The Executive Tourbillon Free Wheel is a true tour de force in mechanical watchmaking, and it is Ulysse Nardin’s most refined and audacious timepiece. Now, four exciting new materials have been used on its dial and barrel cover.
The first material is osmium, which is the world’s heaviest metal and also the rarest, densest and most stable element. It is a trace element found in alloys mostly in the platinum group, and used when extreme hardness is required. This version of the Free Wheel has a white gold case which frames the diamond-like osmium crystals. The next is aventurine, a form of translucent quartz. The name derives from the Italian a ventura, which can mean “by chance” or simply “let the adventure begin”. The deep blue dial is reminiscent of a starry night sky. Also used in the Ulysse Nardin men’s Blue Aventurine Genghis Khan 789-80, this mineral’s aventurescence provides a shimmering effect often seen by sailors contemplating the ocean’s surface in the dark of night.
The third is straw marquetry, a 17thcentury technique once practised by nuns in convents. Lightweight straw means there is no issue of pressure on the dial and barrel cover. The face design uses shiny, black-dyed straw – every stalk cut and prepared by specialized artisans – adding a sleek, masculine veneer to the dial. The technique is resistant to the effects of time and capable of catching light to create a stunning visual effect.
The final material is carbonium, which is composed of aeronautical-grade carbon fibres, and which is approximately twice as light as aluminium. The carbon and pre-pregnated resin composite is made with ecologically-sourced components, making a markedly smaller impact on the environment than any conventional carbon composite. The resulting gold-veined effect is bold and elegant. All these watches are issued in limited editions of 18 pieces each.