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Published by Sugar & Cream, Monday 22 January 2024

Images courtesy of Ulysee Nardin

The Majestic Dragon Meets The Alluring Pearl

Since its debut in 2020, the Blast Tourbillon has established itself as the symbol of Ulysee Nardin’s unconventional know-how and design. With its angular, disruptive style, high-tech movement and iconic X structure, it emblemises Ulysee Nardin’s visionary spirit. To mark the Lunar New Year, this innovative edgy creation has been entwined with the ancient magic of Chinese folklore, where the majestic Dragon meets the alluring Pearl.

According to the traditional Chinese culture, 2024 heralds the Year of the Dragon. These revered creatures symbolise strength, power and good fortune. They are frequently associated with pearls, which represent purity, wisdom and wealth. When these two symbols come together, as in countless tales, they signify a harmonious blend of power, providence and prosperity.

These traditional representations show a dragon symbolically guarding a magical pearl. So it is with the new Ulysee Nardin Blast Tourbillon Dragon: the dazzling mythical creature, hand- sculpted in 5N rose gold, coils its way around and through the skeletonised X structure, as though slithering out from within the movement itself. Before it, protected between its five-clawed hands, the mythical pearl sits in prime position atop the cage of the flying tourbillon. The choice of five claws is not incidental: associated with Imperial dynasties, five-clawed dragons are traditionally seen as to signify the highest prestige.

In 2012, during the last Year of the Dragon, Ulysee Nardin presented the immaculate 88-piece limited edition, the Classico Enamel Champlevé Dragon, featuring a beautiful dragon artwork in enamel, a decorative art mastered by a handful of craftsmen and perpetuated by Ulysee Nardin. Fast forward to 2024, and this creature has exploded dramatically into life in three-dimensional form.

The creation of a 3D dragon appearing to slide its way beneath the watch’s hands and in between the plains of the gear train and the X structure presented significant challenges. Over a two-year development process, this has included designing this unique dial and making bespoke adjustments to the design of the Blast Tourbillon case, bezel, and glass-box crystal to accommodate this unique creation.

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The rose gold dragon, engraved and micro-painted entirely by hand, is a testament to elite artistry and skill, demanding four days of craftsmanship – three days for the engraving, and one for the painstaking application of gradated shades of red, orange and yellow. Every 3D aspect is modelled and rendered with utmost precision, from the scales of its rippling tail to its gleaming whiskers and the individual details of its claws.

Worlds collide as this fantastical creature wraps itself around a masterpiece of high-tech, avant-garde horology: the Ulysee Nardin Blast Tourbillon. Audaciously structured behind the dragon and the skeletonized dial, the Blast Tourbillon’s manufacture movement, Calibre UN-172, is as unorthodox as it is ingenious. Ulysee Nardin’s first skeleton tourbillon calibre with automatic winding launched in 2020, it features a platinum micro-rotor visible at 12 o’clock, a tiny but miraculous device that delivers up to three days of power reserve.

As ever with Ulysee Nardin’s most advanced timepieces, the flying tourbillon at 6 o’clock benefits from the Maison’s pioneering expertise in silicon fabrication. Introduced for the first time in 2001 with the revolutionary Freak, this material used for the escapement wheel, pallet fork, and balance spring adds further performance and resistance benefits.

With the Ulysee Nardin Blast Tourbillon, the movement and case are unified in both concept and construction – strikingly architectural, relentlessly modernistic, and emblematic of the independent Manufacture’s enduring mission to rethink and reinvent haute horlogerie.

The rose gold upper case, with its angular facets and its opulent variations in satin-brushed and polished finishes, is paired with a bezel and case middle in DLC-blackened titanium, all mounted on an integrated black alligator strap with a 5N rose gold and black PVD titanium folding clasp.

For those who seek the extraordinary and the daring, the Ulysee Nardin Blast Tourbillon Dragon is an embodiment of in-house innovations, métiers d’art and the magic of the Year of the Dragon. Fusing ancient mythology and cutting-edge horology, it invites you to celebrate the power and prosperity that this iconic symbol represents.

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