Ulysse Nardin: Freak S30 March 2022
The historical Freak collection has reached a new orbit. 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, those who set out to conquer their dreams and venture off the beaten track to do so: the “Beautiful Freaks”. 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.
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.
“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.” Jean-Christophe Sabatier, Product Director at 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 very 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 watch is the obvious technical extension of the Freak Vision of 2018: 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
XXL SILICIUM BALANCE-WHEELS
Ulysse Nardin’s technical teams have succeeded spectacularly in taking the preexisting inherently three- dimensional effect to the limit in the Freak collection. 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 add to the object’s scenic aspect and are linked by a differential, which draws the average of their rates. Assembled on two plans inclined at 20° one from another, the two extra-large balance-wheels with inertia-blocks 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.
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 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 to turn at different speeds: the wheels located on the inside of the turning curve turn faster than the outside 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.
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 2013). 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 ENGINE ROOM
The Freak collection is revealing all its secrets. It has nothing to hide. The micromechanical machinery present inside the 45mm case in black ceramic, titanium DLC and 5N rose gold is nothing other than a carousel with an autonomy of 72 hours, with no hands, dial or crown, quite simply because this watch has no need of them. 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. The lower index – an arrow covered with Super-LumiNova – shows the hour while the upper index – 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 upper bridge unveils the mystery of the mechanics of time. The movement pivots on its central axis inside a high-tech case with a sapphire crystal, ensuring a spectacular view of the time display, further enhanced by a meticulous finish produced by Ulysse Nardin’s watchmakers in Le Locle.
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 inside the case. The Freak’s time is set by rotating the bezel in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction.
The “Grinder” automatic winding system that 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 (like a bicycle fitted with four pedals instead of two). A flexible guiding mechanism considerably limits friction.
“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 an ‘Uber’ version of the Freak Vision. Ulysse Nardin at its best.”Patrick Pruniaux, CEO of Ulysse Nardin.
THE INTERSTELLAR VESSEL FREAK S
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 gives the Freak S the sparkle of a starry night like a rocket’s theater decoration. 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 and 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 that opens with a simple click. 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. (Price €. 123.500)