April 18, 2018
by Kenny Yeo
The term “horological icon” gets thrown around a lot, but Ulysse Nardin’s Freak makes a very strong case for being one. Introduced in 2001, it was a watch that was unlike any other. It had an unusual tourbillon and the entire movement was, basically, the watch’s minute hand. These features have come to define the Freak, and even today, Ulysse Nardin’s Freak watches still look refreshing and radical. Now, fans of the Freak will have more options as Ulysse Nardin has expanded the Freak collection with four new watches called the Ulysse Nardin Freak Out.
One of the reasons for the Freak Out collection is to make the Freak accessible to a wider audience. And to do that, the Freak Out watches all come with titanium cases instead of the more common precious metals found in other Freak watches. The case design is borrowed from the Freak Innovision 2 watch that was showed off earlier. Case diameter is a hefty 45mm, but because the Freak Out watches have titanium cases, it should be quite light to wear.
Look closely at the case and you will find that there’s no crown. So how does one adjust the watch and wind the movement? In between the lugs at 6 o’clock is a small lock that releases the bezel. This adjusts the time. To wind the hand-wound movement within, simply twist the entire caseback. Because the bezel and caseback are used to adjust the time and wind the watch, water resistance is just 30m.
Like all Freak watches, the Ulysse Nardin Freak Out’s baguette-style movement doubles up as the minute hand. The movement within is the in-house Caliber UN-205. It is wound by hand and features a generous power reserve of 7 days. It wouldn’t be a Freak if the movement didn’t have silicon components and the Caliber UN-205 features Ulysse Nardin’s new Anchor Escapement, which replaces the traditional anchor and anchor wheel with two silicon impulse wheels and blades, and a silicon hairspring that beats at 4Hz.
As I mentioned earlier, there are four new variants. The sportiest of the lot is possibly the Freak Out Full Black, which has, as you might have guessed, a full black PVD treatment for the case and dial. The Arabic hour markers and movement are silver, which makes it striking and easy to read. Next up, we have the Freak Out Black Gold. This has what looks like a raw titanium color case and a contrasting gold gear train for the movement. If you like blue, there’s the Freak Out of the Blue, which also has a raw titanium color case, but a rich blue dial and a silver gear train. Finally, the last watch of the collection is the Freak Out Blue Gold. This has a raw titanium color case, a rich blue dial, and a gold gear train for the movement. All four Ulysse Nardin Freak Out models will come with matching color sailcloth straps with a folding buckle.
The Ulysse Nardin Freak has long been a shining example of high-end horology and the move to make it more accessible should be applauded by collectors. What’s remarkable also is that these Freak Out watches still retain all of the characteristics that make the Freak so special in the first place, like the the baguette tourbillon movement and crownless case. The Ulysse Nardin Freak Out is priced beginning at $48,000 CHF. ulysse-nardin.com