Ulysse Nardin’s latest high-complication piece is most spectacular innovation to date and it literally turns watchmaking upside down. We’re talking about Executive Tourbillon Free Wheel watch which is not a limited edition as other Ulysse Nardin tourbillons, but a full-run production launch. Visually stunning, it is a true technological marvel, destined for those who take delight in the leading-edge of engineering and aesthetics.
In sumptuous white or rose gold, with a brand-new movement that seems to defy gravity and a startlingly innovative box-domed sapphire that took months to research and develop, the Executive Tourbillon “Free Wheel” soars high above all expectations of what contemporary watchmaking craft and technology can achieve.
The modern-sized 44mm dial for the 18ct rose gold version is in dark stone, carved from a slab of slate. The 18ct white gold version is built on a sleek black honeycomb grid.
The most astonishing features are the dial’s tourbillon bridges and the 7-day power reserve indicator at four o’clock, which are shaped like boomerangs and look like they are miraculously floating in the air. So too do the other ‘skeletonized’ components, the hour and minute indicators and the gorgeous gear trains.
The sapphire glass box housing these ‘flying’ elements is another standout achievement. The structure’s complexity and finish—especially the polishing of the box angles—were extremely difficult to achieve, requiring lengthy and painstaking experimentation. The caseback too, is in sapphire, except there’s nothing to see inside, as, in a complete reversal of watchmaking convention, all the exquisite components are visible on the dial side.
The mechanical movement powering all this beauty is the brand-new UN-176, entirely developed in-house in La Chaux-de-Fonds. Its flying tourbillon is the “Ulysse Anchor Escapement”, a pioneering technology that replaces the traditional Swiss lever escapement system and uses Ulysse Nardin’s signature low-friction silicium instead of metal or synthetic rubies.
The strap is “carbon leather“ in matte alligator, exceptionally soft and silky to the touch.
The watch in rose gold (ref. 1766-176) is priced at $96,000, while the white gold version (ref. 1706-176) has a price tag of $99,000.