Hubert Burda Media

SIHH 2017 Highlights: Ulysse Nardin

The manufacturer marks its SIHH debut with the InnoVision 2, a watch that boasts 10 innovations.

Ulysse Nardin’s SIHH debut timepiece InnoVision 2 is not for sale, nor is it intended for sale. Launched a decade after InnoVision 1, the concept piece is a test bed for creative solutions and technical innovations that will eventually find their way into the brand’s future productions. Like the first InnoVision, this watch showcases 10 patent-pending innovations.

One of the key inventions is the Dual Constant Escapement, a sophisticated constant force device that is independent from the tension of the mainspring, and can deliver steady torque and amplitude from the barrel to the balance wheel and balance spring. Made of a silicon structure with flexible silicon blades, it contains elements of both the Dual Direct escapement system and the Ulysse Nardin Anchor Escapement. 

The watchmaker also experimented with DRIE (Deep Reactive Ion Etching) technology to attach different silicon components together. This is then used in its third innovation, the silicon balance wheel with gold mass elements and stabilising micro paddles. The silicon structure of the wheel means mass is significantly lower than that of conventionally constructed examples. The specially shaped regulator levers (shaped like paddles) even out air turbulence to control rate variations while the adjustable gold elements improve inertia.

A fourth innovation, the Grinder, is a system composed of ball bearings, ratchets and a two-stage satellite reduction gear, which results in a super energy-efficient self-winding mechanism.


In the fifth pending patent, Ulysse Nardin collaborated with the EPFL High School of Lausanne and Sigatec to develop a one micrometre sapphire film that can coat (and toughen) silicon surfaces, guaranteeing higher mechanical stability. This was used for the InnoVision 2’s elongated centre wheel bridge.

Innovations six and seven have to do with materials. The former proposes using 24k gold, instead of brass, to be used on gear wheels so that energy transmission will be more efficient; while the latter is built on the premise of using glass in the balance cock and the entire integrated shock protection system. According to the watchmaker, glass is flexible, strong, exhibits extraordinarily good frictional behaviour, and is nowhere as fragile as most conceive it to be. Presenting a balance cock in glass led to the eighth innovation: Delicate channels were created in the glass and filled with Super-Luminova so that it can glow in the dark.

Glass is also used on the three-dimensional minute hand that is mounted on a fine metal plate to protect it from violent impacts. This offers a resolution in the range of three to five micrometres, a feat that is currently unmatched in the market.

The last invention has to do with the display of time. Apertures within the dial show the hours printed on an hour disc that changes during midday and midnight, which effectively doubles up as a day/night indicator.  

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