14 years ago, Ulysse Nardin launched a watch that was, at that time, a proper blast, an ultra-innovative timepiece, both for its technology and its design. The Ulysse Nardin Freak was and still is unique in many ways and even after all these years, it remains a watch extremely bold and recognizable among every other. This year, at Baselworld 2015, UN came up with the newest version of this groundbreaking watch, the FreakLab, cased in white gold. The first evolution of this model is now on the rails, with a black titanium case and a carbon fiber bezel. Here is the Ulysse Nardin FreakLab Boutique Edition.
The Ulysse Nardin Freak shouldn’t be regarded for its design only. Of course, its specific shape and the integration of the balance wheel and of the gear train on the top of the dial was clearly unusual, back in 2001. The design of the Freak was made to be shocking (and in the good way), just to enlighten the real innovation, that was on the mechanical side. As some of you may know (but unfortunately, not all the watch-lovers), Ulysse Nardin has an impressive R&D presence and the ability to innovate, to use unknown techniques and to really implement them into working retail watches. Last year, they introduced a new Anchor Escapement (into a showcase watch) that is now implemented into a commercialized watch, the Ulysse Nardin Anchor Tourbillon – and this is true innovation, a brand new type of escapement… Back on the Freak! The Ulysse Nardin Freak was as innovative at that time as the recent Anchor Tourbillon is now. In 2001, it was the very first watch to incorporate an escapement made of silicon. Even if this new material had been vastly discussed, it is now widely used (even by large producers like Omega or Rolex) and UN proved to the industry that they were right to incorporate such a material.
The Ulysse Nardin FreakLab was introduced this year, at Baselworld 2015, as a modernized edition, both on the visual and mechanical sides. As you can see in our first hands-on, it is more of an update than a complete novelty (check the comparative photos between the old and new editions): same overall design – meaning no crown, no hands, no dial, that same horological module on the top to indicate time – but the new one comes however with some technical updates. The top module – that is in fact a large part of the movement that comprises the gear train, the balance wheel, the balance-spring unit and the Dual Ulysse silicium escapement – still indicates the minutes (and thus rotates on its own axis once per an hour, creating a 1-hour tourbillon) but has been redesigned. It is now more compact to have the balance-wheel and balance-spring at the center of the movement. The Ulysse Nardin FreakLab comes with a very unique escapement called Dual Ulysse silicium escapement that gets rid off the traditional pallet fork and escape wheel. Two silicium impulse wheels, each with eighteen active, meshing teeth, alternately activate a stopper which transmits its energy directly to the balance staff, first in one direction, then in the other. This mechanism requires no lubrication and always delivers its force in the direction of the rotation of the balance wheel, minimizing friction. The latest updates are: the integration of the date and a new anti-shock device that protect the balance wheel – the UlyChoc.
With the new Boutique Edition, the FreakLab now dresses in black. The 45mm case now features a central part and lugs made of blackened titanium. The rotating bezel (that is used to set the hours and minutes when rotated clockwise, and the date when rotated counter-clockwise) is now made of carbon fiber, with a classical squared pattern. Finally, this Ulysse Nardin FreakLab Boutique Edition is complemented by a black leather strap with a carbon fiber motif.
This black titanium / carbon fiber edition of the Ulysse Nardin FreakLab is exclusively available at Ulysse Nardin boutiques. It is a limited edition of 99 pieces. Price: $75,000. www.ulysse-nardin.com.
Stay tuned, cause soon we’ll have a complete review of the Ulysse Nardin FreakLab online on Monochrome-Watches.
- Movement – Caliber UN-210 – Movement indicates the time and the date – 1 Hour Tourbillon – UlyChoc security system on regulating organ
- Power Reserve – 7 days
- Frequency – 4Hz (28,800 v/h)
- Hairspring – Silicium, exclusive Ulysse Nardin design
- Escapement – Exclusive Dual Ulysse escapement in silicium, non-lubricated
- Orbite – 1 revolution in one hour
- Winding – Manual winding over the back of the case. 1 full rotation is equivalent to 12 hours of power reserve
- Functions – H/M displayed by the rotation of the movement + Date
- Case – Blackened titanium, bezel in carbon fiber – 45 mm
- Strap – Black leather with carbon fiber motif