Ulysse Nardin Freak S

by Chamath Gamage
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Arguably one of the coolest and most daring timepieces released during this year’s Watches & Wonders has to be the latest unveiling from Ulysse Nardin. A new “high-tech watchmaking masterpiece” as the brand calls it, is sending the Ulysse Nardin Freak collection into a new orbit. With a rocket on the wrist, Ulysse Nardin presents to the world the new Freak S. 

The brand took inspiration for these timepieces from the cosmos and space travel. Upon first glance at this new model, what you’ll see on the dial is a rocket with its twin reactors on either side. This design symbolises the height of creative design and contemporary luxury. The original Freak model certainly set the standard for avant-garde watchmaking design when it was released. New York Times called it “the Freak is one of the ten watches that have revolutionized watchmaking over the course of the last twenty years”.

The release of the original Freak model back in 2001 was a historical milestone for Ulysse Nardin, as it was one of the most innovative timepieces of its time. The Freak model stood for pushing the boundaries, thinking outside the box, and breaking the limits of what’s possible. It was a mechanical artwork of the highest calibre that you can wear on your wrist. Jean-Christophe Sabatier, Product director at Ulysse Nardin shares this sentiment as he states “the time is indicated by a carousel movement. It’s a unique concept quite unlike anything you can find on the market. The product is so bold that no one dares to copy it. Truly revolutionary, it is a celebration of new technologies.”

Rolf Schynder back in 2001 felt the same upon the release of the Freak by saying that “nearly 30 years ago, I acquired Ulysse Nardin. It was a calculated risk in that I was convinced that mechanical watches so unique and innovative could gain a foothold in the market, and apparently, I was right. The Freak embodies this historical breakthrough achieved by Ulysse Nardin and by the watchmaking industry in general, and is by far our flagship model”.

Now, Ulysse Nardin is once again upping the ante, with the release of the Freak S, a world-first with an automatic double oscillator and a differential. In fact, the Freak S comes with four innovations; an inclined double oscillator using DiamonSil technology, a vertical differential, a “Grinder” automatic winding system, and a new case that has been inspired by the original Freak of 2001, that has the case is made from a combination of materials such as ceramic, gold and titanium. 

Design:

The Ulysse Nardin Freak S comes in 45mm and is made up of black ceramic, titanium with black DLC and 5N rose gold. The bezel is made from 5N rose gold. The time can be set from the front bezel and manual winding of the movement can be done from the back part of the bezel. All these different components give the bezel some height over the dial and give the dial a much more 3D effect. 

As mentioned earlier, one of Ulysse Nardin’s inventions in this piece is the double oscillator. This mechanism can be found on either side of the rocket. The main signature of the Un-251 Manufacture movement, the double oscillators are positioned on distant planes on two launching pads. The two XXL silicium balance wheels are linked together by a differential, which uses the average rate of energy provided by them. 

The two large balance wheels with inertia blocks are also assembled at 20-degree angles from each other, and are held together by two rose gold bridges in the shape of the rocket’s wings. 

Ulysse Nardin states that “besides giving the watch a remarkable spaceship look, the inclined double oscillator and its differential constitute a technological marvel enabling improved regulation of the movement’s running rate”. The differential is there to evenly distribute the barrel’s energy drawn from the two separate balance wheels and then supply it to the two regulating organs. The two oscillators on the Freak S model don’t move at the same speed, therefore the differential helps to mutually compensate for this. This is much needed as the rocket spins beautifully around the dial, a true innovation from the watch manufacturer. 

The main dial plate behind the rocket has a subtle decoration that shows the cosmos the rocket is flying through. The deep black mineral decorative plate made from aventurine has sparkling golden particles, which gives it the starry night sky look. 

Movement:

The movement running this complex timepiece is Ulysse Nardin’s UN-251 Caliber. The movement powers only the carousel of the rocket as there are no hands shown. There is no crown for this timepiece either, as mentioned earlier, the time adjustments are made through the bezel. The UN-251 Caliber movement is an engineering marvel for the watch industry. 

Traditional tourbillons have balance wheels that make one rotation per minute within their cage. The Freak S with its whole movement including the regulating organ makes a complete turn on itself in one hour. Through this autonomy, the movement can put out a frequency of 2 x 2.5hz (2.5hz for each balance wheel) which equates to 2×18000 VpH. The movement gives out a power reserve of approximately 72 hours. 

To match the case and dial, the Ulysse Nardin Freak S comes with a bi-material black alligator & golden calf strap. A standard black alligator strap is on offer as well. 

With the Ulysse Nardin Freak S being limited to only 75 pieces (only 40 will be made in 2022), it’s hard to imagine this timepiece being on the market for too long upon its release. A truly mesmerising timepiece by a brand known to create mind-boggling watches, the Freak S is pushing the boundaries of not only how we tell time, but also in the beauty of how we see it. 

Reference: 2513-500LE-2A-BLACK-5N/1A

Specification:

  • Case: 45 mm
  • Case Black ceramic, titanium with black DLC, 5N rose gold
  • Dial: Decorative movement plate in black aventurine
  • Crystal: Sapphire domed box with anti-reflective treatment on both sides
  • Water resistance: 30 meters
  • Movement: UN-251 Caliber
  • Power reserve: 72 Hours
  • Strap: Bi-material black alligator & golden calf strap or black alligator strap

Australian Recommended Retail Price: $192,000.00 AUD

Availability: Limited Edition to 75 pieces worldwide. Available now.

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