Ulysse Nardin Freak, watchmaking's own Adams Family
The Freak collection feels a little bit like the Adams'. Some are tame, some are sweet and some are just....freaks. More than anything else though, they're all certifiable
You can't choose where you're born. You have to accept your family as a given. And at Ulysse Nardin, the Freaks are a force to be reckoned with. Since their ancestor was born in 2001, scion upon scion of outliers have managed the same effect, more of less crazy, more or less complex, always different. Yet is the gap between the last two generations a sign of atavism ? Because there is a huge rise in cuckooness between the Freak X and the latest Freak S.
Let's dig in the family archive. In 2001, Ulysse Nardin releases a timepiece with no crown, no dial, no hands. It's wound and set by turning the bezel. Its movement performs the minute hand function. A huge hand whose base is a balance wheel. It runs for seven days straight. It features the first ever silicon escapement, with double escape wheel and direct impulse, no less. It is literally a freak, a creature you point at.
Ulysse Nardin Freak originale, de 2001 © David Chokron / Worldtempus
As it grows, the creature keeps mutating : synthetic diamond in lieu of or on top of silicon, addition of an actual one-minute flying tourbillon (mounted on a minute hand that already acts as a one-hour tourbillon), modifications galore on said hand, which ends up thinner, longer, more three-dimensional or openworked (or several of the above), a host of technical innovations on almost every single organ within the movement. And throughout it all, the Freak remained...a freak. These are the Morticia, Gomez, Fester and other grownups in the Adams Family.
But these folks were expensive. So in 2019, the brand released the Freak X. More affordable, more simple, it had an actual crown and its movement wasn't that deeply bonded with its minute hand anymore, although it retained both an indication and a functional role. This one could be Wednesday and Pugsley, with psychopaths careers well underway.
Ulysse Nardin Freak X © David Chokron / Worldtempus
And then boom ! The late-in-life pregnancy. The atavism. Morticia and Gomez are proud to announce that they had a new baby, born April 30th, 2022. And it's everything its grand-father hoped it would be, and then some. It's called Freak S and don't be fooled by that sweet letter. There's nothing sweet about this creature. It's huge, it's innovative and it's a total oddity that has eliminated every limit in its path. Double inclining oscillator on flying carousel, vertical differential, silicon escapement parts covered in artificial diamond, Grinder winding, titanium, ceramics and gold 45-mm case and a design so out there even Cousin It wouldn't have come up with it.
Ulysse Nardin Freak S © David Chokron / Worldtempus
I wouldn't want to worry Gomez Adams, but the kid looks so much like an extra-terrestrial there's no way he's the father...