Monochrome Watches
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First Look

The New Ulysse Nardin Freak S Nomad, Decked Out in Lightweight Titanium

The new look so befits the Freak S that it's hard to like any other Freak iteration.

| By Denis Peshkov | 3 min read |

At this year’s Geneva edition of Watches & Wonders, Ulysse Nardin is introducing a new version of its Freak S with aesthetic updates that make the ingenious, complex, unorthodox watch even more compelling. Introduced by Ulysse Nardin in 2001 under the visionary leadership of the late Rolf Schnyder, the original Freak sparked a wave of experimentation among independent watchmakers and laid a crucial foundation for the brand’s enduring legacy. The many subsequent releases have maintained the essence of the Freak, yet among this lineage, the Freak S, unveiled in 2022, emerges as a standout. Arguably the most compelling iteration since its early days, the Freak S embodies all the defining characteristics of its predecessors while introducing impressive new elements. Its design reflects a cosmically up-to-date sensibility, exemplified by the striking new Freak S Nomad edition.

The new Ulysse Nardin Freak S Nomad debuts in a titanium case with an anthracite PVD-coated titanium bezel and display caseback, measuring 45mm in diameter and 16.65mm in thickness. Carbon fibre side plates accentuate its high-tech nature. Protected by sapphire crystal, the sand-coloured, hand-turned guilloché hour disc with a diamond pattern draws attention yet immediately redirects it to the flying carousel movement with two large inclined oscillators with silicon balance wheels connected by a sophisticated differential mechanism.

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The carousel rotates around its axis and looks like a spaceship, no less, completing one rotation every hour. It also doubles as the minute hand, while the disc beneath it completes a rotation every twelve hours and indicates the hour. Despite its seemingly straightforward operation, the underlying technology is anything but simple, and the in-house UN-251 calibre is a technical marvel. The barrel boasts an impressive 72-hour power reserve and is substantial in diameter, almost matching the case. The barrel cover, crowned with a guilloché hour disc featuring a fixed hour pointer treated generously with Super-LumiNova, undergoes a full rotation every 12 hours as the barrel unwinds, causing the hour pointer to align with the indices.

The “spacecraft” carousel sits atop the guilloché hour disc, accompanied by gears beneath. These gears enable the carousel to rotate 12 times faster than the barrel cover, facilitating minute indication. A lume-treated inlay, affixed to a perforated jet-shaped panel, serves as a minutes hand. A small pinion at the opposite end of the carousel connects it to a fixed ring gear located on the dial’s periphery. As the carousel rotates, the fixed ring gear engages the pinion, transmitting energy to the gear train and twin oscillators through the differential’s intricate mechanism.

The barrel and carousel’s synchronized rotation hinges on the escapement, a vital component ensuring the steady release of energy from the mainspring, akin to conventional watches. As expected, the Freak S escapement, along with the hairsprings and balance wheels, is crafted from silicon. The innovative design incorporates two inclined balance wheels connected by a differential. This arrangement connects two sets of gears and harmonizes the beat rate of each balance wheel, effectively averaging errors to enhance overall accuracy.

Despite its complexity, Freak S is a user-friendly timepiece. The bezel, featuring a titanium locker marked Freak at 6 o’clock to prevent accidental adjustments, facilitates setting the time on the Freak S Nomad. The ring gear encircling the dial is affixed to the inner bezel, enabling rotation of the entire movement by turning it. For winding, the UN-251 calibre incorporates an efficient, in-house developed automatic winding system known as the “Grinder” mechanism with a peripheral rotor and quadruple winding pawls. Adhering to the Freak tradition, manual winding is performed by simply rotating the back of the watch.

Ulysse Nardin offers the Freak S Nomad with two distinctive strap options: a grey rubber “ballistic” textured strap or a matte grey “openworked” alligator leather strap with sand-coloured calfskin leather inserts. Both straps are secured with a titanium deployant clasp for added convenience. Limited to just 99 pieces, the Freak S Nomad is priced at CHF 140,600, EUR 150,000, or GBP 130,510 (VAT included), while in the US market, it is priced at USD 148,300 (VAT excluded).

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