Watch clubs are certainly a growing phenomenon, with more and more local initiatives to encourage collecting. Clubs are a great way to generate passion and increase horological knowledge among their members. Among the many clubs that have popped up recently, one seems very active and even creates special watches for its members, the Qatar Watch Club – remember that special Tudor Pelagos earlier this year? The QWC has announced its third special edition watch, and the first done in collaboration with Ulysse Nardin. And this time, the Doha-based enthusiasts opted for a Freak X, one of the most striking watches the brand currently produces.
Introduced during the SIHH 2019, the Ulysse Nardin Freak X was a highly interesting take on a fascinating concept, the Freak. Born in 2001, this piece was one of the first horological concept watches to surface. With a design and display from outer space, it was also an innovative creation that commercially introduced silicium technology. For the following two decades, the brand worked hard on its concept watch, proposing more and more innovations and daring designs. In 2019, the Freak X took the beloved hands-free watch to new heights: a more wearable case, an automatic movement, more realistic solutions with a far more accessible price than before, yet still showcasing its flying carrousel baguette movement and its balance wheel that seems to have come from a 22nd-century spaceship.
The idea was to rethink the Freak concept, starting with a more classic automatic base movement and adapting the iconic display on top. However, the baguette-shaped flying carrousel rotating once per hour is still present, and a rotating disc still displays the hours on the lower level. To make it more accessible, UN removed some of the complex technologies, as there is no Ulysse Nardin anchor constant escapement, no grinder, no silicium gear train and there are fewer wheels. Also, the Ulysse Nardin Freak X now has a crown, instead of the rotating caseback to wind the movement and a rotating bezel to adjust the time. Yet, the dial-side reveals an oversized, ultra-technical balance wheel with complex architecture, made from silicium and set with nickel flyweights to stabilize the micro-blades – probably one of the most complex balances found in this price range.
As for the watch itself, the case was made smaller and more wearable, with a 43mm diameter, a more slender shape and a focus on comfort. Even the dial was simplified to offer more contrast and better legibility. Finally, the price was far lower than previous Freak watches, making it an almost attainable concept watch.
This is the watch that the Qatar Watch Club decided to use as a base for their third special edition. The Club went for a 43mm titanium case with black DLC coating and a matching dial base. What clearly sets this edition apart is the use of green accents all over the watch – a colour with strong symbolism in Middle Eastern countries. The indexes on the dial as well as the straps display this nice colour, that contrasts well with the black base. The carrousel for the minutes and the disc for the hours are white, for better readability.
This limited edition of the Freak X is delivered with two straps, one in black rubber with green stitchings and one in green alligator leather with white and green stitchings.
Availability & Price
The Ulysse Nardin Freak X Qatar Watch Club is a limited edition of 10 pieces, which will be available from retailer Ali Bin Ali Luxury. It is priced at USD 26,000.