Ulysse Nardin – Invention of the free-turning watch

You may have heard of flying tourbillons. Ulysse Nardin created the flying gear train. The Executive Tourbillon Free Wheel flaunts all its inner workings, not because it is skeletonized or has no dial, but because they are mounted on top of the dial. It looks like the main plate of the movement, but it is really a dial in a decorative sense. So how do these wheels turn?

It’s a familiar and interesting sight. You can identify the individual components of the movement, but nothing seems right in this 44m gold watch. However, there is nothing to hide the components either: the movement looks like it was designed without the upper bridge. This is the definition of a “flying” component, the most famous example being the flying tourbillon. In fact, the tourbillon on the Executive Tourbillon Free Wheel is also of this type.

To keep things mysterious, there’s a full plate on the back of the movement, which means there’s hardly anything to see apart from a few jewels and screws. The magic happens inside the sandwich formed by a plate on one side and an opaque dial on the other. Best quality watches

In a classic watch movement, the wheels mesh with each other. The connection between these elements is so ordinary that we don’t even bother to look at it. It is easier to overlook when the gear train (that is, the series of wheels from the barrel to the escapement is called) is usually enclosed in the movement and thus invisible.

In the Executive Tourbillon Free Wheel, the opposite is true. The watch gives the impression that it does not have any bridges. This is a double illusion. First of all, its internal structure has a perfect standard bridge. They are hidden under the dial and are therefore invisible. They fixed the wheel that appeared to be absent on the side of the dial but was actually necessary for the illusion to work.

Second, the structure of the movement is such that several of the visible wheels actually have a bridge. Ulysse Nardin fake calls them boomerangs because of their shape, and they’re screwed into the dial. Still, some of these parts are still in “flying state”: the barrel, tourbillon and several parts of the winding system, near the crown, are not held in place from above.

That’s the real genius of this watch. The effect is the same whether its components are suspended or not. Everything seems to float above the dial. Crystals even accentuate the effect. In the form of a glass box, it is like an invisible bell covering the whole thing, encouraging you to observe the phenomenon from all angles, as if it had nothing to hide. The best thing about magic is when the magician invites the audience to the stage, or rolls up their sleeves. Illusions are always built on some kind of transparency that instills confidence and tricks our senses.