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Ulysse Nardin  - Feet In The Water, Head In The Skies

Ulysse Nardin Feet In The Water, Head In The Skies

Focus on the Freak S and the Diver Ocean Race

Land, air and sea are always weighed in the balance, as three distinct elements. But are they indeed separate? Not really, as they are composed of the same atoms, from the same world and rest on each other. Humankind has intuitively grasped this, designing on Earth airborne travelling through a vault measured in… nautical miles. Watchmaking – and especially Ulysse Nardin – follows the same path. While the Manufacture is renowned for its marine chronometers – rewarded by 4,324 performance certificates issued by Neuchâtel Observatory! – it has constantly opened up new technical and aesthetic fronts, of which the Freak is the figurehead.

Freak Chic
Since 2001, it has become a must. No hands, no dial, no crown. The futuristic and disruptive new Freak S is 20 years ahead of its time. It no longer has one but two oscillators, positioned on two planes inclined at 20°, at the center of which beat two XL balances linked by a differential visible on the dial side and which calculates the average rate. The precious organs are made of DiamonSIL, a silicon coated with a few microns of artificial diamond to optimize performance and resistance. Like all Freak watches, this new S model indicates the time by the rotation of its movement. The movement is located on the dial side and “replaces” the hand, since it is the caliber itself and more specifically the balances, the escapement as well as the wheels – that indicates the minutes by turning on its central axis once an hour. The luminescent white arrow displays the time. On the winding side, performance is also the order of the day with the automatic “Grinder” system. It comes from the nautical world, to which Ulysse Nardin is strongly attached. Like a boat’s “grinder”, it uses a speed reducer to increase winding efficiency. Since 2017, the Manufacture has improved it with a silicon inlay that optimizes winding while reducing friction. A watch? More like a watchmaking vessel for avant-garde collectors.

Feet In The Water, Head In The Skies

Freak S © Ulysse Nardin

Celestial Dial 
And it is perhaps aboard this craft that they will be able to propel themselves into the stars with the Freak X Aventurine. The dial is as much about technology as it is about aesthetics. The first aspect is embodied by the Freak’s breathtaking ‘engine’, a carrousel that spins on its axis in 60 minutes, indicating the hours and simultaneously serving as a minutes hand. Its pace is set by the UN-250 movement oscillating on a silicon XL balance with nickel inertia blocks. For aesthetic purposes, it gravitates – levitates? – above a sky made of aventurine, an 18th century Venetian material created by chance from a few copper shavings that fell into a vat of molten glass. Hovering between past and presnt, between tradition and modernity, this age old alloy is framed by a case in blue PVD titanium and 5N rose gold, all soft curves and polished edges. Both poetic and dreamy, the precious aventurine represents the star-spangled celestial vault, reflected on the surface of the ocean – to which Ulysse Nardin reaffirms its attachment. 

Doing more with less

The Diver Ocean Race is the latest illustration of this commitment, expressed not only as a statement, but also in action. In 2020, Ulysse Nardin devoted its first research to the subject, with a strap 100% made of recycled fishing nets that the firm sourced from Breton fishermen.In 2022, this “proof of concept” became a reality to which 200 collectors can now adhere: recycled steel and brass (100% for the latter), a composite case with 60% recycled polyamide, a presentation box made of recycled plastic and, as always, the famous strap made of recycled fishing nets. As far as the movement with its silicon escapement is concerned, 95% of its components come from within a 30km radius of Neuchâtel – and half of them are of recycled origin. More than a watch, this is a manifesto of horological responsibility, co-signed by Ulysse Nardin and The Ocean Race. 

Feet In The Water, Head In The Skies

Diver Ocean Race © Ulysse Nardin




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GMT Magazine n° 77 © GMT Magazine


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