Ulysse Nardin celebrates Lunar New Year with the Blast Tourbillon DragonFergus Nash
- Ulysse Nardin have recreated their Year of the Dragon watch from 2012 in three dimensions.
- The golden dragon sculpture is executed in red gold and enamel, reaching out for a pearl in the tourbillon.
- It doesn’t shy away at 45mm in diameter, allowing space for the UN-172 movement specifically developed for skeletonisation
As the Year of the Dragon fast approaches in February, the list of limited edition watches grows. Celebratory releases of Chinese New Year are always going to have a majestic flair, however the Dragon reaches heightened significance. Not just because of its Chinese symbology, but because of its mythological status and iconic design. For Ulysse Nardin, any excuse for a lavish design is going to be grabbed with both hands. The Ulysse Nardin Blast Tourbillon Dragon blends their futuristic visions with the traditional imagery of a dragon protecting the prize of its hoard – a pearl.
Beginning with the architecture of the Blast Tourbillon, it’s one of Ulysse Nardin’s lesser-known models. While not as wild as the Freak, it’s definitely packed with genre-defying and complex details. The 45mm case is unashamedly beastly on the wrist, although the short-cropped lugs do aid its comfort significantly. The angles of the case facets are somewhat unpredictable and inorganic, and the contrast between the 18k 5N gold and the black DLC-coated titanium sections bring to mind the high-tech components of Iron Man’s suit. The most recognisable aspect of the watch has to be the X structure of the dial, which has become one of Ulysse Nardin’s modern calling cards.
Twelve years ago for the last Year of the Dragon, Ulysse Nardin released another celebratory watch. That edition was rendered in a two-dimensional enamel dial, and this year’s version has added depth to the equation. Not only has the enamel painting become a sculpture of red gold, but the dragon’s form now writhes and twists between the openworked dial’s struts. It’s not just a technical feat, it’s also an artistic one because of the illusion of life it brings to the display. The depth of colour is truly incredible, and the intricate texture is mesmerising from the scales to the fingernails. Of course, the pearl has been given pride of place at the centre of the tourbillon cage. Remaining within reach of the dragon’s grasp, it alluringly spins at the base of the dial.
Beneath the dragon is the Ulysse Nardin Calibre UN-172, originally launched in 2020. It’s a movement which has been designed specifically to be skeletonised, so each of its components is thoughtfully laid out and finished. Mirroring the flying tourbillon at 6 o’clock is a platinum micro-rotor at 12, which keeps the Blast Tourbillon Dragon’s 72-hour power reserve topped up throughout the day. Its beat rate is fairly low at 18,000 vibrations per hour, but that’s to be expected with a lot of tourbillon watches. The view of the movement through the sapphire caseback mainly consists of black-coated and gold bridges, again highlighting the X structure.
Ulysse Nardin Blast Tourbillon Dragon pricing and availability
The Ulysse Nardin Blast Tourbillon Dragon is now available from Ulysse Nardin retailers. Price: US$100,600
|Blast Tourbillon Dragon
|18k 5N Red gold and DLC-coated titanium
|Sapphire front and back
|Skeletonised with red gold dragon and pearl sculpture
|Black alligator strap and soft-touch rubber strap
|UN-172, in-house, micro-rotor automatic
|Hours, minutes, flying tourbillon