The House of Harry Winston unveils the sixth chapter of Histoire de Tourbillon. The sixth edition of this high complication collection will be equipped with HW4701 caliber, the most complex in the Histoire de Tourbillon series. A genuine first in the history of horology, it combines two independent hour indications: one regulated by a tri-axial tourbillon and the other by a karussel. Both karrusel and tourbillon operate in a similar manner and feature the same exceptional precision-rating qualities. The impressive white gold case is designed to fit the contours and accompany the technical constraints of a movement distinguished by its unique complexity and construction.
The Histoire de Tourbillon 6 movement is composed of two independent parts, like two heads on a single body. Hours and minutes are displayed on one side, regulated by the tri-axial tourbillon. They are recognizable by their color coding – orange against a gray background – and housed within a rounded protrusion on the case. The right side of the watch is distinguished by its blue hands and markings against a black backdrop. It features a dial with hands that can be started, stopped and reset at will. A blue ceramic pusher at 2 o’clock allows this superlative creation to display the elapsed hours and minutes like a chronograph. This unique and versatile function also drives a dual-time display that may be adjusted as desired via the 3 o’clock crown.
The incredible technical sophistication of the tri-axial tourbillon is supremely exclusive. The first cage carries the balance wheel and performs one turn every 45 seconds. It rotates inside a second cage, which spins in 75 seconds along its vertical axis. This ensemble is set in motion inside a third, spherical cage, which completes its own revolution in 300 seconds. The latter is the cage featuring the orange seconds hand,visible beneath a sapphire crystal dome that offers a fascinating view of the three dimensional ballet of time. Meanwhile, the karussel performs a 30-second rotation.
The varying rotation angles and speeds of the tourbillon and karussel play a decisive role in chronometric performance, which is the watch’s accuracy. Together they counteract the detrimental effects of gravity. Precision is further enhanced by the fast rotating twin barrels, boasting an exceptionally regular torque.
A few figures highlight the incomparable complexity of this timepiece. Caliber HW4701 is made up of 683 parts. Its tri-axial tourbillon alone requires 141 parts and weighs a mere 1.85 grams. This voluminous graphic structure is visible beneath four sapphire crystals, all distinguished by convex and complex shapes.
The complication that makes the Histoire de Tourbillon 6 unique is a subtle and inconspicuous one. If need be, the karrusel positioned at 1 o’clock can remain idle. When started, it acts as the regulator for the independent part of the HW4701 movement, occupying the right side. It is stopped by default, but starts running when the pusher, located on the case band is pressed. The specific construction of the karussel means that its balance wheel and its cage are simultaneously linked to the movement’s energy source. Even when halted, they are under constant tension and when released, instantly accelerate to cruising speed. This extremely rare karussel, with a 30-second rotation, operates at high speed in order to occupy a maximized number of positions in space.
With this regulator, time displays can be personalized. The movement on the right side is akin to a monopusher chronograph and replicates that function. Its hands, however, are adjustable via a crown at 3 o’clock. Therefore, they can provide a dual-time display that is accurate to the nearest minute. This rare capability is ideal for offset time zones such as India (UTC +5:30), Caracas (UTC – 4:30) or Katmandu (UTC + 5:45).
Despite its exceptional dimensions, 64 mm from crown to crown, Histoire de Tourbillon 6 has a comfortable fit. The mainplate and bridges, forming the structure of the movement, are made of titanium, a metal chosen for its light weight. The case is fitted with ergonomic lugs. Aligned with the large hand-sewn alligator strap, they seamlessly follow the curves of the wrist.
The case is crafted using a white gold alloy with a high palladium content, giving it an attractive glow and radiating a matte sheen that expertly matches the distinctive look of the movement’s surface. It is entirely hand-beveled and sandblasted to give it a granular texture before undergoing an NAC galvanic treatment, which coats it with a black metal layer. The rendering is both sophisticated and striking, and entirely in harmony with the technical nature of the timepiece.
The exclusive nature of Histoire de Tourbillon 6 is amplified by its limited production, a result of the exceptional complexity of Caliber HW4701. As in the previous chapters of the Histoire de Tourbillon by Harry Winston, only 20 will be made.
Model: Histoire de Tourbillon 6
Display of the hours, minutes, seconds and power reserve
Hours and minutes counter with zero-reset function equipped with carriage stop. Movement operating indicator and power reserve indicator (Power Reserve gauge)
Diameter: 40.90 mm x 45.08 mm
Height: 17.30 mm
Number of components & Weight
Complete movement: 683 components
Tourbillon: 141 components
Karussel: 100 components
Tourbillon weight: 1.85 g
Karussel weight: 0.697 g
Number of jewels: 90
Tri-axial tourbillon: up to 80 hours
Karussel: up to 70 hours
Barrels: Two sets of twin fast-rotating series-coupled co-axial barrels equipped with slipping spring in order to avoid excess tension
Balance wheel: Variable-inertia type equipped with gold adjusting screws
Frequency: 21,600 vibrations/hour (3Hz) for each balance wheel
Balance spring: Phillips terminal curve and Geneva-type stud for each balance wheel
Mainplate: Titanium, shot-peened and chamfered, PVD-coated
Titanium bridges, shot-peened and chamfered, PVD-coated
Screws with S-type slotted mirror-polished heads, shot-peened and chamfered
Inner carriage containing the balance wheel and escapement pinion with 45-second rotation cycle
Intermediate carriage with 75-second rotation cycle
Outer carriage with 300-second rotation cycle
Carriage rotation in 30 seconds
Excentered polished rhodium-plated orange SLN Hours and Minutes in a counter at 10 o’clock
Seconds indicator on the tri-axial tourbillon carriage at 8 o’clock
Polished rhodium-plated orange SLN of the Hours and Minutes’ power-reserve at 12 o’clock
Open-worked chronograph hours and minutes in untreated Avional at 3 o’clock
Chronograph operating indicator at 2 o’clock
Polished rhodium-plated blue SLN chronograph power reserve
5 o’clock Chronograph karussel at 1 o’clock
18K white gold, polished, satin-brushed and shot-peened
Blue ceramic pusher
Diameter: 55 mm x 49 mm (edges of the bezel)
Height: 21.80 mm
Shaped sapphire crystal for the 3 o’clock zone with antireflective treatment on both sides
Shaped crystal for the 10 o’clock hours and minutes zone with anti-reflective treatment on both sides
Domed sapphire crystal on the tourbillon with anti-reflective treatment on both sides
Case back: Open; Sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment on both sides
Water resistance: 3 bars
Crown: 18K white gold and rubber
Hand-sewn black alligator leather
Buckle: 18K white gold double ardillon buckle
In this new timepiece, Blancpain reunites once again a tourbillon with a carrousel in a new form. The subtle alliance between two timekeeping regulators gave birth to the caliber 2322V2.
Paired with a bezel sculpted into an innovative form, one which is both aggressive and sporty, the case houses both a flying tourbillon and flying carrousel. The dial, designed with multiple levels, reveals all of the complexity of the open worked movement.
The distinctive bezel, the form of the applied numerals together with the asymmetric form of the bridges and base plate, give the timepiece a unique place in the within the Blancpain collection. This latest design has been finely crafted with a frosted finish as well as a NAC coating (a galvanic process that bestows a dark color on the bridges and base plate). The forms of two cages, that of the tourbillon and that of the carrousel, have been subtly reimagined and reshaped.
