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Ulysse Nardin Enhances Free Wheel Drama

We’ve been awaiting these newest versions of Ulysse Nardin’s Executive Tourbillon Free Wheel ever since we were advised by Stéphane Von Gunten, Ulysse Nardin’s research & innovation director, to keep an eye out for them during our discussion about his company’s Freak family updates several months ago.

This week Ulysse Nardin released those promised additions to the Executive Tourbillon Free Wheel family, and they are well worth the wait.

The 44mm multi-level watch with raised, free-floating components has been eye candy since its debut more than two years ago, but Ulysse Nardin has now sweetened this horological treat with a round of four new Executive Tourbillon Free Wheel models, each made with a different artisanal dial.

To review, the Free Wheel concept is Von Gunten’s ode to historic mystery clocks, with a few visible components floating above a dial operating in harmony thanks to cleverly placed gearing below. A dual barrel at the top of the dial is wound manually, delivering seven-days of power through the Ulysse Nardin flying tourbillon set with Ulysse Nardin’s unusual in-house, silicon Anchor Escapement.

Ulysse Nardin allows the dial to serve as both screen and stage, dramatically presenting what’s visible – and hiding the rest of Caliber UN-176. Above the dial you’ll see hands, the double barrel, just a few gears, a differential at 8 o’clock and a power reserve indicator at 4 o’clock.

Ulysse Nardin now enhances the drama with four evocative materials, each creating a new stage set for the gold-hued horological players. The new dials (and barrel covers) are made with Osmium, deep blue aventurine, straw marquetry and Ulysse Nardin’s own Carbonium gold.

The latter material, a fusion of carbon filaments and gold particles, you might recall from the Ulysse Nardin Executive Skeleton X Carbonium released earlier in 2019. When utilized here on the latest Executive Tourbillon Free Wheel model, the Carbonium appears almost like a leopard skin, raising the dial’s already heightened excitement level.

The osmium dial cools things down, appearing frosty and ice blue. Osmium is not only the world’s heaviest rare metal but also the densest. Ulysse Nardin has framed this version of the Free Wheel with a white gold case, highlighting the diamond-like osmium crystals.

Aventurine, with its deep blue color and quartz “stars,” evokes a clear night sky, while the darkest new dial, created by hand from blackened straw, appears the most mysterious to me, evoking a trip into or out of a dense black hole. Ironically, the straw is actually the lightest of the four new materials Ulysse Nardin has chosen for this round of updates to the Executive Tourbillon Free Wheel.

Ulysse Nardin will create eighteen examples each of the Executive Tourbillon Free Wheel using these four materials. Prices: $99,000 for the Aventurine, Straw Marquetry and Carbonium gold models, and $102,000 for the Osmium examples.

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