Ulysse Nardin Unveils The Freak S Nomad With An Incredible New Dial

by Sameera Gamage

When the original Freak S was released, it was a breathtaking masterpiece. Now, Ulysse Nardin is back with a new Freak S that will drop your jaw all over again!

The latest in Ulysse Nardin’s Freak collection is the Freak S Nomad. While the model does not have major mechanical updates, the aesthetic advances in design are enough to make you want one. The original Freak model was released in 2001, representing a huge turning point in the world of horology.

When the Freak model was released, there was nothing like it on the watch market. Nor were brands overly experimenting with Haute Horology, bar a few. Now, in modern-day watchmaking, we are much more lucky in that we get to see more brands releasing extravagant timepieces that continue to push the boundaries of what we see as watchmaking. Creativity, innovation, imagination: Swiss watchmaking’s wild side is unleashed.

Ulysse Nardin Freak S Nomad – Full view.

The Freak whipped up a storm. Here was a watch that breathed new life into high-end watchmaking, without relying on the old tropes. Out with the smooth round yellow gold cases, enamel dials and tourbillons. In with a free-spirited watch with fresh aesthetics and avant-garde technology. The Freak told a new story:
No dial. No hands. No crown.

Ulysse Nardin on the release of the Freak (2001)
Ulysse Nardin Freak S Nomad – Detailed view of the stunning dial.

The latest head-turner of the Freak model was back in 2022 when the brand released the Freak S. It was one of the star pieces of that year’s Watches & Wonders (if you wish to read more about the timepiece, click here!). A spaceship on your wrist, it was deemed a “high-tech watchmaking masterpiece”. That’s putting it mildly, to be honest. The spaceship features two double oscillators that act as the turbines to move the spaceship. If you haven’t seen this timepiece already, this spaceship isn’t stationary. It revolves around the dial, indicating the time as it moves by. This is honestly one of the coolest things I’ve seen on a timepiece.

Ulysse Nardin Freak S Nomad – Close detail of oscillator on the spaceship.

But wait, it gets better. For Watches & Wonders 2024, Ulysse Nardin has updated the Freak S with a sand-coloured theme that reflects waving sand dunes. The Freak S Nomad is a 99-piece limited edition that retains the spaceship’s technical innovation while adding a new background for the spaceship with the diamond guilloché hour disc. The diamond guilloché pattern is finished in sand-coloured CVD, which leaves an incredible finish on the dial in the highest level of detail.

Ulysse Nardin Freak S Nomad – New hour guilloche disc in stunning detail.

Ulysse Nardin states that this dial was created “one piece at a time by a skilled artisan; the painstaking method behind it takes years to learn and perfect. It involves a rare 18th-century rose engine, turned entirely by hand, with no electronics and no laser guidance. Each dial is a beautiful sequence of intersecting curves, requiring 240 continuous movements over a three-hour period. Because the pattern is the result of one continuous movement, the guillocheur must not lift their hand or even flinch so as to ensure the seamlessness of the pattern. No comfort breaks. No time for coffee. It requires a freakish level of concentration, skill and patience.”

Ulysse Nardin Freak S Nomad – Placement of the spaceship on the guilloche hour disc.

So why do this by hand instead of by machine and equipment? Because of the beauty that lies in hand-craftsmanship. As technology advances, machines become smarter, faster and more detached, which gives them the ability to churn out more in less time, hence making them “mass-produced’. When watches or significant components of the watch become mass-produced, enthusiasts have a much less emotional appeal to it, and so the value of hand-craftsmanship becomes more eternal.

Ulysse Nardin Freak S Nomad – Placing the oscillator on the spaceship.

The Freak S Nomad also has quite a few material changes compared to the first 2022 release. Firstly, we get a 45mm case made from titanium for the main body, an anthracite PVD-coated titanium bezel, and carbon fibre flanks that also act as the timepieces’ lugs.

The Freak S Nomad retains the same architectural movement as the Freak S, using the Calibre UN-251 Manufacture movement. It features two oscillators with silicon balance wheels inclined at 20 degrees and escapements treated with high-tech DIAMonSIL for added precision and durability. These are then linked by a vertical differential system mounted on ball bearings. Mechanically, everything remains the same as the original, but the materials have been changed. The movement’s bridges are now coated in anthracite PVD.

Ulysse Nardin Freak S Nomad – Spaceship construction.

To match the detail of the dial disc, Ulysse Nardin is offering the Freak S Nomad with the choice of two straps. The first is anthracite rubber with a “ballistic” pattern, which mimics the guilloché pattern of the hour disc. The second choice is a matt anthracite alligator strap that has an open-worked design, which reveals the sand-coloured calfskin leather accents.

Final Thoughts

Ulysse Nardin’s Freak S Nomad is the perfect symbiosis of the past and future. The Freak S Nomad epitomizes this narrative, fusing 21st-century cutting-edge technology and avant-garde materials with pre-industrial craftsmanship, in this case the decorative métiers d’art technique of guillochage.

A watch that made time stand still during Watches & Wonders 2022, this Freak S Nomad builds on that with an incredible level of detail, one that turns this timepiece from a mechanical masterpiece to an artistic one. While certainly being a disruptive force in the world of haute horology, they haven’t forgotten about past traditional design and finishing methods. While the Freak S was an impressive expression of technical innovation, this latest model is my favourite, as visually, it feels a cut above the rest of the Freak collection.

Reference: 2513-500LE-4A-GUI/1A (alligator strap), 2513-500LE-4A-GUI/3A (“ballistic” rubber strap)

Specification

  • Case: 45mm x 13.66mm
  • Case Material: Titanium case and locker, anthracite PVD-coated titanium bezel, carbon fibre side plates, Anthracite PVD-coated titanium case back with open sapphire.
  • Dial: Flying carousel movement rotating around its own axis. Two 20-degree-inclined oversized oscillators with silicon balance wheels. Sand-coloured CVD with diamond-shaped guilloché hour disc.
  • Crystal: Sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating
  • Water resistance: 30m (3 Bar)
  • Movement: Automatic movement Caliber UN-251 Manufacture
  • Movement Frequency: 2 x 2.5Hz (2 x 18,000 VpH)
  • Power reserve: 72 hours
  • Bracelet: Anthracite rubber “ballistic” textured strap or anthracite open-worked mat alligator leather strap with sand-coloured calfskin leather inserts titanium deployant buckle

International Recommended Retail Price: $148,300 USD

Availability: Limited edition of 99 timepieces. For more information, head to ulysse-nardin.com.au

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