The Truly Spectacular and Uber-Complex Ulysse Nardin Freak S
An astonishing, space-inspired Freak with UFO-like twin oscillators
The launch of the Ulysse Nardin Freak in 2001 shook up the watch world. This disruptive avant-garde masterpiece smashed all conventions and pioneered the use of silicon in this industry… Over the past 20 years, the model evolved in many directions. But this horological UFO has always followed the same guiding principle of being a laboratory on the wrist. Presented on the occasion of Watches and Wonders 2022, the Ulysse Nardin Freak S is very much a Freak offspring. Yet, it further propels the model into tri-dimensional space-age watchmaking, with its starship design and two out-of-this-world inclined oscillators reminding of turboprops.
Over the past 20 years, the Freak has been an extraordinary laboratory for experimentation and innovation at Ulysse Nardin, leading to countless developments. Several of Ulysse Nardin’s innovative escapements and oscillators were born inside the Freak, like the crazy InnoVision 2… Presented on the occasion of Watches and Wonders 2022, the new Freak S integrates not one but two regulators – and many more technical wizardries to be explored!
Indeed, the automatic Calibre UN-251 features two oscillators inclined at 20° and positioned on distinct planes. These are integrated into the Freak signature carousel movement and held in place by gold bridges. A spectacular differential mechanism (on full display) is used to average their respective rates. Thanks to this sophisticated gearing, the regulators compensate for each other’s errors.
The two large silicon balance wheels run at 2.5Hz (or 18,000 vibrations/hour) and the movement power reserve is of 72 hours. The automatic winding is ensured by the brand’s grinder technology, first seen in the InnoVision 2 concept watch. The luminescent pointer rotating at the periphery of the dial indicates the hours. Making a complete turn on itself in one-hour, the rocket bearing the balance wheels indicates the minutes with its nose. On the opposite, the differential mechanism engages with the fixed ring gear at the periphery of the movement to drive the rotation.
Set for cosmic travel
As always, the unique mechanism of the Freak comes with bold and distinctive styling. If the design filiation is evident with the Freak S, the watch seems ready for cosmic travel. The movement’s centre part is shaped like a spaceship with its twin silicon balance wheels giving the impression of turboprops. The movement’s decorative plate is made of aventurine to create a starry sky background.
The Ulysse Nardin Freak S also features a new case. The brand mentions that it was inspired by the 2001 design. As such, it doesn’t come with a traditional crown. The bezel is used to set the time. The back is used for winding. At 45mm in diameter, its complex architecture combines different materials including ceramic, titanium and gold. Turn the watch over, the exhibition back allows discovering the Grinder automatic winding mechanism. The water-resistance is rated 30 metres.
Back in 2001, the Freak pioneered the use of silicon in watchmaking. The brand’s research in the innovative use of new technologies and materials opened up amazing possibilities. In 2006, together with Mimotec, Ulysse Nardin created Sigatec, a company that specialized in DRIE and LIGA technologies to manufacture parts. Two decades later, the Freak still makes use of the properties of this material for the large balance wheels and the escapement, in particular the DiamondSIL technology (silicon covered with synthetic diamond) first seen at Ulysse Nardin in 2007.
Availability & Price
The Ulysse Nardin Freak S is worn on a bi-material black alligator and golden calf strap with a black DLC-titanium folding clasp. Thanks to a new patented triple-folding system that operates in a synchronized fashion (SYNC), the clasp opens with a single click. The Ulysse Nardin Freak S is released in a limited edition of 75 pieces. Only 40 of these will be produced in 2022. The price is set at EUR 123,500.
For more information, please visit www.ulyssenardin.com.
The hefty price of this amazing watch is justified by the amount of advanced technology accumulated in its atypical caliber. An additional virtue is that they had the decency to dispense with the “INNOVATION 9 – EYE-CATCHING 1 – 11 AND 13 – 23 TIME DISPLAY” implemented in the previous InnoVision 2 concept watch. An innovation that does not belong to them, previously used in the economic Gruen Air Flight watch.