The open worked movement, constructed on multiple levels, creates a sense of dynamism through its the depth. The movement’s screws have hexagonal shapes which adds a further dynamic touch to the ensemble. All of these design elements represent “firsts” for Blancpain.
The tourbillon is comprised of a rotating cage which carries with it the escapement and the balance wheel. The escape wheel’s pinion rotates as it turns around the exterior of the fixed seconds wheel. This rotation is the means by which the required energy is transmitted to the escapement and balance. The cage rotates once every minute which serves to cancel out rate variations in the vertical position.
The core idea of the carrousel, invented originally by Bonniksen in 1892, is similar to that of a classic tourbillon even though the cage is not rotated around a fixed seconds wheel, but instead is powered by a small gear. Two gear trains are utilized, one to rotate the cage and another to deliver power to the balance wheel and the escapement.
The lyre placed upon the carrousel’s cage represents the initials of the marque and has been realized by a laser cutting process. This is the first time that this particularly delicate work has been done on a component of such a small size.
Both the tourbillon and the carrousel are individually powered, each by its own barrel, which allows for a harmonious vertical placement of the two within the movement. Clever technical innovations were required to achieve simultaneous winding of the barrels of the tourbillon and the carrousel through a single crown, termed the winding crown, which encircles the entire movement.
The movement of the Tourbillon Carrousel is equipped with two differentials, one designed to combine the information from the two complications in order to average the two running rates and the second to produce the power reserve indication shown at the back of the watch.
The case is in platinum with a diameter of 47.40 mm and is fitted with an integrated black alligator strap. The Blancpain L-evolution Tourbillon Carrousel will be limited to but 50 examples.
Swiss luxury watch maker Ulysse Nardin launches Blue Cruiser, a sporty blue version of its iconic Freak Cruiser Timepiece. Equipped with the state of the art Carrousel-Tourbillon and the Dual Ulysse escapement in silicon, this brand new horology marvel highlights its bezel, rotating lower bridge and upper bridges in deep aquatic colours.
Stripped of its dial and hands, the Blue Cruiser, like the iconic Freak Cruiser, is designed so that movement revolves on itself. The rotating lower bridge indicates the hours, while the upper bridge, in the form of a skeletonised ship’s anchor- bearing the gear train, the balance spring and the exclusive Dual Ulysse silicon escapement – shows the minutes.
Christened the Flying Carrousel Tourbillon, this system is entirely free floating, as it no longer includes the centre pin which in previous incarnations was stowed with the sapphire crystal to support the entire structure.
Stripped of crown and push-pieces, the Blue Cruiser model is set to operate using the rotating bezel, in both directions. The winding barrel of this hand wound movement designed to offer a power reserve of more than seven days – this is done using the rear bezel mounted on ball bearings. These two elements – the front and lower bezels are thus an integral part of this exceptional manual wind movement, visible through the open case back.
Available in 18 carat white or rose gold, the Blue Cruiser’s case measures 45 mm in diameter and is fitted with a blue or brown alligator leather strap with deployant clasp.
Model: Blue Cruiser
Calibre UN 205
Movement indicates the time
Power reserve: 7 days, slip spring
Frequency: 4 Hz (28, 800 VPH)
Moment of inertia: 8mg/cm2, adjusting over 4 screws
Hair spring: Silicon, exclusive Ulysse Nardin Design
Escapement: Exclusive Dual Ulysse escapement in silicon, non lubricated
Orbit: 1 revolution in one hour
Winding: Manual winding over the back of the case (1 full rotation is equivalent to 12 hours of power reserve)
Hours and minutes displayed by the rotation of the movement
Time setting: Unlock devise and turn bezel
18 carat rose gold or 18 carat white gold
Diameter: 45 mm<span
Blancpain Villeret Carrousel Phases de Lune features a successful alliance between a carrousel and a moon phase, two of the brand’s most iconic horological complications.
This new model in the Villeret collection once again expresses the tradition of innovation driving the Manufacture. The new Blancpain 225L movement unites a carrousel, a moon phase and a date for the very first time. Having been consigned to oblivion over a century, the carrousel (karussel) was brought back by Blancpain to the forefront of the watchmaking scene in 2008, with the introduction of the world’s first flying carrousel to perform a one-minute rotation.
Like the tourbillon, the carrousel also aims to reduce the effects of gravity on the rate of the movement. The distinction between these two devices lies in their construction. Whereas the tourbillon is linked to the barrel by one gear train, the carrousel has two : the first supplies the energy required to drive the escapement ; while the second controls the rotation speed of the carriage.
The moon phase is another complication that had experienced an almost total eclipse until it was reintroduced by Blancpain in the early 1980s. This new fully secured movement, comprising 281 parts including 61 for the carrousel carriage alone, is equipped with silicon balance-spring technology and endowed with a five-day power reserve.
This new timepieces bears all the signature codes of the Villeret collection. The double-stepped case frames a cambered grand feu enamel dial ; a blued steel serpentine hand indicates the date, while the delicately hollowed sage leaf-type hour and minute hands sweep gracefully across painted enamel Roman numerals.
The white dial features a 12 o’clock opening revealing the carrousel carriage with its complex mechanism, set exactly opposite the moon-phase indication at 6 o’clock.
The back of the 42 mm-diameter case carries the two under-lug correctors designed to adjust the date and moon phase. This patented Blancpain innovation enables smooth tool-free handling and also serves to preserve the pure lines of the case.
The same concern for detail is devoted to the finishes which are visible through the sapphire crystal case-back providing a view of the movement adorned with Côtes de Genèveas well as the open-worked and striated oscillating weight distinguished by a design echoing that of the carrousel carriage.
An alligator leather strap in chocolate brown for the 18-carat red gold version, or black for the platinum limited edition, sets the perfect finishing touch to the pure and elegant aesthetic appeal of this model.
Ulysse Nardin interprets its iconic Freak watch model which is originally launched in 2001 and unveils the new Freak Cruiser equipped with advanced and cutting edge technologies. This spectacular model equipped with a beautiful Carrousel-Tourbillon movement is completely redesigned, with a bezel dressed in aquatic fluting and a floating anchor in the form of a swing bridge.
Never before has a watch accomplished such a conceptual and technological leap forward for watchmaking – a feat that remains unrivalled even today. Stripped of its dial and hands, the Freak Cruiser is designed so that the movement revolves on itself. Linked to the center of this unusual vessel, the lower bridge indicates the hours, while the upper bridge – bearing the gear train, the balance spring and the exclusive Dual Ulysse silicon escapement –shows the minutes.
Named the Carrousel Tourbillon, this system, which defies the imagination, is entirely free-floating, as it no longer includes the center pin that previous incarnations bestowed with the sapphire crystal to support the entire structure.
The Dual Ulysse escapement also takes watchmaking to revolutionary new horizons. Its architecture abandons the traditional anchor and anchor wheel, and instead locates two silicon impulse wheels at its center. Each one is equipped with 18 active teeth which engage in turn, activating an alternator which transmits its energy directly to the balance staff — first in one direction, then in the other. This structure, which requires no lubrication, ensures that the force is always released in the direction of the balance rotation, thereby minimizing friction.
Furthermore, the natural oscillation of the silicon 1.1.1 balance spring – which beats at the high frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour (4 Hertz) – is only very slightly disturbed. In fact, the contact between the balance and the escapement takes place over a 32° arc, whereas this lifting angle is 48° on a Swiss lever escapement. The amount of disturbance is therefore reduced to a minimum.
