In their own words: "The (first) Ulysse Nardin Freak was an unlikely iconoclast. It also pioneered maverick technologies that now define 21st century mechanical watchmaking."
Watches and Wonders - a New Freak
When we think of an analogue watch our mind jumps immediately to two or more hands rotating on a dial or dials, but just because that's what we expect doesn't mean that it's the only way of doing things!
Make no mistake, Ulysse Nardin's design and engineering is up there with the very, very best, indeed, their expertise in silicon technology has produced the watch industry's most advanced oscillator. The Freak has been with us since 2001 and was the brainchild of the late Rolf Schnyder and master watchmaker Dr. Ludwig Oechslin; since then we've seen the Freak in a number of guises.
This latest version also stays true to the initial design criteria of no dial, no hands and no crown, but how does it all work? On a conventional watch the dial sits above the movement, but the Freak has no dial and the movement, a one-hour orbital carousel tourbillon itself doubles as the minute hand as it rotates; the minute bridge also carries the oversize silicon oscillator.
The hours are indicated by a pointer that's attached to a rotating disc, the disc being geared accordingly; the hour markers are, in effect, on the rehaut. As the Freak has no crown, the time is set by unlocking and then rotating the bezel, this in turn rotates the movement until the correct time is reached; once this has been achieved, the bezel can then be relocked.
Automatic winding is by an internal rotor with an efficiency twice that of a normal automatic. The movement beats at 21,600 vph (3Hz), has 15 jewels, 229 components and when fully wound it has a power reserve of 72 hours.
The case is 44mm in diameter, is crafted from Titanium and DLC coated. Low-light conditions are catered for with Super-LumiNova in the normal way. There are a number of strap options including rubber and alligator skin.
The price is an eye-watering £60,300.00 including tax but if you choose the alligator strap, I'm told that you get to keep the remainder for the fridge, and as they say at a leading supermarket, 'Every little helps'. So what's the bottom line? The Freak is for someone that constantly thinks outside of the box and wants something a little different, indeed, for that person the norm is abnormal.
While not a 'tool watch' as such, the quality of engineering suggests that heavy daily use should be well within the Freaks capability and no allowances out of the ordinary need be made. Sapphire crystal front and rear as you'd expect and engineering excellence as standard.