Last week we asked ourselves the question, if the hybrid smart watch with its impressive 41 mega pixel camera, the Hyetis Crossbow, is the future of watchmaking. Well, some 12 years ago, in 2001, every watch connoisseur, watch lover, watch journalists and everyone else in the watch industry must have asked themselves the exact same question. Everyone was was either in shock or in total awe, because Ulysse Nardin introduced something that we hadn’t seen before and it was called the Freak.
This year Ulysse Nardin introduces two new versions of the Freak and today we’ll go hands-on with the limited edition Freak Phantom that features a flying tourbillon and a carroussel-like construction for the entire gear train including the tourbillon cage.
With the use of silicon, for the escape wheels, and groundbreaking technical solution for displaying the hours and minutes, the iconic Freak has become milestone in haute horology since 2001. The new limited edition Freak Phantom continues the evolution of this notorious family of watches. This version is limited to 99 pieces.
When you’ve never seen a Ulysse Nardin Freak, it might be good to get a close look first in order to understand how to read the time on it and how it works. There are no traditional hands, as you’ll see, but the entire gear train and escapement are visible on the dial side. And they even rotate around a central axis, in order to indicate the minutes. At one end of the gear train you’ll see the escapement, constructed within a tourbillon cage, and on the other end you’ll see what is the minute hand (a grey arrow shape). The hour hand is the grey ‘boomerang-shaped’ arrow that is painted on a black disk, which rotates once every twelve hours. Just to check if you fully understand it, on the photo below it’s almost 10 past 10.
The cage is equipped with an arrow indicating the seconds on a transparent half-circle, rotating in one minute on itself, with the zero position holding steady on the axis of the minute indicator. Two specially conceived ball bearing systems enable the “flying” function of the minute movement and of the seconds-indicator tourbillon without the need for a supporting bridge.
The Freak forever changed the course of haute horology. The Freak Phantom pays tribute to the revolutionary Freak by expanding its use of silicon and taking its tourbillon to new heights. It is a bold and masculine timepiece and an intriguing avant-garde ‘talking-piece’ at the same time.
The Freak Phantom uses silicon (silicium) in its patented hairspring (Si 1.1.1.) and throughout the majority of its escapement. The entire movement of the Freak Phantom, including the oscillator, is produced in-house and offers a lengthy power reserve of more than eight days.
Another remarkable feat of the Freak – besides that there are no traditional dial and hands and it is the first timepiece to successfully present escapement wheels constructed of silicon – is that there isn’t any crown. There are however two rotatable bezels and these enable the wearer to wind the watch (by turning the lower bezel) and to adjust the time indications (by turning the upper bezel).
Freak Phantom Limited Edition of 99 pieces in 18 carat rose gold
- Movement:caliber UN-208 – 8-day Carrousel-Tourbillon – small seconds on flying tourbillon 60 Seconds
- Power Reserve: more than 8 days, slip-spring
- Frequency: 4Hz (28’800 v/h)
- Moment of inertia: 8 mg*cm2, adjusting over 4 screws
- Hairspring: Silicium 1.1.1., exclusive Ulysse Nardin design
- Escapement: Silicium, non lubrificated
- Tourbillon: 1 revolution in 1minute
- 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, small seconds on flying tourbillon
- Time setting: unlock device and turn bezel 18-karat rose gold
- Case Diameter: 45 millimeter
More information about the Freak collection and availability through the Ulysse Nardin website.