But these are not the only secrets of the incredible manual-wind caliber UN-205, which generously reveals all through the sapphire case-back. Stripped of its crown, the Freak Cruiser is adjusted in a phenomenal way. Located between the lugs at 6 o’clock, a safety catch is used to liberate the rotating bezel. This adjusts the hours and minutes when turned in either direction. As for winding the barrel – designed to offer a power reserve of more than seven days – this is done using the rear bezel mounted on ball bearings. These two bezels front and back are an integral part of the movement.
With a diameter of 45 millimeters, mounted on an alligator strap with deployment buckle, the Freak Cruiser is as awe-inspiring as any treasures hidden on the seabed, available in 18-karat rose gold and 18-karat white gold.
Movement indicates the time
Power Reserve: 7 days, slip-spring
Frequency: 4Hz (28,800 v/h)
Moment of Inertia: 8 mg*cm2, adjusting over 4 screws
Hairspring: Silicon, exclusive Ulysse Nardin design
Escapement: Exclusive Dual Ulysse escapement in silicon, non-lubricated
Orbit: 1 revolution in one hour
Winding: Manual winding over the back of the case
1 full rotation is equivalent to 12 hours of power reserve
H/M displayed by the rotation of the movement
Time Setting: Unlock device and turn bezel
18-karat rose gold or 18-karat white gold
Diameter: 45 mm
Swiss luxury watch brand Ulysse Nardin unveils Freak Phantom, a proud addition to the iconic Freak line which was originally introduced in 2001. Since its induction, the Freak collection has featured groundbreaking advancements in technology, design and materials, particularly the use of silicium. The limited-edition Freak Phantom continues the evolution of this notorious family of watches.
Due to the unconventional design of the Freak’s tourbillon carrousel – one that possessed no traditional dial, crown or hands – and being the first timepiece to successfully present escapement wheels constructed of silicium, the Freak forever changed the course of haute horology. The Freak Phantom pays tribute to the revolutionary Freak by expanding its use of silicium and taking its tourbillon to new heights.
Covert-like in appearance, the Freak Phantom is a timepiece of true invention. A limited edition of 99, it uses silicium in its patented hairspring (Si 1.1.1.) and throughout the majority of its escapement. The in house produced movement offers an exceptional power reserve of more than eight days. Its performance is enhanced through its application of cutting-edge technology in the two ball-bearing systems; the balance-wheel concept and design; and the flying tourbillon that indicates the minutes with a tourbillon carrousel that does one complete rotation around the center in 60 minutes.
The cage of the Freak Phantom is equipped with an arrow indicating the seconds on a transparent halfcircle, rotating in one minute on itself, with the zero position holding steady on the axis of the minute indicator. The two specially conceived ball bearing systems enable the “flying” function of the minute movement and of the seconds-indicator tourbillon without the need for a supporting bridge.
Simple and user-friendly, the Freak Phantom can be wound by turning the lower bezel, and the time can be adjusted by turning the upper bezel; while the direct gear link crafted between the three “hands” averts dephasing, or the throwing of hours, minutes and seconds out of step when adjusting or readjusting time. Boldly masculine, its movement, presented in a shade of black, conveys an identity of silent strength, while its 18-karat rose-gold case reveals optimal elegance.
Limited Edition of 99 pieces
Movement indicates the time
Small seconds on flying tourbillon 60 Seconds
Power Reserve: more than 8 days, slip-spring
Frequency: 4Hz (28’800 v/h)
Moment of inertia: 8 mg*cm2, adjusting over 4 screws
Hairspring: Silicium 1.1.1., exclusive Ulysse Nardin design
Escapement: Silicium, non lubrificated
Tourbillon: 1 revolution in 1minute
Orbite: 1 revolution in one hour
Manual winding over the back of the case
1 full rotation is equivalent to 12 hours of power reserve
H/M displayed by the rotation of the movement
Small seconds on flying tourbillon
Time setting: unlock device and turn bezel
Having introduced a series of world firsts in its Carrousel Volant and Carrousel Minute Repeater models, the Manufacture Blancpain maintains its well-deserved status at the very peak of the watchmaking art, by becoming the first to associate these two horological complications with a flyback chronograph in a self-winding version.
Watch brands capable of presenting such highly complex models are few and far between, and even those that develop these movements in-house are an even rarer species. This unusual threesome in the Le Brassus collection is distinguished by a range of complications exclusive to Blancpain.
First of all, the carrousel (or karussel), an exceptional mechanism revived and revamped by Blancpain in 2008, is represented in this model by its famous one-minute flying carrousel. The next complication is minute repeater. Blancpain has conducted a great deal of research to optimizing the sound of its repeater mechanisms.
The blades of its cathedral gong wrap one and a half times around the movement in order to emit a sound of surprising quality. Its transmission is optimised by fixing the gongs inside the case, a solution making it possible to achieve remarkable volume and clarity. The latest improvement to the purity of the sound is a flying governor that reduces the background noise produced by the movement. Finally, to avoid any risk of damage, the system automatically disconnects the crown-adjustment system when the repeater slide is activated.
The third function also stemming from the Blancpain classic legacy is the chronograph, the king of short-time measurements, particularly with the flyback or instant-restart function (historically used by pilots). Simply pressing the pusher at 4 o’clock enables the wearer to restart a time measurement while a first measurement is in progress.
Meanwhile, the recurrent signature features of chronographs from the Manufacture – namely the column wheel and the vertical coupling-clutch – ensure the peerless precision of the function’s activation.
This original version of an unusual arrangement featuring a 30-minute counter at the centre of the calibre demonstrates the horological mastery of the Blancpain movement design engineers. The extreme user friendliness of this new chronograph is matched only by its inner complexity.
This triple association is presented in a new red gold 45 mm case with a chapter ring, a 30-minute and hour-markers in grand feu enamel. Radiating an understated and effective style, the combination of the openworked dial and the sapphire crystal case-back both highlights and provides in-depth views of this complex device.
The special-shaped chronograph minutes and seconds hands are long enough to ensure maximal readability as they sweep over their corresponding indexes in an aesthetically pleasing way.
As one would expect from such an exclusive calibre, the bridges and mainplate are in 18-carat gold, a material that does nothing to facilitate the arduous task of the watchmakers from the Vallée de Joux.
The entire sum of this legacy and this expertise is combined within the new Carrousel Répétition Minutes Chronographe Flyback in the Le Brassus collection – a line epitomising the peak of the watchmaking art and vividly reflecting Blancpain’s innovative strength.
The tourbillon and the carrousel (karussel) are two of the major devices aimed at reducing gravity-related effects on the running of the movement. For the first time in horological history, Blancpain introduces a wristwatch combining these two regulators.
The Manufacture from Le Brassus achieves a true technical feat by associating the tourbillon and the carrousel, two of the brand’s emblematic complications, in a model equipped with a flying tourbillon at 12 o’clock, a flying carrousel at 6 o’clock, and a date display at 3 o’clock.
The eye is immediately drawn to the surprising differences and similarities between the mechanisms, as well as to the beauty of their rotation. The two independent carriages are linked by a differential gear system, which transmits the average rate of both regulators to the time display.
An external winding crown enables both barrels to be wound simultaneously while guaranteeing their equal winding, thereby endowing this timepiece with impressive precision along with a comfortable seven-day power reserve. The sapphire crystal case-back provides a fascinating view of this ingenious mechanism as well as of the power-reserve indication.
In reviving the carrousel and opening up whole new vistas for this historical device, the Manufacture from Le Brassus effectively redefined it. It thus offers a genuine alternative to the tourbillon, but is distinguished by the way in which it accomplishes this function.
