When Ulysse Nardin introduced the Freak ONE earlier this year in 2023, the brand chose to debut an entirely new generation of its signature timepiece in the form of just one single watch. Given the notable updates to company the Freak ONE, it only seemed like a matter of time before we would see a follow-up model that expanded upon this new-generation concept, and for Dubai Watch Week 2023, Ulysse Nardin has introduced the Freak ONE OPS, which takes the core design of the Freak ONE, and gives it the khaki green and black tactical treatment that first debuted on the recently-released Freak X OPS from earlier this year.
As the new Ulysse Nardin Freak ONE OPS (ref. 2403-500-8A/3A) is essentially a new rendition of the Freak One, it also features a 44mm black DLC-coated titanium case. However, rather than being fitted with a 5N red gold bezel like the inaugural model, the bezel on the new Freak ONE OPS is crafted from Carbonium, which is Ulysse Nardin’s carbon-based composite material that uses carbon fiber sourced from the production of aircraft wings and fuselages to reduce its environmental impact by 40%. A pair of sapphire crystals are fitted to both the dial side of the watch and its display-style caseback, and unlike the simplified Freak X series that uses a standard winding crown at 3 o’clock, the Freak ONE is a true Freak model that follows in the footsteps of the very first Ulysse Nardin Freak from 2001, which means that it features a completely symmetrical case profile and lacks any type of winding crown whatsoever.
Just like the original Freak ONE that debuted earlier this year (and the original Freak watch from 2001), setting the time on the Ulysse Nardin Freak ONE OPS is achieved by rotating its external bezel, and the bezel system features a locking mechanism between the lugs on the 6 o’clock side to prevent accidental adjustments. Additionally, while the movement inside the watch is self-winding, the Freak ONE OPS can also be manually wound by rotating the outer frame of the caseback. Just like the original Freak ONE, water resistance for the new Freak ONE OPS comes in at 30 meters to protect against incidental contact, and to maintain the khaki green tactical appearance of the new model, the watch comes with two different black and khaki green rubber straps that are produced using 30% recycled material and completed by folding clasps made from black DLC-coated titanium and ceramic.
The tactical black and khaki green colorway extends onto the display of the Ulysse Nardin Freak ONE OPS, which in true UN Freak watch fashion, forgoes a traditional dial and handset altogether. Taking the place of both the dial and hour hand is a rotating disc in khaki green that is decorated with a radial sunray pattern and fitted with a V-shaped luminous indicator that essentially functions as the tip of the hour hand for the watch. The disc-shaped barrel cover rotates once every 12 hours, and the V-shaped indicator points out the current hour against the separate hour and minute track frame that sits above the disc along its outer perimeter.
Meanwhile, the minute hand on the Ulysse Nardin Freak ONE OPS is represented by the large mechanical assembly that sits above the barrel cover and rotates around the display once every hour. The minute bridge assembly consists of the balance, escapement, and gear train for the movement, and it features a second V-shaped indicator at its tip to indicate the current position of the minute hand. Additionally, because the entire balance and escapement assembly is mounted on the minute bridge and constantly rotating, the minute bridge also functions as an orbital 60-minute flying carousel tourbillon.
Powering the Ulysse Nardin Freak ONE OPS is the brand’s in-house Caliber UN-240 automatic movement, which consists of pretty much everything inside the case that resides between the two sapphire crystals (aside from a few pieces like the hours/minutes flange and the small V-shaped indicators). The Ulysse Nardin Cal. UN-240 consists of 229 components, and it runs at a frequency of 21,600bph (3 Hz) while offering users a rather generous power reserve of approximately 90 hours. The oversized oscillator, balance spring, and escape wheel all appear in blue silicon, while automatic winding is carried out by the brand’s proprietary Grinder winding system, which swaps out a traditional rotor-style setup for a rotating frame with four blades that creates twice the angular stroke to increase the winding efficiency of the movement.
Since the new Ulysse Nardin Freak ONE OPS ref. 2403-500-8A/3A is essentially the same watch as the inaugural Freak ONE that swaps out its rose gold components to embrace a tactical khaki green and black colorway, it actually costs slightly less than the original Freak ONE and is accompanied by an official retail price of $66,500 USD. While the brand’s recently-released Freak X OPS model offers a similar colorway at nearly half the price, the Freak X series is a significantly less complex model compared to the flagship Freak ONE, and it lacks certain hallmark Freak features like the omission of a winding crown. Given that the price premium for the version with the 5N rose gold bezel is just a couple thousand dollars, the original Freak ONE would still be my personal pick among the series, although I still enjoy seeing Ulysse Nardin apply this khaki green and black OPS colorway to its flagship Freak ONE model. For more information on the Ulysse Nardin Freak ONE OPS, please visit the brand’s website.