THE FREAK COLLECTION IS AN ACT OF MODERN HOROLOGICAL ART AND CUTTING-EDGE MECHANICAL EXPERTISE EPITOMIZING ULYSSE NARDIN’S LONG-ESTABLISHED WATCHMAKING SAVOIR-FAIRE.
WITH ITS DISRUPTIVE DESIGN AND REVOLUTIONARY TECHNICAL COMPONENTS, THE FREAK HAS BROKEN EVERY TRADITIONAL RULE OF WATCHMAKING. MOVEMENT IS KING.
WITH ITS ICONIC ORBITAL FLYING ONE-HOUR CARROUSEL, THE ROTATION OBSERVED IS GIVEN BY THE MOVEMENT OF THE WATCH ITSELF. AS WELL AS HAVING NO DIAL, NO HANDS AND NO CROWN, THE FREAK WAS ALSO THE FIRST MECHANICAL WATCH IN HISTORY WITH SILICON ESCAPEMENT WHEELS.
THE FREAK TRULY HARNESSES THE POWERFUL EXPRESSIVENESS OF THE TIME-TELLING ART. THE FREAK COLLECTION IS ULYSSE NARDIN’S FLAGSHIP AND THE MANUFACTURE’S CENTRE OF GRAVITY AS IT DEFINES ITS NEW INDEPENDENCE.
a freak is born
Ulysse Nardin introduced the Freak in 2001 under the headship of maverick owner Rolf Schnyder and genius watchmaker Dr. Ludwig Oechslin. It was a wild creation, a UFO in a land of convention and conservatism. A watch with no dial, no hands and no crown, Schnyder felt there was only one name for it: Freak. The Freak, as the first "hyperwatch" that heralded a new era, holds a privileged place in the history of Ulysse Nardin and of Haute Horlogerie. This iconic and radical timepiece, through its 13 variations, embodies the technical excellence and innovative spirit of the integrated Ulysse Nardin manufacture. From the Freak 2001, the precursor of the silicon wheel escapement, to the Freak ONE, the collection has always carried an experimental touch in its DNA. In its two decades of life, the Freak has constantly reset the boundaries of watch design and engineering.
ROLF W. SCHNYDER
Behind this unique project that changed the face of modern watchmaking is Rolf W. Schnyder (1943-2011). The former CEO of Ulysse Nardin transformed the traditional watchmaker into a leading innovator in the luxury watch industry during his nearly three-decade tenure.
The development of the Freak is one of Schnyder's most significant contributions to Ulysse Nardin which demonstrated his boundless passion for watchmaking and technical innovation. Schnyder introduced new materials and technologies and collaborated with leading engineers to develop cutting-edge timepieces. He perceived in the use of new materials such as Silicon or DIAMonSIL an opportunity to leapfrog over the competition and become a leader in the form of new technology. Schnyder ventured where no watch brand had dared go before.
THE WATCHMAKING GENIUS
In the world of watchmaking, Ludwig Oechslin is known for his technical genius and his unconventional approach to horology. Fascinated by ancient history, he was entrusted by the Vatican to restore the Farnese Clock, a sophisticated seventeenth century astronomical pendulum clock which provides over 60 civil, astronomical and astrological readings.
The clock was painstakingly dismantled into over 1000 pieces, restored and reassembled. This project lasted four years, and it is recorded in a four-volume memorial published by the Vatican. The reassembled clock is a working wonder. Ludwig's technical virtuosity is illustrated by his contribution to the birth of the Freak. The Freak is a timepiece like no other. With no hands, no dial and no crown, it uses a carousel-style design to display time and thereby strips away all the unnecessary components of a traditional watch. With this hyperwatch, Ludwig proposed a pure and radical approach to watchmaking, one that focuses on simplicity and functionality above all else. Ludwig's genius was rewarded in 2002 when the Freak won the "Watch of the Year" prize at the Innovation Award.
on the wrist
A Unique Concept
The Freak is in essence boundless. Its unique design serving its extraordinary technique makes the Freak an inimitable timepiece. The original Freak was a milestone watch brimming with cutting-edge tech and avant-garde design.
It changed perceptions of what a mechanical watch should look like – and how it should work. This was the rebel mindset. A what-the-Freak watch. One of the key technical characteristics that sets the Freak apart and challenges the very foundations of horology is the architecture of its movement. It marked the first instance that a movement was deconstructed to express time on its own and, in so doing, achieved a totally new, mechanics-celebratory language of watchmaking.
No Hands, No Dial, no crown
NO DIAL - Typically, mechanical watches hide their workings under a dial. But the Freak has no dial. Its movement doubles as its minutes hand, while the hour hand is a pointer set on a rotating disc that sits under the movement.
