W&W 2022 Ulysse Nardin Freak S
The new high-tech watchmaking masterpiece developed by Ulysse Nardin is taking off, driven by a powerful solar wind. Ulysse Nardin looked to the brightest stars of the cosmos for inspiration for this new interpretation of the Freak. At first glance, the brand’s pioneering new watch resembles a space vessel with twin reactors, which will find its finest expression on the wrists of those who never doubt. This creation combining all the superlatives came into being thanks to the expertise of an integrated Manufacture; it represents the expression of contemporary luxury masterfully manifested in an avant-garde watchmaking design.
The Freak is one of the ten watches that have revolutionized watchmaking over the course of the last twenty years
If we need to look for a milestone in the history of Ulysse Nardin, it’s the year 2001, which saw the launch of the very first Freak watch, one of the most innovative models of its time. This revolutionary timepiece broke free from all the conventions of watchmaking history: no hands, no dial, no crown. The memorable project was conceived by Carole Forestier Kasapi, then turned into reality thanks to Ludwig Oechslin, a philosopher and a genius, at the time a watchmaker for Ulysse Nardin. For more than twenty years, Ulysse Nardin has constantly been seeking to push back the limits of traditional watchmaking in the Freak collection. To wear a Freak is to carry a laboratory on your wrist that has hosted several major innovations.
“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. It is a celebration of new technologies.” Jean-Christophe Sabatier, Product Director at Ulysse Nardin.
“The Freak is a watch whose revolutionary soul is regularly fired up by new technical challenges. Like the heroes of Homer’s Odyssey who visited many unknown lands, we at Ulysse Nardin continue to explore all possible roads offered by science to ensure constant improvement in the precision and functionality of our time-keeping instruments.” Patrick Pruniaux, CEO of Ulysse Nardin.
Freak S: The very first automatic double oscillator with a differential
Having made the choice to amaze the aficionados, the Manufacture’s developers designed the brand’s first double oscillator with a differential with automatic winding, made possible by the “Grinder” system, twice as efficient as a traditional winding system. The Freak S is the obvious technical extension of the Freak Vision: a new mechanical marvel that highlights the following noteworthy innovations:
- An inclined double oscillator using DiamonSIL technology,
- A vertical differential,
- A “Grinder” automatic winding system ,
- A new case inspired by the first Freak of 2001, with a construction enabling a combination of different materials such as ceramic, titanium and gold.
Ulysse Nardin’s technical teams have succeeded spectacularly in taking the three-dimensional effect to the limit. The Freak S’ inclined double oscillator is a premiere, the prime signature of new UN-251 Manufacture movement. Positioned on distinct planes as if on two launching pads, the two XXL silicium balance-wheels with inertia-blocks are linked by a differential, which draws the average of their rates. Assembled on two plans inclined at 20° one from another, they are linked by a bridge in rose gold in the form of a rocket’s wing. Siamese, in a rhythmic tango, they give the impression of two turboprops beating time at a frequency of 2.5 Hz – reinforcing the timepiece’s 3D effect and space inspiration.
The inclined double oscillator and its differential enable improved regulation of the movement’s running rate. The most common application of a differential is in the transmission of an automobile. A differential is required in a vehicle when it makes a turn, as it allows the drive wheels turn at different speeds: the wheels located on the outside of the turning curve turn faster than the inside wheels. Here, it performs an indispensable function: drawing the average of two rates and evenly distributing the barrel’s energy to the two regulating organs, so that its amplitude remains stable. The two oscillators of the Freak S never oscillate at the same speed and are therefore mutually compensated thanks to this mechanism, which is as esthetic as it is useful.
Master of silicium technologies
After having been the first to use silicium in the very first Freak watch in 2001, here Ulysse Nardin is showcasing an innovative pioneering surface treatment, a combination of silicium and synthetic diamond: DiamonSIL (patented in 2009). The silicium components of the escapement of the Freak S have been coated with a layer of artificial diamond which optimizes its performance and its resistance to abrasion and to the several million impacts per year on the watch.
This process is one of the major innovations introduced by the Manufacture in the last 20 years. The plasma technology of the DiamonSIL, developed by Ulysse Nardin at Sigatec in Sion, Switzerland, has been one of the iconic technologies of the Brand’s know-how. This unique technology is also used in the brand’s flagship movement, the UN-118.
