Ulysse Nardin has long been a master at technical prowess in watchmaking. This 175-year-old brand specializes in highly complicated watches, marine chronometers and high-tech masterpieces that will blow your mind. Now, though, the brand brings scintillating diamond work to the forefront, as well, with the release of just eight pieces of the Sparkling Free Wheel watch.
The $225,000 timepiece is paved with 2,251 diamonds that are meticulously snow set on the dial, case, case sides and lugs for a shimmering creation that arrests the eyes. Part of the brand’s Executive collection, the Sparkling Free Wheel takes more than 120 hours to set. The master gem setters at Art Setting in Geneva spend weeks meticulously working the metal and setting the differently sized diamonds on to the case and dial for Ulysse Nardin. It is no easy feat, as the diamonds must be perfectly placed to let no metal show through and to allow the different sizes of the stones to offer their full sparkle. The overall effect is designed to emulate a fresh snowfall.
In total, the diamonds weight 5.90 carats and are of excellent clarity, ranging from VVS (very very slightly included) to VS (very slightly included) in clarity with an F/G rating for brilliance, purity and color. According to the GIA Institute, VVS and VS diamonds follow in clarity only behind Flawless and Internally Flawless diamonds. As part of the Kering Group, Ulysse Nardin adheres to the Kimberly Process to ensure the diamonds are ethically sourced.
Watchmaking Prowess Joins The Sparkle
Against the diamond-set gray gold dial as a backdrop, movement parts reign supreme on the dial, with a constantly moving tourbillon escapement at 6:00 and a host of wheels and bridges that comprise the gear train working in harmony. The tourbillon bridges, as well as the bridges on the seven-day power indicator at 4:00, are boomerang shaped and appear to be floating in air. Powered by the UN-176 movement, that was developed entirely in house, the Ulysse Anchor Escapement, visible on the flying tourbillon, replaces the traditional Swiss lever escapement. It also utilizes silicium instead of rubies to reduce friction, wear and tear.
The entire dial is ensconced in a box-style sapphire crystal that is also incredibly difficult to machine. The material, while super hard when finished, is brittle and can break during the machining process. The watch boasts a sapphire case back, as well. In total, it represents a stunning balance of brains and beauty.
Technical Specs of the Ulysse Nardin Sparkling Free Wheel
Movement: Caliber UN-176 Manufacture Movement with silicium technology and manual winding.
Functions: Ulysse Nardin flying Anchor tourbillon with constant escapement, power reserve of 7 days, indicated at 4:00.
Dial: Diamond snow-set with flying components
Case: 44mm white gold
Crystals: Box-domed sapphire crystal and sapphire crystal case back.
Water Resistant: 30 meters
Limited edition: 8 pieces