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Ulysse Nardin - The Freak S Aims for the Stars

Ulysse Nardin The Freak S Aims for the Stars

Technically complex, visually spectacular, Ulysse Nardin’s Freak S is rocket science in a watch

Ulysse Nardin presents the Freak S, the first automatic watch with twin oscillators, inclined at 20 degrees and connected by a vertical differential. Extra large and in silicon, as are the two balance springs, they take centre-stage inside the in-house UN-251 calibre. The result is a wildly innovative watch with amazing aesthetics.

Completely Freak

The innovations introduced with the original Freak are all part of the package, combined with new and equally disruptive features. The basic concept dates to 2001 and still turns heads. The movement, on the dial side, takes the place of a conventional minutes hand, specifically the balances, escapement and gears, as it makes one rotation every 60 minutes on its axis. Hours are tracked by an arrow tip with a white Super-LumiNova coating. Don’t look for a crown: the time is set by the front bezel and the movement is wound, if needed, by turning the back bezel.

Freak S aims for the stars

Freak S © Ulysse Nardin

This new Freak S owes its performance to silicon: Ulysse Nardin pioneered this technology, leading where others would follow. When the Freak made its debut in 2001, it was the first watch to be equipped with a silicon escapement. The construction of the Dual Direct escapement even did away with the lever and the escape wheel, their services no longer required as energy was transferred directly to the balance by two silicon drive wheels. The two oscillators in the Freak S are also in silicon, now coated with artificial diamond as per the brand’s patented DiamondSIL technology. This ensures even greater resistance to friction and shocks. Visually, the two imposing balance wheels could be turboprops on a rocket-like movement, ready for lift-off.

Freak S aims for the stars

Freak S © Ulysse Nardin

Technically inclined

The role of the escapement and the balance wheel is to control the flow of energy from the mainspring by dividing time into equal parts, called “vibrations”. Inclining the two oscillators at 20 degrees, on two distinct planes, potentially improves the watch’s timekeeping precision. A differential constantly draws the average from the two planes to reduce variations in rate and maintain stable frequency.

Two balance wheels will, of course, eat up more energy than one. Ulysse Nardin has found the solution with its Grinder automatic winding. Introduced with the Innovision 2, it is twice as efficient as a conventional system. So efficient, in fact, that the Freak S delivers a full 72 hours of power reserve. Its secret is to take advantage of even the slightest wrist movements to generate power via a rotor that is connected to a frame with four blades as opposed to the usual two. Each balance wheel beats at a frequency of 18,000 vibrations/hour (2.5 Hz).

Freak S aims for the stars

Freak S © Ulysse Nardin

The spectacular visuals continue with the scintillating aventurine glass “dial”, surrounded by a 45mm case that deftly blends black ceramic, black DLC titanium and pink gold. Ulysse Nardin is presenting the Freak S as a 75-piece limited edition.


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