This past week — at Watches & Wonders Geneva 2022 — Ulysse Nardin debuted their most advanced Freak timepiece yet.
Most notably, the Freak S features the brand’s first double oscillator-equipped caliber. Using an inclined double balance wheel system (inclined at 20° one from another), linked by a rose gold bridge, and mechanically interconnected by a vertical differential, powered by the company’s ultra-efficient “Grinder” automatic winding technology (that needs minimal wrist motion to wind the mainspring) — the mainspring barrel’s energy is evenly distributed between the two balances, thus averaging the two rates so that the amplitude remains stable.
Stabilizing a timepiece’s rate is one of the best ways to achieve higher accuracy, whether it’s by a constant force mechanism, a tourbillon, or in this case a dual balance system with a differential. Interestingly, the Freak, naturally, uses its signature carousel mechanism, so like with past Freak timepieces, the movement and regulation system rotates in the center of the dial on a bridge that acts both as a support and as the timepiece’s hands, indicating hours and minutes. The entire movement makes a complete turn on itself (on the central axis) once every 60 minutes.
The Freak S is delivered in a 45 mm diameter case — constructed of ceramic, titanium, and rose gold — and is reminiscent of the first Freak from 2001. Cleverly, you set the time by rotating the bezel in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction.
In addition to all the above-mentioned horological technologies, the Freak S takes advantage of the latest DiamonSIL material for the free-sprung balance wheels, further reducing friction and improving durability over earlier silicon technologies (an area Ulysse Nardin pioneered).
Ulysse Nardin’s caliber UN-251 is a flying carousel baguette movement with one rotation per hour, oversized twin free-sprung balance wheels beating at the same rate (2 x 2.5Hz), and a maximum power reserve of 72-hours. The grinder automatic winding system uses blades, flexible guidance, and a shock-absorber. The rose gold button, engraved with “FREAK” just below the 6 o’clock position on the outside of the case, is the lock/unlock button, which when unlocked allows you to turn the bezel clockwise or counterclockwise to set the hours and minutes. Using the bezel on the caseback, the automatic movement can be manually wound.
Just below the plane of the movement, the plate has been decorated with blue aventurine crystal, enhancing the legibility of the time by contrasting the slanted rose gold indices and the rotating carousel above. The Ulysse Nardin Freak S (Ref. 2513-500LE-2A-BLACK-5N/1A) is limited to 75 pieces and will retail for $137,200.
Photos by Ulysse Nardin.