Amazing duo

By topgear, 08 December 2018

Dubbed its “most spectacular” creation yet, Ulysse Nardin’s Executive Tourbillon “Free Wheel” packs innovation that aims to turn watchmaking upside down.

Available in either white gold or rose gold, it’s startling inside and out: a brand new movement that seems to defy gravity and a quite astonishing, innovative box-domed sapphire that took months to research and develop.

The modern and sizable 44mm dial of the 18-carat rose gold version is made of dark stone carved from slate. The dial of the 18-carat white gold version, on the other hand, 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 made to look like they’re floating. That floating effect is seen too in the other ‘skeletonised’ components, the hour and minute indicators and the gear trains.

The sapphire glass box that houses these ‘flying’ elements has a structure of high complexity and finish, especially the polishing of the box angles – no doubt, a difficult achievement, requiring lengthy and painstaking experimentation. The caseback is in sapphire too, except there’s nothing to see beyond it. That’s because all the exquisite components are visible on the dial side, which is yet another different and notable feature of this tourbillon.

Powering the Ulysse Nardin Executive Tourbillon “Free Wheel” is the totally new UN-176 mechanical movement, developed entirely in house. 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.

Completing it is a pair of matte alligator wrist straps featuring a ‘carbon leather’ finish, which feels soft and silky to the touch. Despite its many exquisite traits, the “Free Wheel” is not positioned as a limited edition and can be acquired at any authorised Ulysse Nardin retailer worldwide.