Geneva Watch Days 2023: Ulysse Nardin’s Blast Free Wheel Marquetry harnesses the power of silicon

A new take on silicon.

Ulysse Nardin’s latest, unveiled at Geneva Watch Days, is the interesting and innovative Blast Free Wheel Marquetry.

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

This sculptural timepiece showcases silicon, the brand’s signature technological innovation, in a surprising way, seamlessly blending technical prowess with artistic expression. The Blast Free Wheel Marquetry pays homage to the iconic Freak timepiece that introduced silicon components back in 2001, and even though this watch is not a freak, it shares its spirit.

The watch is driven by the UN-176 Manufacture calibre, which defies conventional watchmaking principles. The movement, entirely developed by Ulysse Nardin, required two years of intensive research and development. In signature Free Wheel style, this movement boldly exposes its intricate mechanisms, including wheels, tourbillon, barrel, and an indicator for the seven-day power reserve. The flying tourbillon, at six, is made up of 45 components and incorporates the Ulysse Anchor Constant Escapement, which eliminates the need for traditional anchor pivots and ensures a consistent impulse on the balance wheel. All these elements appear to hover over a captivating mosaic-like arrangement without any visible attachments, conjuring an illusion of weightlessness.

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

The silicon dial of the Ulysse Nardin Blast Free Wheel Marquetry

While the movement is certainly impressive, its it’s the mosaic itself that that’s the star of the show.

The Blast Free Wheel Marquetry showcases a masterful display of the traditional craft, with 103 blue marquetry slivers adorning the dial. These meticulously assembled silicon plates create a captivating interplay of surfaces, resulting in a three-dimensional effect. The intricate process of assembling these delicate elements requires extraordinary skill to avoid damage, as silicon is a famously fragile material to work with.

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

The 45mm Blast case is in white gold and, like the dial, features an unconventional geometric design, with negative angle facets that give the case a distinctive aesthetic appeal that complements the marquetry motif. To round the silicon story out, Ulysse Nardin’sNardin’s commitment to the material is evident even on the case back, adorned with a blue silicon plate, demonstrating meticulous attention to detail.

Ulysse Nardin isn’t afraid of making bold statements, and the silicon dial and novel architecture of the Blast Free Wheel Marquetry by Ulysse Nardin embodies the brand’s commitment to innovation and creativity. By seamlessly integrating silicon technology into an artistic masterpiece, Ulysse Nardin challenges notions of what this material — typically used only in technical components, is capable of.

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

Tech Specs

Ulysse Nardin Blast Free Wheel Marquetry

Movement: UN-176 Manufacture manual movement, manual wind, 7 days of power reserve
Functions: Flying Tourbillon with Ulysse Anchor Constant Escapement Escapement wheel, anchor & balance spring in silicon, hours, minutes power reserve indicator
Dial: Blue silicon marquetry dial
Case: 45mm, white gold with open case back featuring silicon plate, water-resistant to 30M
Strap: Blue velvet effect rubber strap or blue alligator leather strap with white gold deployant buckle
Price: CHF 130,000

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