The Ulysse Nardin Anchor Tourbillon watch replica has simple functions: hours, minutes, small-second (within the 1-minute tourbillon) and power reserve (that is indicated around the aperture of the tourbillon).
This watch features an elegant and simple round case, measuring 44mm and shaped like the rest of the Classico collection, like for example the Ulysse Nardin Stranger. It comes with a full mirror polishing. This classicism can also be felt on the dial. Ulysse Nardin also chose to be traditional with a white grand-feu enamel dial, thermally blued hands and ancient numerals for both the hour and minute tracks.
The idea with this first watch featuring the Ulysse Nardin Anchor Escapement was to entirely focus on the innovation. Maybe we’ll see more functions in the next editions or on the contrary, we could see this mechanism adapted to a classical watch without tourbillon. However, for the moment, the point is not here. This rose gold fake Ulysse Nardin Anchor Tourbillon is a first showcase to demonstrate what UN can do.
When turning back the watch, let us have two comments, the first one concerning the superb finish and the second one concerning (again) the huge contrast between the elegance and classicism of the shapes and the innovative spirit. The movement of the Ulysse Nardin Anchor Tourbillon feels like an old marine chronometer, with large and curved bridges and huge wheels. Again, it seems that Ulysse Nardin wants to demonstrate that its new Anchor Escapement isn’t disruptive to its heritage. It can be applied on the most traditional movement possible and not only into concept watches.
As innovative the Anchor Tourbillon can be, you’ll be surprised to see that Ulysse Nardin didn’t choose the same shocking approach than with the Freak but instead they chose to keep it as close as possible to their traditional high-end watchmaking. Every aspect from the round and elegant case, the blued hands, the enamel dial, the antique numerals or the movement shaped like a marine chronometer are reminiscent of traditional horology and thus creating a voluntary huge contrast with the innovative escapement module – a sort of pre-answer to the future comments that could say “ok, we have an innovation, we removed the traditional swiss lever escapement but we’re making classical high-end watchmaking”.
This movement is finished with polished bevelled angles, fine circular graining on the main plate, Geneva waves on the bridges and an engraved barrel. We can even find some internal angles on the bridge that holds the back of the tourbillon – and those are finishes that can only be done by hand. This large movement features a one-minute tourbillon that beats at slow 18.000 vph. It boasts 8 days of power reserve, thanks to a double barrel. You could easily expect 150.000 + for an example of this timepiece. For once, we have to admit that the retail price decided by UN is justified, as it will be 84.000 Swiss Francs (for the 18 pieces in rose gold) and 88,400 Swiss Francs (for the 18 pieces in white gold). We know lots of simple tourbillon watches priced way above that. Deliveries will start this May 2015.
Now comes the question of the reliability and of the accuracy. We know that these types of escapements are extremely hard to adjust (mainly because traditional tools can’t be used) and achieving a chronometer rating is potentially a nightmare for watchmakers. We also know that the ‘real constant force‘ is a proper challenge to achieve and many of the past solutions failed. For these two questions, we don’t have yet the answer and only a long term review could let us have all the answer’s we need to tell if this is really the end of traditional watchmaking.
Final question: the price. Look back at the article, review the features, the innovations, the fact that it’s a very limited edition, the 18k white or 18k rose gold case, the enamel dial…
This new Ulysse Nardin Anchor Tourbillon is truly interesting for several reasons. First, it seems to be one of the first attempts to get rid of the Swiss lever escapement that could be implemented on a larger scale. Then, it brings a constant force mechanism that is compact enough to be applied in normal watches and not only in concept watches – something that Ulysse Nardin truly wants to demonstrate with a very classical execution of the case, the dial or the movement. Thus it opens the doors to several new developments meaning that we could see more Ulysse Nardin copy watches with the anchor escapement soon – with or without tourbillon. The strength of this innovation could well be its adaptability.