These two systems pursue the same purpose, but differ in terms of their construction. In the case of the tourbillon, the carriage is linked to the barrel via a single gear train, which means that if this mechanical connection is interrupted, the tourbillon also stops rotating. The carrousel is connected to the barrel by two gear trains: the first delivers the energy required for the operation of the escapement, while the second controls the carriage rotation speed.
The difference between the two systems thus consists in a more elaborate construction involving more components for the carrousel, but ensuring the smooth cohabitation of both devices is a true challenge and a world first achieved by the Blancpain watchmakers.
Blancpain devotes considerable care to the movement finishing; on the dial side, the mechanism cover which is open-worked to provide glimpses of the moving parts in action features a flinqué decoration that is echoed on the bridge side to create a harmonious overall effect. The wheels echo the design of the brand’s signature bevelled wheel rim-style gears. This keen attention lavished on decorative elements endows this model with singular depth.
This complication is equipped with the new hand-wound Calibre 2322 measuring 35.3 mm in diameter and 5.85 mm thick, composed of 379 parts including two new silicon balance-springs.
The 44.60 mm diameter case is extremely pleasant to wear thanks to its elegantly slender design measuring just 11.94 mm thick.
The dial with its discreet aesthetic has a grand feu enamel chapter ring bearing 5N gold Roman numerals. The alligator leather strap with alzavel lining is fitted with a triple-blade folding clasp ensuring optimal comfort and user friendliness.
Half a decade ago, Swiss luxury watch brand Ulysse Nardin created a buzz in the history of traditional watchmaking by unveiling a watch code named “FREAK”. Until now, this watch has represented the pinnacle of both technological and artistic watchmaking. Produced in very small numbers, the original FREAK is sought after by the most elite and respected watch connoisseurs around the world.
No watch company has ever produced a timepiece like the FREAK – one of the most technically innovative watches conceived, designed and produced in the past 100 years. The concept was a technical tour de force, requiring the combined efforts of three of watchmaking’s most renowned engineers. The arrangement of parts was inconceivably unorthodox – it had essentially no true case. The crystal and the bezel were actually part of the movement; the Freak had no crown, no hands and the movement pivoted to indicate time.
It contained fewer parts than the simplest watch today, and remained a Carrousel Tourbillon by necessity. No watch had ever been designed this way. The development of the FREAK pioneered the use of silicium in the context of necessity – not for decoration or to be different. While developing this novel escapement the Ulysse Nardin engineers explored the various opportunities to be had with the implementation of nanotechnology. Indeed, the accuracy and lightness (accompanied with the ease in designing complicated movement parts) confirmed the unique abilities of silicium for the production of our escapement wheels.
The primary goal of the brand continues to be the improvement of the products, while increasing their maximum life span and protecting the mechanism against external strains and stress. Diamond “forever” is the ideal material to achieve this purpose. Beginning in 2005 Ulysse Nardin successfully applied diamonds on the FREAK DIAMOND HEART. The latest advancements in technology allow for alloying the light and easy-to-design silicium with diamond. Years of intense work at La Chaux-de-Fonds and Le Locle have culminated with Ulysse Nardin presenting the incredibly supercharged and highly tuned version of the FREAK – the FREAK DIAMonSIL®.
The FREAK DIAMonSIL® in platinum is the first timepiece sporting a synthetic nanocrystal diamond escapement grown on a silicium raw part. This noble material was developed in cooperation with Sigatec (a highly qualified manufacturer of precision silicium parts) and its partner GFD in Ulm (leader in producing components in diamond with nanotechnology for various industries). The FREAK DIAMonSIL® represents the next leap forward for Ulysse Nardin.
The FREAK DIAMonSIL® is the embodiment of its proud tradition of 160 years of Innovation with Ulysse Nardin leading the way in silicium and diamond technology. The FREAK DIAMonSIL® is a technical work of art, a symphony in white and blue in a Limited Edition of 28 pieces in Platinum.
Dual Ulysse Escapement
The Dual Ulysse Escapement is the most vital part of the watch movement and is made in this very light but extremely strong and novel material : DIAMonSIL®, a registered trademark of Ulysse Nardin. The Dual Ulysse Escapement has 2 wheels, allowing natural force transmission: the force and the move have the same direction, alternatively clockwise with the first wheel and counter-clockwise with the second. The wheels have 18 active teeth, guaranteeing excellent energy transmission to the oscillator. No lubrication is required – the transmission occurs through a “gear like” mechanism. The impulse is given to an alternator, which passes it further to the balance shaft. This alternator is a gear which turns alternatively in one direction and then the opposite direction. The innovative principle of the Dual Ulysse Escapement permits a dramatic reduction of the lift angle from the usual 50-52 degrees (Swiss Anchor) down to approximately 30 degrees. The lift angle is the arc run by the balance between its first contact with the escapement and its last contact. The shorter the arc, the lower is the disturbance of the natural oscillation of the balance.
Launched in 2011, this high complication watch from Blancpain’s LE BRASSUS collection features a Minute Repeater Carrousel complication with cathedral gong. Equipped with the caliber 232 hand-wound movement, the watch features a one-of-a-kind erotic scene on its case back.
Comprised of 417 components, the 47 jewels mechanical hand wound movement has a power reserve of 65 hours.
Dressed in a 45mm red gold case, the Blancpain Le Brassus Erotic Minute Repeater Carrousel watch boasts a white grand feu enamelled dial with Roman numeral hour markers.
The Freak Diavolo Rolf 75 timepiece from Ulysse Nardin introduces further ground breaking innovations, materials and design in addition to the original technological advancements introduced by its predecessors, the iconic Freak and its further models.
Launched in 2001, the Ulysse Nardin Freak is an ultramodern, minimalist and unconventional carrousel watch that possesses no true dial, crown or hands. Also, it was the first timepiece to successfully present escapement wheels constructed of silicium. Now, the Freak Diavolo Rolf 75 pays tribute to the original Freak’s pioneering spirit by expanding its use of silicium and taking its tourbillon to new heights.
Named after its devilish-in-appearance power-reserve backing, with its red “horns” and black cloak-like backdrop, the Freak Diavolo is the cleverest of timepiece creations. Case in point, silicium is used in its hairspring (Si 1.1.1. patent pending) and throughout the majority of its escapement – the heart and most delicate part of the watch. Performance is further amplified through its application of cutting-edge technology, such as photolithography. And, the Freak Diavolo reveals another development in the Freak family – a flying tourbillon that indicates the seconds, as well as two new ball-bearing systems and a balance-wheel concept and design.
Developed entirely in-house, its tourbillon carrousel does one complete rotation around the center in 60 minutes. The Freak Diavolo’s frequency of 4 Hz (28’800 A/h) in association with its 8 mg*cm2 inertia balance wheel make this instrument exceptional, as no other tourbillon is regulated by such a powerful oscillator and benefits from such a long power reserve (more than eight days). Its outstanding performance is the result of the perfect application of new technologies, such as photolithography, and the use of the best and latest-developed materials, like silicium and LIGA nickel, at core locations.
Ulysse Nardin’s expertise in watchmaking is further exemplified by the Freak Diavolo’s seconds indicator, which is nothing else than a flying tourbillon replacing the usual oscillator of the other members of the Freak family. Its cage is equipped with an arrow indicating the seconds on a yellow half-circle, rotating in one minute on itself, with the zero position holding steady on the axis of the minute indicator.
