Never shy about highlighting its many technical advances, Ulysse Nardin has placed many of them directly onto a wide-open, 44mm stage with its newest Executive Tourbillon Free Wheel. With one glance at the watch the wearer spies, raised above the dial, each primary timekeeping and regulation component. Each is skeletonized and each seems to be floating in the air just below a stunning sapphire box crystal.
In two 44mm gold case options, Ulysse Nardin has placed the primary components of new Caliber UN-176 high on either a honeycomb grid or slate stage, allowing the viewer to sit in a front-row seat from which to observe the mechanism at work.
Note the dual barrels at the top of the dial, wound manually, delivering power to only a few very visible gears (and to others that are presumably hidden underneath the dial in a design choice akin to those used in so-called mystery clocks). They transfer an impressive seven-day power reserve through the Ulysse Nardin flying tourbillon with an unusual and highly efficient in-house Anchor Escapement. Also note a differential gear set at 8 o’clock that regulates the power to the power reserve indicator at 4 o’clock—and not much else.
The resulting spare presentation is fascinating. The raised-element display differs from more classical skeleton calibers. Instead of removing a dial, Ulysse Nardin allows the dial to serve as both screen and stage, dramatically presenting what’s visible – and hiding the rest. While Ulysse Nardin says the caseback is also made of sapphire, I’m not sure if the remaining gears are visible through the back or not as caseback photography was not immediately available.
The flying tourbillon’s award-winning Ulysse Anchor Escapement is another highlight here. Introduced in 2015, it replaces the traditional Swiss lever escapement system with Ulysse Nardin’s own low-friction silicon components, including thin silicon ‘blades’ that buckle, performing a back and forth motion that allows the pivot fork to impulse with no pivot. The result is a super efficient escapement, constant amplitude and no need for lubrication.
Unlike other Ulysse Nardin tourbillons, the 44mm Executive Tourbillon Free Wheel is not a limited edition. It’s a visually stimulating full production launch that is being made with a rose gold case fit with a black slate dial ($96,000) or white gold case with a grey honeycomb dial ($98,000).
SPECIFICATIONS: Ulysse Nardin Executive Tourbillon Free Wheel
References: 1760-176 / 1766-176
Case: 44mm rose gold or white gold, 30 meters water resistance, box-domed sapphire glass, sapphire crystal back
Movement: Caliber UN-176 Manufacture Movement with UN Certificate, silicon technology, manual winding; power reserve is seven days, Ulysse Nardin Anchor tourbillon
Dial: Hours, minutes, power reserve indicator and differential with gears on a grid or slate dial
Strap: Carbon Leather matte alligator