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Ulysse Nardin’s Executive Tourbillon Free Wheel: An Exercise in Re-Inventing the Wheel of Time

I could go on and on wax lyrical about watchmakers doing things differently for the sake of doing things differently. And in the process, the unfortunate and most common eventuality of that is a loss of identity and a whole lot of disappointment. But, and there’s always a but, from time to time we have a watch that not only retains a brand’s identity, but at the same time reinvigorates it, and reminds us, the people, just how important and special that brand is. The brand in question is Ulysse Nardin. And the watch? The absolutely incredible Executive Tourbillon Free Wheel.

There are two variations of the Ulysse Nardin Executive Tourbillon Free Wheel. One with a 44mm wide 18k rose gold case and dark stone dial, and the other again with a 44mm wide case, this time made of 18k white gold and with a black honeycomb-patterned dial. While the white gold version is, in its own right, really quite sexy, my heart was instantly drawn to the rose gold variant.

One of the most striking features of both variations is the way that all the bridges, the tourbillon and the power reserve indicator are placed atop the dial. It gives the illusion that all the components are floating on top of the dial, which was actually carved out of a slab of slate. The gear trains and hands also seem to be floating statically on the dial, and to be quite honest with you as far as visuals go, this could be one of 2018’s most striking (and most interesting).

The inverted nature of the dial basically renders the open sapphire caseback somewhat pointless. This is also with thanks to the sapphire glass box which houses these floating elements and gives the wearer a full -frontal view of the exceptional and brand new Ulysse Nardin manufacture movement, the UN-176. The flying tourbillon utilises the Ulysse Anchor Escapement, which replaces the traditional Swiss lever escapement system with Ulysse Nardin’s low-friction silicium, as opposed to the use of metal or synthetic rubies.

I can’t really fathom Ulysse Nardin releasing a watch that will have as much character, as much pizazz and be as cool as the Executive Tourbillon Free Wheel is. But I’ve been wrong before, and I keep my fingers crossed that I’m wrong this time, too. In other words, I can’t freaking wait to see what comes out of the Ulysse Nardin atelier next!

The Ulysse Nardin Executive Tourbillon Free Wheel is not, in fact, a limited edition, and will be available in a full-run production once launched. The rose gold version has a cost of $96,000USD, while the white gold variant will be slightly more expensive at $98,000USD (which converts to approximately $130,000AUD and $135,000AUD, respectively).


Movement: 5/5

Aesthetics: 5/5

Wearability: 3/5

Affordability: 1/5


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