The two specially conceived ball bearing systems enable the “flying” function of the minute movement and of the seconds-indicator tourbillon without the need for a supporting bridge. So simple and user-friendly, the Freak Diavolo can be wound by turning the lower bezel, and the time can be adjusted by turning the upper bezel; while the direct gear link crafted between the three “hands” averts dephasing, or the throwing of hours, minutes and seconds out of step when adjusting or readjusting time.
Dressed in a platinum case, the Freak Diavolo features a stuuing aesthetic with its clean lines, robust black and charcoal tones, and accents of vibrant color. An elegant crocodile strap secures the timepiece to the wrist. The Freak Diavolo Rolf 75 is available in a limited edition of 75 pieces.
Power Reserve: more than 8 days, slip-spring
Frequency: 4Hz (28’800 A/h)
Moment of inertia: 8 mg*cm2, adjusting over 4 screws.
An evolution of the iconic Freak – a game changer in haute horology – the Freak Diavolo follows in its predecessor’s footsteps, showcasing unrivaled advancements in technology, materials and design.
Ulysse Nardin, the Swiss watchmaker acclaimed for its thousands of “firsts” in watchmaking, takes the lead in ingenuity, once again with the new Freak Diavolo, a progression of the groundbreaking 2001 Freak.
Due to the ultramodern, minimalist and unconventional design of the Freak’s tourbillon carrousel – one that possessed no true dial, crown or hands – and being the first timepiece to successfully present escapement wheels constructed of silicium, a revolutionary material at the time, the Freak forever changed the course of haute horology. Now, like its siblings – the Freak DIAMonSIL®, Freak Diamond Heart and Freak Blue Phantom – the Freak Diavolo pays tribute to the original Freak’s pioneering spirit by expanding its use of silicium and taking its tourbillon to new heights.
Named after its devilish-in-appearance power-reserve backing, with its red “horns” and black cloak-like backdrop, the Freak Diavolo is the cleverest of timepiece creations. Case in point, silicium is used in its hairspring (Si 1.1.1. patent pending) and throughout the majority of its escapement – the heart and most delicate part of the watch. Through the introduction of silicium in the original Freak, Ulysse Nardin transformed haute horology manufacturing and continues to perfect the use of this technologically advanced material with the Freak Diavolo. Performance is further amplified through its application of cutting-edge technology, such as photolithography. And, the Freak Diavolo reveals another development in the Freak family — a flying tourbillon that indicates the seconds, as well as two new ball-bearing systems and a balance-wheel concept and design.
Its tourbillon carrousel (developed entirely in-house) does one complete rotation around the center in 60 minutes. The Freak Diavolo’s frequency of 4 Hz (28’800 A/h) in association with its 8 mg*cm2 inertia balance wheel make this instrument exceptional, as no other tourbillon is regulated by such a powerful oscillator and benefits from such a long power reserve (more than eight days). This enables the Freak Diavolo’s tourbillon carrousel to provide a superior level of accuracy akin to a mechanical chronometer. Its outstanding performance is the result of the perfect application of new technologies, such as photolithography, and the use of the best and latest-developed materials, like silicium and LIGA nickel, at core locations.
Ulysse Nardin’s expertise in watchmaking is further exemplified by the Freak Diavolo’s seconds indicator, which is nothing else than a flying tourbillon replacing the usual oscillator of the other members of the Freak family. Its cage is equipped with an arrow indicating the seconds on a transparent half-circle, rotating in one minute on itself, with the zero position holding steady on the axis of the minute indicator.
The two specially conceived ball bearing systems enable the “flying” function of the minute movement and of the seconds-indicator tourbillon without the need for a supporting bridge.
So simple and user-friendly, the Freak Diavolo can be wound by turning the lower bezel, and the time can be adjusted by turning the upper bezel; while the direct gear link crafted between the three “hands” averts dephasing, or the throwing of hours, minutes and seconds out of step when adjusting or readjusting time.
Not only brilliant in function, the Freak Diavolo is also stunning in aesthetic with its clean lines, robust black and charcoal tones, accents of vibrant color, 18-karat, white gold case and elegant crocodile strap. The Freak Diavolo is the ultimate symbol of unwavering imagination and unusual style, staying true to the inventive character that defines the Freak timepiece collection.
Power Reserve: more than 8 days, slip-spring
Frequency: 4Hz (28’800 A/h)
Moment of inertia: 8 mg*cm2, adjusting over 4 screws.
Topping the pyramid of Blancpain’s Basel 2010 new releases is the Carrousel Répétition Minutes Le Brassus. This grand complication, for the first time in watchmaking history, combines a flying one-minute carrousel and a cathedral gong minute repeater.
Few in the watchmaking industry are able to offer the minute repeater complication and of those only a handful have developed their own minute repeater movement. Since the late 80s, Blancpain has developed and steadily produced not one but two different minute repeater movements. In 2010, Blancpain changes that total to three, with the introduction of the Carrousel Répétition Minutes Le Brassus.
This entirely new grand complication showcases a host of exclusive Blancpain innovations. The minute repeater features a cathedral gong striking mechanism, meaning that its sounding rings are extra long, circling the movement one and a half times to produce superior richness in the sound.
The transmission of sound from the movement through the case remains a classic challenge for minute repeater developers. Blancpain has met that challenge by attaching the cathedral gong rings to the inside of the case, a solution which achieves industry leading volume and clarity. Further enhancing the performance of the repeater, Blancpain has developed a special flying regulator for the movement.
Historically repeaters have been vulnerable to damage if the owner attempts to change the time while the repeater is engaged and sounding. An innovation addresses this problem; actuation of the repeater disconnects the mechanism from the crown, thus eliminating the risk of damage if the crown is manipulated. As befits such a complicated movement, the red gold movement bridges and mainplate are individually hand engraved.
The heart of this new Le Brassus timepiece is Blancpain’s one minute flying carrousel, which established a multitude of world firsts when it was introduced two years ago, including the world’s first one minute carrousel, first flying carrousel and first carrousel in a wristwatch.
This unique combination of carrousel and minute repeater debuts in a 45mm red gold case with a brushed white gold chapter ring and red gold applied numerals.
The combination of an opened dial center and sapphire case back allows a perfect view of the complex minute repeater mechanism and hand carving of the movement bridges.
Ulysse Nardin updates its Freak collection by presenting FREAK Blue Phantom, a technical work of art, in 18 ct white gold highlighted with blue. Bridges and metal parts have been treated with a stainless blue titanium based alloy (ion sputtering process). Where necessary, the metal parts have been reworked to accommodate the blue coating, the thickness of which is 1 micron with a hardness of 1500 HV. The tip of the hour and minute marker are in superluminova and thus enhancing the visibility of the time indication.
Early in 2001, Ulysse Nardin unveiled a watch code named “FREAK”. Produced in very small numbers, the original FREAK is sought after by the most elite and respected watch connoisseurs around the world.
No watch company has ever produced a timepiece like the FREAK – one of the most technically innovative watches conceived, designed and produced in the past 100 years. The concept was a technical tour de force, requiring the combined efforts of three of watchmaking’s most renowned engineers. The arrangement of parts was inconceivably unorthodox – it had essentially no true case.
The crystal and the bezel were actually part of the movement; the Freak had no crown, no hands and the movement pivoted to indicate time. It contained fewer parts than the simplest watch today, and remained a Carrousel Tourbillon by necessity.