NO HANDS - The unconventional Freak has neither a big hand nor a little hand. Instead, its one-hour orbital carrousel tourbillon becomes the minute hand, and the hour hand is replaced by a pointer on a rotating disc.
NO CROWN - Best practice suggests that to adjust and wind a mechanical watch, you need a crown. The original Freak replaced the crown with a time-setting system integrated into the bezel and was wound via a mechanism in the case back.
Beyond its unique aesthetics, the Freak collection is also characterized by highly complex Manufacture calibers specifically designed in-house for these exceptional timepieces.
These unconventional calibers feature a unique movement design that uses the entire watch as a movement platform, eliminating the need for a traditional dial and hands.
Silicon – A technological breakthrough
Look closely at the Freak’s heart and you will see that the balance wheel, hairspring and escapement are crafted from silicon. This space-age material is a hard blue gray crystalline solid that has revolutionized watchmaking for several reasons.
Using a form of photo-electric etching named DRIE (deep reactive ion etching), it is capable of creating the most precise micro-mechanical parts on the planet. Also, silicon parts require no lubrication to run smoothly.
The Freak that marked history
A FREAK IS BORN
The first Freak of 2001 was an unlikely iconoclast: a wild creation in a land of convention and conservatism. Because it had no dial, no hands, and no crown, Rolf Schnyder, Ulysse Nardin’s CEO at that time, felt there was only one name for it: Freak.
The Freak changed the perspective on watchmaking: it marked the first instance that a movement was deconstructed to express time on its own and, in so doing, achieved a totally new, mechanics-celebratory language of watchmaking. Thanks to the genius watchmaker Ludwig Oechslin, the Freak was also the first wristwatch to incorporate a natural escapement with silicon parts, thereby ushering in the age of silicon in watchmaking. This material features several properties: it is harder than steel, highly elastic, shock-resistant, and anti-magnetic to ensure higher quality and durability.
ALL FACETS OF THE DAILY FREAK
The Freak X abstracts the very essence of the Freak, namely an orbital oscillator and a silicon escapement, and realizes it in a more traditional automatic movement, which enables hand winding and setting via a crown.
Featuring no dial and no hands, the Freak X stands out for its versatility and daily use qualities. It is a light-weighted, comfortable, and easy to wear timepiece that offers exciting combinations of materials while being true to the exclusive signature of the Freak concept: a flying carrousel that tells time. Drawing on two decades of expertise in silicon, the Freak X also features a super-light balance wheel in silicon, extra-wide, with nickel flyweights.
A ROCKET ON THE WRIST
Combining all the superlatives, the Freak S came into being in 2022 showcasing the expertise of Ulysse Nardin’s integrated Manufacture. While the Freak has always been as intellectually stimulating as it is visually captivating, the Freak S took the Freak collection to new heights.
It introduces the brand’s first double oscillator with a differential and automatic winding made possible by the patented Grinder® system which captures energy with even the smallest of wrists movement. The silicon components of the escapement have been coated with a layer of diamond which optimizes its performance and its resistance to abrasion (DIAMonSIL). With no dial, no hands, no crown, it is the movement itself that tells the time. The Freak S is another act of horological purity and authenticity.
THE FREAK THAT BRIDGES THE PAST TO THE FUTURE
Freak ONE is the quintessence of Freak: as the direct descendent of the original Freak 2001, it features its three signature characteristics: no crown, no hands, and no dial. Movement is king as it tells time.
The most thrilling element of the new Freak ONE is the oversized and highly complex, aerodynamic, and inertia-optimized balance wheel crafted entirely from one piece of silicon, and a lever escapement executed in DIAMonSIL (a patented form of diamond-coated silicon). This is the result of Ulysse Nardin’s unrivalled expertise in silicon technology and represents the single most advanced oscillator in the watch industry. The Freak ONE is also the first Freak with an integrated rubber strap, made of 30 percent recycled rubber from production waste by BIWI. The Freak ONE becomes Ulysse Nardin’s flagship watch and the house’s center of gravity as it defines its new independence.
No hands. no dial. No crown. no boundaries. No hands. no dial. No crown. no boundaries. No hands. no dial. No crown. no boundaries. No hands.
A tribe of trailblazers, risk-takers and free-thinkers, that transcends borders and cultures. A movement towards unconventional perspectives, ultimate freedom and pure inspiration.
By addressing every line of inquiry in modern watchmaking, be it aesthetic, technical, technological or conceptual and integrating them like never before, the Freak single-handedly launched an era of horological rebellion that altered the course of watchmaking forever. It is, indeed, quite the freak — a brilliant outlier that once tested the vanguard and now continues to push it. And in doing so, it has become the watch of choice for the trailblazers, risk-takers and free-thinkers of the world, for the bold of heart and spirit, and those unafraid to smash past boundaries and let their freak flag fly.