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Introducing: Ulysse Nardin Sparkling Free Wheel

Ulysse Nardin Sparkling Free Wheel

When Ulysse Nardin isn’t creating cool, under-the-radar divers, they’re going over the top with pieces like their horologically intense Free Wheel Tourbillon, an insane complication first revealed back in 2018.

With the various moving parts separated from the movement proper by the dial, you might find it hard to think of a way to make it any more visually impressive. Well, the Sparkling Free Wheel would like a word.

Ulysse Nardin Sparkling Free Wheel

The creative team behind the Sparkling Free Wheel had no pretence to subtlety here and their answer to the question ‘when do you have enough diamonds’ was consistently ‘not yet’. 2’251 pavé stones have been encrusted across dial, lugs and crown, outlining the entire 44mm case in the beautiful, deceptively random patterns of a snow-setting.

The only parts that aren’t paved with precious stones are the bezel, movement components and the shoulders to the case and the crown. Otherwise, it’s a veritable wall of light. With so many stones, it’s also good to know that all of the diamonds are ethically sourced.

Ulysse Nardin Sparkling Free Wheel

Honestly, I’ve never seen anything quite like this even from high jeweller creations from the likes of Hublot, Richard Mille et al. It’s a combination of haute horology and haute joaillerie that nobody asked for but I can’t help but adore the stones of, metaphorically and literally.

The box sapphire designed to provide plenty of room for the Free Wheel’s signature flying components – including the Ulysse Anchor Escapement tourbillon – doubles up to let plenty of light hit the diamond-laced dial.

Ulysse Nardin Sparkling Free Wheel

Finished on an alligator leather strap (I’m a little surprised they didn’t go all out for a fully set bracelet) this is very obviously a rarity, even for Ulysse Nardin. Only eight pieces will be built and each one will set you back CHF 225,000 – just over £175,000. God only knows what it’s like on the wrist. We’ll try out best to find out for you…

Price & Specs:

Model: Ulysse Nardin Sparkling Free Wheel
Ref: 1760-176BLE
Case/Dial: 44mm diameter x 17.45mm height, titanium case with 2,251 pavé stone dial
Water Resistance: 30m (3 bar)
Movement: In-house calibre UN-176, automatic 
Frequency: 18,000 vph (2.5 Hz)
Power Reserve: 7 days
Functions: Hours, minutes, Ulysse Nardin flying Anchor tourbillon with constant
escapement, power reserve indicator at 4 o’clock
Strap: Alligator leather
Price/Availability: CHF 225,000 limited to 8 pieces

More details at Ulysse Nardin.

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About the author

Sam Kessler

Legend has it that Sam’s first word was ‘escapement’ and, while he might have started that legend himself, he’s been in the watch world long enough that it makes little difference. As the editor of Oracle Time, he’s our leading man for all things horological – even if he does love yellow dials to a worrying degree. Owns a Pogue; doesn’t own an Oyster Perpetual. Yet.