The development of the FREAK pioneered the use of silicium in the context of necessity – not for decoration or to be different. While developing this novel escapement the Ulysse Nardin engineers explored the various opportunities to be had with the implementation of nanotechnology. Indeed, the accuracy and lightness (accompanied with the ease in designing complicated movement parts) confirmed the unique abilities of silicium for the production of escapement wheels.
The Dual Ulysse Escapement is the most vital part of the watch movement and is made in silicium. The Dual Ulysse Escapement has 2 wheels, allowing natural force transmission: the force and the move have the same direction, alternatively clockwise with the first wheel and counterclockwise with the second. The wheels have 18 active teeth, guaranteeing excellent energy transmission to the oscillator. No lubrication is required – the transmission occurs through a “gear like” mechanism. The impulse is given to an alternator, which passes it further to the balance shaft. This alternator is a gear which turns alternatively in one direction and then the opposite direction.
The innovative principle of the Dual Ulysse Escapement permits a dramatic reduction of the lift angle from the usual 50-52 degrees (Swiss Anchor) down to approximately 30 degrees. The lift angle is the arc run by the balance between its first contact with the escapement and its last contact. The shorter the arc, the lower is the disturbance of the natural oscillation of the balance.
Model: FREAK Blue Phantom
Caliber UN-202, 13 ¾’’’
Dual Ulysse Escapement in silicium
Power-Reserve: 7 days
Winding: The mainspring is wound with the case back
Carrousel Tourbillon displaying hours and minutes
Dual Ulysse Escapement 28’800 V/h (4 Hz)
Turning bezel with lock device to set the time
Case, dial and strap
White gold case
Diameter: of case 44.5 mm
Crystal: Anti reflective sapphire crystal
Case-back: sapphire crystal
Band: Alligator leather strap, folding buckle
The introduction of the Ulysse Nardin Freak in 2001 created a sensation among watch enthusiasts and inspired many other companies to take mechanical timepieces to a new level. The Carrousel Tourbillon and the Dual Direct Escapement devised by Ludwig Oechslin were innovations never seen before. Evolution is an integral part of any Ulysse Nardin product and this year the Freak returns with some major modifications, such as the Dual Ulysse Escapement which allows a balance frequency of 28’800 vibrations per hour.
The two wheels that form the central element of the Dual Ulysse Escapement have 18 active teeth each compared with 5 active wheels in the Dual Direct Escapement, thus improving the flow of energy. The winding mechanism in the case back is stabilized with a ball bearing system, resulting in reduced friction and facilitating the winding of the main spring. Very visible is the ingenious lock system of the case bezel, which prevents the time adjuster from moving unintentionally.
The Freak 28’800 V/h is a 7-day Carrousel Tourbillon, without hands, without dial or crown, and with an amazingly simple, novel escapement that needs no lubrication. The Freak 28’800 V/h is produced in 18 ct white and rose gold, and is available on a leather strap with an 18 ct gold folding buckle.
The 7-Day Carrousel Tourbillon, an invention of Dr. Ludwig Oechslin
No hands, no dial – this watch does not need them. The Freak 28’800 V/h indicates the time by the rotation of the movement. The arrow decorating the main spring barrel indicates the hour while the upper bridge, fitted with the balance wheel assembly and its revolutionary Dual Ulysse Escapement, revolves once every hour indicating the minutes. During its 60 minute rotation, the upper bridge lays bare the mechanics of time. The center axis pivots in the sapphire crystal of the watch case. This is a spectacular sight, accentuated by the finishing skills of Ulysse Nardin’s watchmakers in Le Locle.
In other Tourbillons, the balance wheel assembly moves once every minute in a cage. In the Freak 28’800 V/h, the entire movement, including the balance wheel assembly, rotates once an hour inside the watch case.
The 28’800 V/h Oscillator
The 4 Hz frequency and the 7 mg*cm2 moment of inertia provide the FREAK 28’800 V/h an accuracy comparable to the mechanical Chronometers. The Balance wheel represents a new Ulysse Nardin design and concept. It bears 4 inertia adjusting screws which are hidden within the rim, thus avoiding the creation of air turbulence. The spiral length is not adjustable, the frequency is found by adjusting the inertia of the balance.
The Dual Ulysse Escapement
The Dual Direct Escapement which was developed for the first generation Freak opened a new field of discovery and potential improvement in the vast domain of the escapement. The Dual Ulysse represents the next step in that development, showing several novelties and incorporating the advantages brought by its predecessor. The Dual Ulysse Escapement has 2 wheels, allowing natural force transmission: the force and the move have the same direction, alternatively clockwise with the first wheel and counter-clockwise with the second.
The wheels have now 18 active teeth, guaranteeing a good energy transmission to the oscillator. No lubrication is required – the transmission is made through a “gear like” mechanism. The impulse is given to an alternator which passes it further to the balance shaft. This alternator is a gear which turns alternatively in one direction and then the opposite direction.
The innovative principle of the Dual Ulysse Escapement permits a dramatic reduction of the lift angle from the usual 50-52 degrees (Swiss Anchor and Dual Direct) down to approximately 30 degrees. The lift angle is the arc run by the balance between its first contact with the escapement and its last contact. The shorter the arc is, the lower is the disturbance of the natural oscillation of the balance.
Main spring and Winding Mechanism
The main spring is located underneath the movement and spans across the entire case diameter. A ball-bearing consisting of 196 balls maintains the barrel in a very stable position, minimizing friction. The main spring’s extra large size provides the Freak 28’800V/h with a power reserve of one week.
Ref. 020-88 18 ct white gold
Ref. 026-88 18 ct rose gold
Caliber UN-200, 13 ¾’’’
Power-Reserve: approximately 7 days
Winding: Manual winding mechanism over the back case
Functions: Carrousel Tourbillon
Display of the hours and minutes
Patented Dual Ulysse Escapement
28’800 V/h (4 Hz)
Turning bezel with lock device to set the time
Case and band
18 ct gold
Diameter of case: 44.5 mm
Crystal: Anti reflective sapphire crystal
Case-back: Anti reflective sapphire crystal
Band: Alligator leather strap, with 18 ct gold folding buckle
During Basel world 2008, Blancpain once again displayed its innovative strength by presenting the first ever movement equipped with a one-minute karussel. A complication all but forgotten for over a century by the great names in the watch industry, the karussel is a viable alternative to the tourbillon. Like the latter, it aims to reduce the effect of gravity on the rate of a movement.
By rehabilitating this mechanisms and opening up whole new horizons for this mechanism reduced to wristwatch size for the very first time, Blancpain once again makes its mark on watchmaking history and puts a stylish end to the heated debate between exponents of diverging views on the definition of the karussel.
Blancpain Carrousel Volant Une Minute – World’s First Karussel Wristwatch
Whereas very few brands in 1989 fully mastered the creation of classical tourbillons, Blancpain already stood out from the crowd by presenting the world’s thinnest tourbillon. To achieve this, the master-watchmakers of the Manufacture in Le Brassus had modified the classic arrangement of the balance in order to achieve optimal slenderness. In doing so, they had naturally deviated from the architecture of the historical model developed by Abraham-Louis Breguet on which the balance was placed at the very centre of the carriage.
Blancpain’s decision to take such a liberty had already generated a number of reactions among connoisseurs, some of whom found it hard to recognise such an unusual composition as a genuine tourbillon. While the function was definitely there, the form had been entirely redesigned. This reinterpretation of a grand tradition already confirmed Blancpain its two-fold role as the guardian of a noble heritage and an enlightened innovator.
