Let there be no mistake; Although the title might made you think otherwise, this article has nothing to do with the material silicone, which is perhaps best known to “enhance” the beauty of the fairer sex in many different shapes and forms. Instead it is about silicon, without the “e”, a chemical element that achieved rock-star status in the modern world because of its use in semiconductors, making it an important, if not vital, ingredient that created our current high tech world. By itself there is nothing sexy about silicon. It is a dark, metallic looking material with the appeal of Darth Vader. But when Ulysse Nardin is done with it, Silicon is as sexy as it will ever be!

Among all the watch brands, Ulysse Nardin was one of the pioneers when it comes to using silicon in its movements. We have to go back all the way to 2001, when they used this material for the very first time in a watch that was available to the public, of course in one of their signature timepieces; The Freak. But why silicon? Well, the material offers a lot of advantages that are especially beneficial for watches; magnetism and temperature changes have no effect on its performance, and little to non lubrication is needed, while at the same time it is also hard and light.

1700-129_Ulysse Nardin hasn’t rested on its laurels after it introduced their first development in silicon in 2001, but continued to develop this technology further. With the Tourbillon Manufacture, which was introduced at Baselworld 2014, Ulysse Nardin sets another step into the field of silicon with the balance spring, anchor and escapement wheel all made from silicon. It is also this silicon upgrade that sets the 2014 version apart from the 2013 version, when the Skeleton Tourbillon Manufacture was introduced. The name of the watch might hold some mystery; why would a brand like Ulysse Nardin refer to a watch as a tourbillon manufacture, especially since this watch is not the very first tourbillon they ever made themselves. The answer to this question lies in the first part of the name of the watch; skeleton. Ulysse Nardin developed this movement as a skeleton movement, and did not use an existing movement to create it.

1706-129_amb_The result is typical Ulysse Nardin; horlogical excellence with a Haute Horlogerie finish as can be expected from a high end brand like Ulysse Nardin, yet with a large dash of non-conformism. The way the skeleton bridges are shaped as well as the blued hands, indicate that this watch can only be a Ulysse Nardin. The silicon parts are not the only remarkable feature of this watch, the same can be said of the power reserve, which is an impressive 170 hours. Being a manual wind movement, this most likely mean that your watch will stop at some points since you have grown so accustomed that it always, almost magically, runs, as if it doesn’t need any winding at all. Ulysse Nardin will make a generous amount of 200 Skeleton Tourbillon Manufactures in white gold and an additional 200 in rose gold. Ulysse Nardin’s generosity regarding the relatively large production run is a gift so that quite a few people can enjoy one of the most beautiful skeleton tourbillon’s currently on the market, and should not be interpenetrated as being an overly ambitious amount from my perspective. Given the sex-appeal that Ulysse Nardin has given this watch, they would probably have to set up a waiting list for those who want one but are too late!

Martin Green
Eclectic taste in Haute Horlogerie, passion for diamond set watches, loves the classics

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