A glimpse of the engine room
The micromechanical machinery featured beneath the crystal of the Freak S is nothing other than a carousel with an autonomy of 72 hours, with no hands, dial, or crown. The Freak indicates the time thanks to the rotation of its movement. Two bridges rotate around the center. They indicate the hours and minutes, respectively. An arrow covered with Super-LumiNova® shows the hour while the nose cone of the rocket, which bears the balance-wheels and the escapement, indicates the minutes. In the course of its 60-minute revolution, the movement pivots on its central axis inside a high-tech case with a sapphire crystal.
Whereas in traditional tourbillons, the balance wheel makes one rotation per minute within a cage, in the Freak, it’s the whole movement – including its regulating organ – that makes a complete turn on itself in one hour. The Freak S’ time is set by rotating the bezel in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction.
“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.” explained Rolf Schnyder in 2001.
“We owe it to Rolf, Ludwig and all the other heroes that worked on the Freak to continue to think out of the box and defy the odds. The authenticity and freedom that are our trademarks come from within the deep roots that anchor Ulysse Nardin to the center of fine watchmaking.I am always astonished to hear some of the most recognized, current watch leaders explain the ways in which the Freak has inspired them. The Freak is more than a watch; it is an idea, a perspective on the world. It continues to evolve. The new Freak S is Ulysse Nardin at its best.” Patrick Pruniaux, CEO of Ulysse Nardin.
Master of blades
The “Grinder” automatic winding system that already equipped the Freak Vision has now been substantially improved. The Grinder is twice as efficient as a classical automatic winding system since its energy transmission is twice as efficient as that of existing systems. It uses the smallest of wrist movements. The oscillating weight is connected to a frame carrying four blades, which gives the self-winding system twice the angular stroke. A flexible guiding mechanism considerably limits friction.
If it seems that the stars are randomly distributed in the cosmos, the subtle decoration of the deep black mineral decorative plate, sparkling with golden particles, has not been left “to chance” … The glittering effect of the aventurine that decorates the movement, gives the Freak S the sparkle of a starry night.
Legend surrounding aventurine recounts that in the thirteenth century, on the island of Murano in Venice, home to the famous glass-makers, a craftsman accidentally, or “par aventure”, let some copper filings fall into a pot of molten glass, so creating aventurine glass, or “avventurina” in Italian, meaning “by chance”. The black aventurine disk turns beneath the markers – the Ulysse Nardin logo disappears discreetly as if absorbed by the passage of the sparkling decoration.
The Freak S is proposed in a limited edition of 75 pieces, of which just 40 will go into production in 2022. Every watch is fitted with an alligator strap decorated with a Sport cut-out in rose gold colour. The timepiece is fitted with a self-folding clasp system in titanium with black DLC. Thanks to a new patented triple-folding system that operates in synchronized fashion (SYNC), the clasp opens with a single click. Incredibly easy, for fail-safe security.
Ulysse Nardin Freak S
Limited edition of 75 pieces
- Material: Black ceramic, titanium with black DLC, 5N rose gold
- Bezel: 5N rose gold
- Time set with the front bezel, lever lock
- Manual winding possible with the back bezel
- Diameter: 45 mm
- Crystal: Sapphire domed box with antireflective treatment on both sides
- Caseback: Titanium with black DLC, 6 screws, visible “Grinder” through open sapphire case-back
- Water-resistant to 30 meters
Dial and hands
- Hour disk: Decorative movement plate in black aventurine
- UN-251 Caliber
- Hours and minutes indicated by the movement’s rotation
- Flying carousel
- Baguette movement: one rotation per hour
- Grinder automatic winding with blades, flexible guidance and shock-absorber
- Extra-large inclined double balance-wheel in silicium with inertia-blocks
- Vertical differential
- Frequency: 2 x 2.5 Hz (2x 18’000 vph)
- Power reserve: 72 hours
- Hours and minutes
Strap and buckle
- Bi-material black alligator & golden calf strap or black alligator strap
- CHF 130’000 / EUR 123’500 / USD 137’200 / GBP 114’040
For more information, please visit ulysse-nardin.com