer, which light up in the dark thanks to Super-LumiNova. The large central hour and minute hands have been finished in the same style, with a double blue luminous section down the spine. There’s no additional seconds (central or small) indication but the one-minute flying tourbillon escapement in the bottom of the movement could be regarded as such although it lacks a clear indicator.
The in-house made UN-172 automatic movement can be seen from all angles obviously, with a full view of the Double-X shaped construction. It might be hard to spot but the movement is wound with a platinum micro-rotor placed on top of the barrel. This keeps the visual balance of the movement in check, as it opposes the tourbillon escapement on the vertical axis, with the keyless works and running gear on the horizontal axis opposing one another more or less too. The construction of the movement uses a flying tourbillon escapement with a silicon escapement wheel, anchor and balance spring, a material pioneered by Ulysse Nardin in 2001 with the introduction of the Freak. The movement runs at a leisurely rate of 2.5Hz, or 18,000vph and provides a more than adequate 72 hours of power reserve.
The Ulysse Nardin Blast Tourbillon in titanium and white ceramic comes on a structured grey rubber strap with a patented three-blade, self-deploying buckle. Alternatively, it can also be purchased with a grey leather strap on the same clasp. Ulysse Nardin offers an extended five-year warranty on all its new watches, which is reassuring. Price-wise, the Ulysse Nardin Blast Tourbillon will set you back USD 52,700. A lot of money, but it does buy you an advanced tourbillon watch with a fresh, edgy design.
For more information, please check Ulysse-Nardin.com