Ulysse Nardin Freak Out – The UN Freak Concept More Affordable Than Ever
The legendary UN Freak reaches out to a wider audience.
It all started in the early 1980s with the encounter of Rolf W. Schnyder, a visionary businessman and Ludwig Oeschlin, a brilliant horologist. The two men turned Ulysse Nardin, a century-old manufacturer, into one of the most innovative watch brands around. The most striking development brought to life by the duo is, without a doubt, the Freak (2001). This legendary timepiece was powered by a revolutionary in-line movement pivoting on itself to indicate the time. It was regulated by the cutting-edge ‘dual direct escapement’. With the Freak, Ulysse Nardin not only became a pioneer of silicon (as such it is a true game-changer in the watch industry) but developed a concept like no other regarding design, display and technology.
Ulysse Nardin has developed multiple variations of the concept (for example; Freak Phantom, FreakLab and the 2018 Freak Vision Automatic) but, even after 17 years, the Freak still retains its bold, innovative and radical character. The idea behind the all-new Freak Out is to make this legendary timepiece accessible to a wider audience – relatively speaking – and to create an entire collection with the launch of four new timepieces.
The Ulysse Nardin Freak Out is powered by the hand-wound UN-205 calibre (previously seen in the Freak Blue Cruiser) and features the distinctive Freak baguette design, with the minute hand bearing the wheel train. Its pair of silicon impulse wheels working in relation with the flying carrousel stands out with their unusual, purple-green changing colours.
The round case of the Ulysse Nardin Freak Out is in ultralight titanium. It is 45mm in diameter but wears smaller. Its design is inspired by that of the Innovision 2 Concept watch presented at SIHH 2017. Among the things that will catch your eye, is the lack of a crown. A small lock at 6 o’clock releases the rotating bezel allowing for the simple and precise adjustment of the hours and minutes when turned in either direction. A side plate is engraved with the individual number of the watch.
Turning the watch over, the case back bezel lets you wind the movement. An aperture in the movement’s back reveals the oversized barrel capable of storing up to seven days of power reserve. It can even be used as a way to figure out if your watch is wound or not. The more contracted and the closer to the centre the spring is, the more it is wound.
The Ulysse Nardin Freak Out is paired with a sailcloth strap secured with a titanium folding buckle. It is available in four different versions. The ‘Out of the Blue’ and ‘Blue Gold’ feature a blue decor for the flange and movement. The ‘Black Gold’ is a titanium version featuring a black movement with a gold gear train and gold colour stitches on the strap. Last, the ‘Full Black’ (we could not shoot it for this review) is a sleek black-on-black PVD titanium case and movement combination.
The price of the Freak Out is set at CHF 48,000. Compared to CHF 98,000 for a Freak Vision (with a platinum case housing the automatic calibre UN-250), this Freak Out is the most affordable version so far. For more information, please visit www.ulysse-nardin.com.
Rather than “more affordable than ever”, it might, perhaps, have been more accurate (though admitedlad somewhat less catchy) to have said “somewhat less unaffordable”.
I know in the rarified circles of the über collector and the watch journalist, CHF48,000 is a drop in the ocean, but for the vast majority of collectors and enthusiasts it is an unimaginably large amount to be spending on a watch.
Yes, the Freak is a great watch, but I cannot help thinking that UN are over-charging – and would make more money if they made the watch genuinely more affordable!