A major patented evolution
The new Carrousel Volant Une Minute by Blancpain stems from a parallel process. Invented in 1892 by the watchmaker Bahne Bonniksen, the karussel features a system driving the carriage by a differential effect. Long ignored by watchmaker, it has not been updated by the Manufacture which is offering a major patented evolution of the mechanism.
While the early karussels took several minutes to perform a complete rotation, the one introduced by Blancpain takes exactly 60 seconds to cover the same distance – an impressive feat in itself. This swift movement and the effort devoted to reviving this invention are entirely in tune with the pioneering spirit of the Manufacture in Le Brassus.
Code-named 225, the self-winding calibre comprises 262 parts and is endowed with a 100-hour power reserve. It is housed within a platinum case measuring 43.5 mm in diameter and enhanced by a semi-skeleton dial revealing an array of toothed wheels, bridges and plates.
A «light shaft» at 12 o’clock unveils the fascinating palpitations of the flying karussel, on which one of the carriage bridges indicates the seconds. The power reserve is displayed at 6 o’clock by a hand moving over an arc of a circle between the signs “+” and “-”. A double hand with arms of different lengths indicates the date on two graduated and staggered rows at 9 o’clock.
RENEWING THE KARUSSEL
After revolutionising the tourbillon in 1989 with the presentation of an ultra-thin flying model equipped with an off-centred balance, Blancpain now presents an unprecedented interpretation of the karussel complication in the shape of its Carrousel Volant Une Minute. This refined technical device, the equivalent of the tourbillon in terms of its function, is distinguished in this version by its eminent complexity.
Blancpain thereby confirms its peerless innovative status by rehabilitating and enhancing the karussel, a complication that had been virtually relegated into oblivion shortly after it was presented in 1992 by its creator Bahne Bonniksen. By taking up the principles established by its inventor and presenting them in a considerably more evolved version, the Manufacture again demonstrates its dynamic momentum – and in doing so puts an end to a controversy that has nurtured heated debates among specialists.
Tourbillons and karussels share the property of compensating for the effects of gravity on a watch movement. By making the entire mechanism spin on its axis within a carriage, the movement itself manages to compensate for the detrimental effects of gravity by acting as an authentic regulator of time.
Following images show the difference between a Tourbillon & Karussel movements.
Karussels and tourbillons differ however in the manner in which they perform this function. In a tourbillon, the carriage is connected to the barrel through a single gear train. This means that if this mechanical connection is interrupted, the tourbillon itself stops rotating.
The karussel on the other hand is linked to the barrel by two gear trains. The first provides the energy required to run the escapement, while the second controls the rotation speed of the carriage.
The difference between the two systems thereby consists in a more sophisticated and component-rich construction in the case of the karussel.
60 seconds and a Blancpain patent
In addition to the fact that it revives this under-exploited complication, the Blancpain Carrousel Volant Une Minute goes much further than Bonniksen’s initial invention. While the latter paid no particular attention to the speed of rotation, which amounted to anything from 27 to 42 minutes depending on the model, the Manufacture has opted to develop a complete differential gear control system. Here again, Blancpain sets itself apart by being the first watch brand to appropriate this prestigious invention by updating and perfecting it. Until now, the differential gear system regulating the rotation of the karussel carriage had not been the object of any in-depth research. By elaborating – and patenting – a system causing it to rotate in exactly 60 seconds, Blancpain makes yet another decisive contribution to watchmaking history.
1989: the Ultra-Slim Flying Tourbillon
This is not the first time that Blancpain revisits a legendary horological complication and offers a totally innovative interpretation. In 1989, the Manufacture had caused a sensation by presenting its Ultra-Slim Flying Tourbillon endowed with an 8-day power reserve. The Manufacture from Le Brassus had taken the liberty of offering its own take on one of the most iconic and refined horological mechanisms; the tourbillon as it had been designed by its inventor Abraham-Louis Breguet.
Rightly considered as one of the most inventive ever watchmakers due to the wealth and complexity of his discoveries, the native of Canton Neuchâtel, Abraham-Louis Breguet, registered his patent for the tourbillon in 1801. Containing a wealth of information, this document describes the operating principle of the complication and even provides an illustrated version of the system. This technical drawing shows an escapement placed at the centre of the carriage, an arrangement that would be taken up by generations of watchmakers as a reference in the field. Nonetheless, the document in no way states that this particular layout must be aided by at all costs, which means it provides scope for a different interpretation, providing the function is adhered to.
Blancpain took intelligent advantage of this opportunity by unveiling an original movement in 1989, equipped with the world’s thinnest-ever flying tourbillon. The news made a profound impact on the world of Haute Horlogerie purists. So accustomed were they to seeing this complication in the configuration suggested by Breguet, that the most traditional among them simply could not accept this alternative vision, which they incorrectly described as a karussel. Blancpain had achieved the master stroke of giving a new face to the tourbillon, while keeping its function intact.
With its Carrousel Volant Une Minute located at the centre of the mechanism, Blancpain once again redefines the characteristics of an ancient innovation. When Bahne Bonniksen invented the karussel, he was mostly interested in offering an extremely accurate pocket-watch with a very reasonable production cost. Once his discovery was patented, several of his watches won various chronometry prizes. Nonetheless, the very nature of his invention with the large number of components it comprised did not actually help to keep costs down. Moreover, Bonniksen was not at all concerned with the rotation speed of the carriage.
Watchmaking connoisseurs would doubtless have totally forgotten this ultra-rare complication if Blancpain had not decided to give it such a superlative new lease on life. Just as it had done with the tourbillon, the Manufacture in Le Brassus kept the function as such, while seeking to fundamentally improve it.
As the world’s first karussel wristwatch, Blancpain’s innovation consists first and foremost in its capacity to miniaturise this extremely complex mechanism. Another major innovative feature lies in the fact that the Blancpain watchmakers poured all their expertise and all their inventive abilities into placing the balance of this karussel at the very centre of the carriage. Finally, Blancpain’s Carrousel Volant Une Minute features an exclusive differential gear system that precisely controls the rotation speed of the carriage. By performing a complete revolution in one minute, this new world-first calibre heralds a whole new line of timepieces.
Above and beyond the technical challenges, the Manufacture from Le Brassus is taking an amusing revenge on history. Whereas several self-proclaimed specialists explained in 1989 that Blancpain’s tourbillon was in fact a karussel (due to its off-centred balance), they also stated in no uncertain terms that the central position of the balance was the very signature of a tourbillon. The Manufacture Blancpain is therefore has presented its undeniable karussel with a balance at the centre of the carriage.
THE BLANCPAIN CARROUSEL VOLANT UNE MINUTE
A truly prodigious horological construction, the Carrousel Volant Une Minute by Blancpain takes its place on the watchmaking stage as a genuine alternative to the tourbillon. The first ever wristwatch karussel, it is surprising not only by its construction with the balance at the centre of the carriage, but also by its size/power-reserve ration which makes this Blancpain timepiece the most high-performance karussel ever made.
The fruit of lengthy and in-depth endeavours, this newcomer to the catalogue of the Manufacture from Le Brassus does not belong to any existing family. The brand has therefore left it a place all its own, aside from the historical collections on which it has built its reputation.
Calibre 225 is a 262-part, 36-jewel movement featuring a balance with screws and a flat balance-spring. Driving the hour, minute, seconds and date functions, it houses a flying karussel performing a complete rotation in 60 seconds.
