New Releases Watches

Ulysse Nardin Release Blast Free Wheel Marquetry with Silicon Dial

Ulysse Nardin Blast Free Wheel Marquetry

Earlier this year we had the opportunity to talk to Ludwig Oechslin about, among other things, the origins of the use of silicon in watchmaking. An innovation that he was at the spearhead of when working on the original Ulysse Nardin Freak. One of Ulysse Nardin’s subsequent collections, the Blast Free Wheel, was designed to pay tribute to the material’s importance by having a skeletonised display that put the technology front and centre. Now, Ulysse Nardin have launched a new, metiers d’art version of that watch called the Blast Free Wheel Marquetry.

Ulysse Nardin Blast Free Wheel Marquetry

Marquetry is traditionally a technique used in woodwork, a form of seamless tiling using thin slivers to create a mosaic-like pattern. You can see traditional marquetry on watches like the Louis Erard Excellence. However, Ulysse Nardin have put their own twist on the metiers d’art technique by moving away from wood and using silicon as their material of choice. This is a style they first introduced in 2019 with the Freak X and it’s nice to see it make its way to some of their less well known collections.

Ulysse Nardin Blast Free Wheel Marquetry

Ulysse Nardin Blast Free Wheel Marquetry

In terms of style, the silicon marquetry has a blue colourway with various shades and a combination of contrasting matte and mirror surfaces as well as two different thicknesses. It gives it a hyper modern appearance that reminds me of a high-tech circuit board. It’s a cool look emphasised by the futuristic design of the Blast Free Wheel with its 45mm white gold case with pronounced facets and sapphire crystal sides.

Ulysse Nardin Blast Free Wheel Marquetry
Ulysse Nardin Blast Free Wheel Marquetry

Getting into the display: at 12 o’clock you have the decorated barrel providing a 7-day power reserve, at 3 is the winding wheel, at 4 is the unique power reserve indicator, at 6 is the tourbillon. Along the lefthand portion of the dial are various wheels and gears and lastly in the centre are the hour and minute hands. A complex ode to haute horology. The movement is called the UN-176 Manufacture manual.

Ulysse Nardin Blast Free Wheel Marquetry

This is one of the coolest non-Freak Ulysse Nardin releases I’ve seen in a while. It looks cool, the movement is impressive and the case design is bonkers. What more could you want? As for the price tag, it sits at £120,670, so while I admire it, I have a dramatically higher chance of picking up a Freak.

Price & Specs:

  • Model: Ulysse Nardin Blast Free Wheel Marquetry
  • Ref: 1760-401-3A/3A
  • Case/dial: 45mm diameter, white gold satin-finished & polished case, blue matte and polished silicon Métiers d’art dial, grey hands with Superluminova®
  • Water resistance: 30m (3 bar)
  • Movement: Calibre UN-176, in-house, manual winding, 23 jewels, 249 parts, flying tourbillon with Ulysse Anchor Constant Escapement, escapement wheel, anchor & balance spring in silicon
  • Frequency: 18,000 vph (2.5 Hz)
  • Power reserve: 170h (7 days)
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, power reserve, flying tourbillon
  • Strap: Blue velvet-effect rubber with additional blue alligator leather strap, both with white gold buckle
  • Price/availability: £120,670

Leave a Comment

*

*

About the author

Michael Sonsino

As Digital Editor for Oracle Time, Michael needs an eye for detail, which makes it a good thing that his twin joys in life are miniatures and watches. He's a lifelong fan of fine timepieces, especially those of a more historic nature - if it has a twist of Art Deco, all the better. Recent purchase: Seiko Prospex 1959 Alpinist Modern Re-Interpretation. Grail watch: Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921.