The revolutionary Freak timepiece released by Ulysse Nardin two decades ago is still challenging the way fine watchmaking is done.
When the first Freak was introduced in 2001, it changed the way we saw watchmaking forever. A timepiece with no dial, no hands and no crown, it was certainly a paradigm shift in Swiss fine watchmaking. Now, two decades after the first Freak model from Ulysse Nardin appeared, the timepiece is still a cornerstone of high-end contemporary watchmaking. The creation of the first Freak model has led to subsequent iterations being made such as the Freak X and Freak ONE, all with the same concept of having no dial and no hands.
The Freak ONE, released earlier this year in 2023, has remained the centre point for the collection. It retains the core DNA that makes up the Freak collection, and embodies the independent, free-spirited thinking that has always defined the Freak, and Ulysse Nardin. A watch that has No dial. No hands. No crown. Now, the Freak ONE comes with a fresh new look, this time in military green.
At Dubai Watch Week, Ulysse Nardin continues the Freak’s story with the Freak ONE OPS – as in “operations”, a khaki and black watch that convey an adventurous inspiration. As before, it’s backed by cutting-edge technology developed in Ulysse Nardin’s independent integrated manufacture, only now with a casual look. The Freak ONE is the great reset to the Freak line. The Freak ONE was the Freak as it would have been designed and produced in the here and now. So the same principles of no dial, no hands and no crown remained, only wrapped in a black-DLC-coated titanium.ULYSSE NARDIN
The 44mm model comes in a black DLC titanium case, with a specially crafted Carbonium® bezel. Carbonium® is an innovative material that brings with it exceptional strength-to-lightness properties that’s produced using the same carbon fibres found in state-of-the-art aircraft wings and fuselages.
Carbonium® is made using offcuts from the aircraft manufacturing process, reducing its environmental impact by 40 per cent compared to other carbon composites. The manufacturing technique is organic, meaning the marbled finish found in the Freak ONE OPS’s bezel is unique to each watch.ULYSSE NARDIN
The black DLC titanium case and Carbonium® bezel is complemented nicely with the military style camouflage treatment of khaki green on the dial and watch strap. The barrel cover on the dial also comes with a special sunray-pattern. Against the khaki green, the dial details stand out nicely with beige colour being used for hour indices 3, 6, 9 and 12 o’clock. The hour and minute indications are also highlighted by pointers, filled with beige colours Super-lumiNova.
The design of the Freak One has remained unchanged, with the main focus of the orbital carousel tourbillon retained. This tourbillon “hand” acts as the minute hand. The operation of it can be seen clearer with the green khaki background, with the gear track running around the edge of the dial, guiding the minute hand through it’s 60-minute course.
One of the technical feats of this timepiece is that the movement is clearly shown on the dial surface. Compressed into the “minute hand”, the UN-240 calibre movement has a flying carousel with its silicon balance wheel and escapement, which is suspended by a bridge; a second bridge then serves as the hour hand, which is hidden underneath the dial, with only the hour “pointer” on the bridge shown on dial surface.
The UN-240 calibre movement operates at a frequency of 21,600 VpH (3hz), and is able to put out a power reserve of 90 hours. Look, on the case back, and what you’ll find is Ulysse Nardin’s proprietary Grinder winding rotor system, which has been designed for ultra-fast bidirectional winding. Unlike traditional open case back’s, this is the only point of focus on the Freak ONE, and rightly so as most of the movement is shown on the dial side to be seen directly by the wearer.
The Ulysse Nardin Freak ONE comes with military inspired intergrated Khaki and black “ballistic” rubber strap or a secondary two-tone rubber strap, also in black and khaki colours. The straps reflect Ulysse Nardin’s commitment to environmental protection, with the straps being made using 30 per cent recycled rubber from production waste.
This update to the Freak ONE since its release earlier this year is a muscular statement to an already daring timepiece. The Freak One is a result of more than two decades of Freak history, which means this timepiece is most up to date in terms of materials, reliability and design. Now, the Freak ONE Ops combines this technical innovation, aesthetic design and now military colour scheme to give the feeling of secret military style [black ops] timepiece. Regardless of personal tastes in owning one, when first seeing this piece, you have to admit it’s one a cool watch.
- Case: 44 mm and thickness 12 mm
- Case Material: DLC-coated titanium with a Carbonium® bezel
- Dial: Khaki green
- Crystal: Sapphire crystal with antireflective coating
- Water resistance: 30 meters / 3 ATM
- Movement: Automatic UN-240 calibre with Grinder winding system and DIAMonSIL escapement treatment.
- Movement Frequency: 3 Hz / 21, 600 VpH
- Movement Power reserve: 90 hours
- Bracelet/Strap: Black and khaki “ballistic” rubber, and an alternate two-tone rubber strap in black and khaki as well. Both have black DLC titanium and black ceramic folding clasps.