This mechanical self-winding calibre, beating at a frequency of 21,600 vibrations per hour, is endowed with a 100-hour power reserve. The date is adjusted by means of an exclusive under-lug corrector system developed and patented by Blancpain. Thanks to a pusher located beneath one of the case lugs at 10 o’clock, the wearer can adjust the date at the press of a finger. This aesthetic and practical under-lug correct guarantees optimal user friendless and particularly easy handling.
The semi-skeletonised dial reveals the intricate ballet of the toothed wheels and the pure architecture of the hand-bevelled bridges and plates. The dagger-shaped hour and minute hands, partially hollowed and tipped with a Superluminova coating, mark off the time on a railtrack composed of bevelled hour-markers and slender black lines. At 12 o’clock, a “light shaft” reveals the karussel in all its complexity. This elaborate stage-setting accentuates the shapes of the carriage, on which one of the bridges is shaped like a hand to indicate the seconds.
The power-reserve level is displayed at 6 o’clock by means of a hand moving over a scale running from the sign “+” to “-”. At 9 o’clock, the date is shown by a semi-circle also hugging the side of the dial. An ingenious system consisting of a double hand with two hands of different lengths provides a staggered read-off of the latter. The name “Blancpain” appears at 3 o’clock thereby ensuring a perfectly balanced overall visual effect.
To underscore the exceptional nature of the Carrousel Volant Une Minute, Blancpain has created an exterior worthy of its technical qualities. The 43.5 mm-diameter case, an unprecedented size in the brand universe, has been crafted from 950 platinum, the most precious of all metals and one of the hardest to fashion. Its restrained design and its generous size impart an aura of strength and elegance. The crown is fluted and stamped with the Blancpain logo, while the black crocodile leather strap is fitted with a folding clasp in 950 platinum.
BREGUET’S IDEA AND THAT OF BONNIKSEN
As early as 1770, faced with the difficulty of eliminating the causes of the flaw in the balance poising, Breguet had the brilliant idea of multiplying the causes in order to eliminate the effects. To achieve this, he conceived a means of mounting the entire escapement on a tiny platform that spun on its axis in one, four or six minutes. The flaws were thus repeated in one direction or the other at regular intervals, thereby cancelling each other out. The gain or loss sustained during one half-turn of the platform was automatically compensated for by the gain or loss sustained during the following half-turn.
Breguet described this principle in several memoirs written between 1779 and 1800, but it was on June 26th 1801 that the French Ministry of the Interior granted him the patent that gave him the sole right to build this type of watch during a 10-year period. The Breguet patent explains that, in a tourbillon regulator, whatever the type of escapement, whether of the lever or detent type, the escape-wheel is driven by the mobile carriage, which means that the latter is an integral part of the gear train. The balance also performs a revolution along its oscillation axis. In other words, the pivoting point of the Breguet balance is located firmly in the centre of the carriage – which is precisely the case for Blancpain’s karussel.
Almost a century after Breguet, the London-based Danish horologer Bahne Bonniksen set himself the goal of responding to a specific demand of that time: to create an extremely accurate pocket-watch that would cost less to make than a tourbillon. In 1892, he filed a patent for a watch that he named a karussel because of its rotating balance. The time taken to perform this rotation was of little importance to Bonniksen, some of whose watches were to win official observatory chronometry prizes.
While the objective of accuracy was indeed achieved by Bonniksen’s karussel, that of a more affordable price than the tourbillon proved a far tougher proposition. The Dane believed that the karussel would take less time to adjust, but the fact that it comprised far more components led to other difficulties. That was doubtless partly why the karussel was long neglected and disparaged – not to mention the fact that it was no easy feat to vie with an invention by the brilliant Breguet, official Court watchmaker!
Today, the karussel’s return to centre-stage thanks to Blancpain’s innovations should enable this function to regain its legitimate status and to demonstrate its authentic complexity. A complexity even more apparent in this innovative interpretation introduced by the Manufacture from Le Brassus, involving mastery of a differential gear system to succeed in rotating the carriage every 60 seconds.
Model: Carrousel “Volant Une Minute”, Ref. 00225-3434-63B
Carrousel “Volant Une Minute”, indication of the power-reserve, date and seconds, semi skeletonised dial, under-lug correctors, self-winding
Limited to 288 pieces
Thickness: 5.89 mm
Diameter: 26.20 mm
Power reserve: 100 hours
43.50 mm diameter
14.00 mm thickness
Water resistance: 100 meters
Sapphire crystal case back
The Palace Museum in the legendary Forbidden City is an iconic place of art and of international culture. It houses the world’s largest and richest collection of national treasures. Blancpain enjoys the immense privilege of having been chosen to represent contemporary watchmaking art in the Palace Museum.
The world’s oldest watch brand thus becomes the first and only Manufacture to display a modern wristwatch there. In recognition of this honour, Blancpain developed and crafted a one-of-a-kind version of its Carrousel Volant Une Minute. This timepiece was unveiled in an official donation ceremony held at the Palace Museum in 2008.
The Forbidden City and the Palace Museum
Lying at the heart of China’s capital city, Beijing, the 720,000 square-metre Forbidden City is considered the largest and most splendid palace in the world. Formerly carefully guarded, this palace has now open to the public and welcomes around 8 million visitors each year. Within its walls, the 160,000 square-metre Palace Museum faithfully preserves over 1,500,000 works of art and objets d’art.
The Watch and Clock Hall houses one of the largest collections of mechanical timepieces, comprising over 1000 models from the 18th and 19th centuries – but no modern wristwatch up until now! A worthy ambassador of the art of watchmaking, Blancpain has been entrusted with the immense privilege of exhibiting the first and only modern wristwatch there.
One-of-a-kind Carrousel Volant Une Minute
In tribute to this inestimable distinction and as an emissary of Swiss watchmaking in the Watch and Clock Hall of the Palace Museum, Blancpain created a one-of-a-kind version of its remarkable karussel watch, christened the Blancpain Qiankun Carrousel.
This wristwatch is crafted from 18-carat white gold. Its half-open worked opaline dial depicts the “Yin and Yang” symbol and reveals the noble, restrained architecture of the entirely hand-decorated movement. The partially hollowed hour and minute hands are dagger shaped, while a round dial opening at 12 o’clock highlights the stunning intricacy of the karussel.
The back of the 43.5 mm-diameter case is inscribed with the words “The Palace Museum” and “Pièce Unique”. Through the sapphire crystal, one may admire the oscillating weight specially designed for this model and bearing the inscriptions “1735”, and the names “Qianlong” and “Blancpain”. These inscriptions commemorate a striking coincidence in the history of Blancpain and that of the Forbidden City: 1735, the date Blancpain was founded, also witnessed the coronation of the Chinese emperor Qianlong.
At the centre of the oscillating weight, the exquisitely and accurately drawn depiction of the Forbidden City serves as an eloquent reminder of the inseparable tie between this exceptional watch and the showcase in which it will now shine.
The Carrousel Volant Une Minute by Blancpain is a vivid reflection of the innovative strength and pioneering spirit of the Manufacture in Le Brassus. While similar to the tourbillon in terms of its capacity to reduce the effects of gravity on the rate of the watch movement, the karussel had sunk into oblivion for almost a century, until the Blancpain master-watchmakers revealed its potential by entirely rethinking its conception.
Blancpain has achieved the impressive feat of miniaturising this mechanism to the size of a wristwatch and conceived the world’s only flying karussel to perform a complete rotation in exactly 60 seconds. The technical refinement and the eminent complexity of this masterly watch naturally predestined it for a glorious fate.
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