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A tourbillon appears to float free in Ulysse Nardin's new $96,000 watch

Jon Bues | Bloomberg/ 14 Sep 18 | 09:11 PM

The latest high-complication from Ulysse Nardin is a seven-day manually wound tourbillon that draws extensively on the use of silicon watch components. The Executive Tourbillon Free Wheel, which is available in rose and white gold variations, features a design in which several components of the of movement have been raised up above the surface of the dial. Priced upwards of $96,000, the unusual design is further highlighted by a large box crystal that causes each of these mechanisms — whether the power reserve indicator, the barrel, or the tourbillon itself — to appear to float in space. There are some subtle variations between the two gold versions: the white gold Executive Tourbillon Free Wheel has a honeycomb dial while the rose gold version has a dial made from a piece of black slate. 

It bears noting that even beyond having silicon components, this is still not your everyday tourbillon. Vibrating inside that turning tourbillon cage is Ulysse Nardin’s in-house Anchor Escapement, a mechanism that relies on the low friction and flexible properties of silicon blades.

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Do you ever get a sense when looking at watch, or anything else for that matter, that you’re observing something that possibly no one else is seeing? I had this feeling pretty much instantly upon opening the press release for this watch and taking in the dial layout. To me, it was instantly reminiscent of Ulysse Nardin’s chiming Jacquemarts watches. The gold or white metal figures, set against a black dial, floating in space, brought these watches back somehow. They are completely different timepieces that do very different things, but they have similar proportions and a similar feeling.

Beyond that noted similarity, I think this is an attractive watch that manages to look the Ulysse Nardin part despite the absence of conspicuous branding (also like the Jacquemarts). Its 44mm size is going to be a dealbreaker for lots of readers, but I have a strong feeling that the kind of watch collector who tends to go for an openworked timepiece with various functions appearing to float in isolation isn’t exactly the kind of guy who shuns oversized watches out of hand.

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